vintage_travel_poster_san_francisco_postcard-p239289495578941406trdg_400.jpgThere is almost no person who lives in San Francisco who will call themselves a San Franciscan in mixed company.

This is for a few reasons, the first being that the average San Franciscan has only lived in San Francisco for 3 days, and the incubation period for Friscanism is something like 35 years, with the caveat that at least two generations had to be born within the city limits (not unlike a Bold Italic story) and not in Richmond or Pinole or some other completely ridiculous place like Berkeley.

The other reason is that there is a certain amount of street credibility inherent in the simple fact of being from somewhere else. You might think that the rarity of meeting an actual “San Franciscan” (“Did you see it? The one in the jeans!?”) would make the designation of ‘native’ a sought-after title, but this isn’t New York so it doesn’t work that way.

Everyone you meet in San Francisco is champing at the bit to tell you how they’re not from here, and will try to insert their own place of origin as often as possible:

“Do you know where the bathroom is?”
“I’m from Eugene.” (Which you shouldn’t necessarily take as a ‘No’)

This is like a siren’s call to other people from Oregon, and someone nearby will be obligated to ask if this person perhaps knows their cousin’s cat Misty.

This whole ‘do you know someone from your own town’ game takes like three times as long as it needs to because the asker is always super coy and weird about it, and keeps snuffling around the question like a dog who just found a tupperware in my purse.

“I’m sure you don’t, but…this is crazy there’s no way you know her. She’s a cat! But I just thought I’d ask…”

Everyone wants to be from not here, and honestly, pretty much everyone is from those places. Because your odds of not being from San Francisco are pretty good, in fact they are: Every Place In The World to One Place (San Francisco).

It’s weird because when someone tells you they’re from Manhattan they seem cool, but when someone tells you they’re from San Francisco they seem like they’re lying. Of course, this might be due to the fact that we’ve all seen Kids, so we know exactly what it’s like to grow up in New York, but we’ve hardly ever seen even one lower-case kid in our own fair city, so we kind of don’t believe it ever happens here.

The growing up, I mean. And really, if you spend any time in bars, you know it doesn’t.

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  • Greg Dewar

    and to add another layer of “only in sf weirdness” be from here but leave for a long time, and then come back. the locals are like “wtf why’d you leave the end of the rainbow” and the folks from the place you used to live in for a period of time are all “oh wow you’re from Seattl-wait what? you’re from here but know where Alki Beach is?” and you break everyone’s brains that way.

  • Haze Valet

    I can’t wait to move to NYC and tell people I am from SF. I am going to blow peoples’ minds…

  • friscolex

    “…when someone tells you they’re from San Francisco they seem like they’re lying.”

    I only learned this when I moved abroad. I got so excited when people said they were from San Francisco, and quickly asked them where they went to high school (like I’d know them if they said they went to Lowell). When they replied Berkeley High, Terra Linda, Redwood, etc, I wondered why they just didn’t say “I’m from near San Francisco.” It hadn’t occurred to me to falsely claim here. Then when I moved back I was surprised at the number of people who said they’d never met someone from-from here; I’d only ever consorted with such people and meeting people from The Rest Of The World was exotic and exciting. For a while.

  • daystnative

    I meet people all the time that say, “I never meet people from-from San Francisco.” I always respond with, “hang out with me and you will meet a lot.” People that are from San Francisco hang out with people that they know and most of the people that you know are from San Francisco.

    Locals and transplants mostly operate on different wavelengths. For example, if you live in the Mission, work downtown and went to college, you probably will not be hanging with locals because most of the locals in the Mission are working class immigrants that don’t land the jobs that people move here for. The same is true for most neighborhoods (and I imagine, most expensive cities). If you want to meet some people from-from San Francisco, head out to HP and you meet a lot of people that live within shouting distance of a ton of cousins, aunts and grandparents.

  • OllieM

    I live next to Daly City BART, yet I’ve actually lived in Visatacion Valley for a few years then moved to someplace less crime ridden to go to school at and now going to City College so I’m pretty unsure about my San Francisco-ness.

  • wordygirl

    “Locals and transplants mostly operate on different wavelengths.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. I learned about twenty years ago not to get too attached to people new to SF because inevitably they go back to where they came from. SF is a very transient city, and those of us that have been here over thirty years and those of us who were born here are not impressed or surprised that people we meet are not from-from here. As far as I’m concerned, if you are not a California native, you are from another planet!

  • cv

    I grew up nearby (South Bay) and when I meet someone new in the City, I generally expect them to be from someplace in the Midwest, like Des Moines, Cleveland, or Sheboygan. I rarely meet natives in SF, I tend to meet them out in the ‘burbs.