The Tank was absolutely booming last night as the San Jose Sharks, after twenty-five years of great and sometimes heartbreaking promise, finally punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. There are wonderful things happening in San Jose right now and the electricity surrounding the city's NHL franchise is only part of it. I've been spending a lot of time in the South Bay over the last few months and I've been both surprised and refreshed by what I've seen. Living in a large metropolitan region seemingly obsessed with authenticity, I have to say that no other Bay Area city seems as comfortable in its own skin as San Jose. I don't hear nearly as much of the neo-pageantry when I talk to people and the conversations I do have are lighthearted and real. As the Sharks finally put away the Blues and, for the first time in team history, won the Western Conference, seventeen thousand of us slapped hands, chanted loudly, and walked out into the balmy South Bay evening; a hoard of teal moving down Santa Clara St. There was a true sense of community there last night, something I feel is lacking in other parts of the Bay. People wanted to be out, to socialize, and to share their city. My wife and I didn't want to leave.
I think being a likeable person begins with the ability to let down your guard and be honest about who you are. I don't like people who take themselves too seriously. Hell, no one likes people who take themselves too seriously. If there's an industry and a region where taking yourself seriously is often an art, it's the food and drinks business in San Francisco. I laughed out loud when I heard one of my co-workers say earlier this week: "I thought the sushi was good, but then again I didn't come out of the womb eating only sushi, so what do I know?" Life in the Bay Area (and on the internet by extension) can often be a competition over some of the dumbest, least-desirable characteristics—like who has never eaten at McDonald's or who has watched fewer hours of television over the course of their life. I try to remain as positive as possible in the face of this mindset, but sometimes the posturing just overwhelms me and I want to bury my head in the sand. But last night in San Jose I didn't feel any of that. I drank tall cans of Bud Light with complete strangers who were keeping it very real.
There's still hope out here in the West. Go Sharks!