People in my office chuckled a little last week when I told them I had the current winning bid for an old German u-boat that was being hawked on Ebay.
It was a really good deal, $7,000 for some still seaworthy rust bucket that smelled like 27 trolls had filmed 200 porno movies in there. The engine was still in fine shape, and it fired up right away when I pushed the ignition switch. The owner even let me take a test drive of it (since it was moored conveniently close, on Mare Island). A few lessons in sightless navigation later, and we were puttering around the bay at a whopping 12 knots. Despite the post-sex troll stench, I was hooked. Hell, whenever it stops raining out here, I thought, I can at least recoup my investment by donating it to some war museum or another.
Turns out I had the last laugh on my officemates. While all of them arrived this morning sopping wet from yet another blustery and relentless storm that threatens to shear off even more sections of US-1 and send dozens of Bay Area homes sliding downhill to a premature demise, I stepped from U-666 fresh and ready as when I'd left the house. The guy at the parking lot gave me a serious double-take when I popped up out of the tower and insisted that I be given a special rate for attracting new customers. Naturally, when he haggled, I torpedoed the attendant shack and took the first spot I could find. The dumb shit should have known better than to argue with a u-boat commander.
Since San Francisco has become the new Atlantis this spring, transportation around town (and the Bay Area in general) has become a trick of art. Some of my acquaintances would describe me as a hardened biker who is just fine riding at suicidal speeds through the rain-drenched streets of this lovely town, or anywhere else for that matter. However, this ignores the unpleasant reality of "wet biker butt" that befalls all non-rain-suited riders who venture out in downpours. With SUVs being so passť and ungodly expensive to fill up in this time of excessive Big Oil gouging, I began looking around for a cheap and practical alternative that would also suit my eccentric sensibilities. Nothing, but nothing says "Wacko Individual Practicality" like a u-boat. Especially when that practicality is punctuated by the 5-inch deck gun or a couple of Mark II torpedoes.
I took delivery of the beast last Thursday, when Market Street was still only seven feet underwater. Paddling my canoe from the office to Pier 7, I paid cash to Herr Kohl and he signed me over the title. A quick dash of spray paint across the stencils I'd packed, and I was all ready to pilot U-666 home to Cathedral Hill. She was a bit sluggish as we lurched over the sunken sea wall by the Embarcadero, but by the time I'd crossed Davis Street at Market, I was pretty confident in my control. The sonar was pinging away on all the swamped cars that had come to rest near intersection at Front, challenging me to my first maneuvering rally. Unfazed, I lit a joint and gripped the wheel like a Popeye in a minefield. To my credit, I only tapped a couple underwater blips, doing far more damage to them than to my precious new purchase.
Surprisingly, U-666 has incredible uphill speed. It was low tide as I swung her up Franklin Street and towards my apartment. I managed to maintain 6 knots all the way up to Geary before hanging a left there and angling her back down the slope to my building. St. Mary's Catholic Prep is on the block behind my pad, and there's always ample parking on Ellis Street, which was great because my first few attempts at docking there were, um, clunky. Since then, I've become a whiz at squeezing into even the tightest spots. Even with parking the beast, I still get door-to-door between home and office in under twenty minutes. I have yet to test her around Nob or Russian Hills, but I expect promising velocities based on my preliminary tests.
With the Bay Area now taking yet one more lashing from an offshore system and no relief in sight, I heave a hearty FUCK YOU at all the naysayers who thought the U-666 purchase was just one more example of my idiotically indulgent financial management skills. Since fumigating the sleeping quarters and stocking the galley, I've enjoyed some fine nights aboard the former Nazi terror machine. The boat has fine electrical system, and with some rugs and other acoustic trimmings, the sound system really rocks. Not only that, but the deck and tower make for some great, er, romantic opportunities. I plan on spending the next week anchored out in the bay to avoid all those damned busses, trucks, and other formerly mobile obstacles that litter the previously urine-soaked streets of San Francisco and present obscene hazards to navigation.
There's no end in sight to the foul weather. Forecasters are preparing us for the grim reality that San Francisco, the Marin Headlands, and the East Bay Hills will from now on be an archipelago. Rising sea levels from global warming promise to make this a permanent reality rather than an unpleasant inconvenience. I'll miss a lot of things about the dry flatlands around town, like the cheap and fat burritos in the Mission, the wanna-be Marina Chicks of Cow Hollow, and the vapid vacuum that passed for human inspiration in the Financial District. But somehow, having my own u-boat in which to weather the coming weeks of ceaseless soaking will make it all okay. Not to mention some target runs on the Emeryville reef formerly known as Ikea.