You live in San Diego. You're lazy and often hung over. Know you're not to blame-you're this city's heartbeat. Be genuine and never be swayed by the city's gleaming veneer.
Having attended to your civic duties the night before (you hit up two bars, had three types of booze and a few of someone else's cigarettes), you know that today you must make it up to your softening body. You decide to take a bike ride.
Wake up thirsty. It's noon. Put your bike in the car and get a coffee and a C Monster at Starbucks. Understand that the first rule of true authenticity is knowing when to let it go. You want coffee that tastes delicious and you do not care if it arrived by burro or barge.
Park near Balboa Park's Hall of Champions Sports Museum-you've always been meaning to visit but never have. (Note: You hardly do anything you mean to these days.) Remember: Balboa Park is one of the more interesting city parks in this great nation and you will one day appreciate that, but for now, you need to get as far away from your car as possible and punish yourself with a hill.
Drop down into Florida Canyon and admire the debris left there by last night's random rainstorm. There's a sneaker and a diaper and a bag of bags. Trash is real. Head up Morley Field Drive, turn right and head east on Upas. Your legs burn. Run the stop sign and recall last night when you kissed someone's hips as the rain spit through the screened window beside your bed. Before you know it, you should be at the Jack in the Box on Upas and 30th Street, pondering the Ciabatta Burger. Think better of it, turn right on 30th and push on down to Sombrero on Fern and Ivy (2201 Fern St.) for San Diego's most authentic breakfast Burrito.
While most dependable burrito huts are fluorescently lighted and hastily painted dirt holes where you shout your order into a cage and dig for wet radishes with your fingers, Sombrero is, contrarily and to your dismay, a pleasant looking place. Authenticity is thought. Authenticity is care. Authenticity is the optimism that you haven't had since college. Sombrero takes care with its breakfast burritos and understands that the easiest way to ruin one is to go heavy on the eggs, so they split them evenly with the meat (which, because you have something that resembles a soul, is chorizo). The burritos aren't the biggest, but the perfect proportions and generous amount of cheese make them far and away the most delicious.
Eat half, give the rest to the Santa Claus-looking homeless guy with the extremely obedient dog, hop back on the vintage Raleigh Grand Prix, head back up 30th to the center of South Park and think about how there's 20 CDs you want. Don't be able to remember a single one and notice the sweat beginning to bead on your forehead. Count on M-Theory Music (2234 30th St.) to jog your memory.
The disheveled shopkeep will look up and directly at the stains on your shirt. (Note: Both pit and chorizo grease.) Smile and begin fingering through the used vinyl. Per usual, he's playing a CD you like but don't know, but he isn't smug about it. They don't have Hunky Dory, so settle on Young Americans. M-Theory does what it can, and that's real. It doesn't try to out-cool its customers, and that's refreshing. Buy the Bowie and an old Devendra Banhart. Take the rubber band off your wrist and attempt to strap your purchases to your bike rack. Somehow it works. (Note: Pinch yourself.) Stretch and know that if the Whistle Stop Bar (2236 Fern St.) were open, you'd go in and take advantage of the liberally poured whiskey sours and the jam-packed jukebox. 'Cowgirl in the Sand' would get spun. Know that sometimes things are real because they're the same amount of fake as you. Know that equal ratios create genuine authenticity. Whiskey sours are a pose you strike and 'Cowgirl' is a deep cut you keep picking solely for the scar. Everyone's putting on the same show. Don't feel so bad.
Pump it north toward University Avenue and enjoy a short-lived respite from the strong sun provided by a cumulus cloud. Take an infamous 30th Street jog and notice some fat and freckled caramel-colored kids with dirty mouths calling out, 'Faggot.' Wave. After a left on University, pass Western Steakburger (2730 University Ave., great burgers, better gyros) and catch almost all the lights on your way to Hillcrest. Turn left against one-way traffic to get to 5th Avenue Books (3838 Fifth Ave.). Real used bookstores should smell like something both specific and peculiar and be characteristically creepy-5th Avenue is no different; it smells like earwax and every employee creeps you out. (Note: Especially when they smile.) But remember: the literature section is growing and the prices are low-ish and often negotiable if you bring in trades. Be reading a random paragraph in Tortilla Curtain when your phone rings. Have it be the girl with the kissable hips and have her want to know if you're hungry. Do not be hungry, but say, 'Starved.'
Have her ride her pink beach cruiser to Sushi Deli (228 West Washington St.). Have already written your name on the list and be sitting on the bus stop bench reading your T.C. Boyle. Have no idea if the sushi is 'authentic' or not. Scratch that. Know damn well that the Shauna Roll-sweet potato tempura and cream cheese-is wholly inauthentic, but enjoy it nonetheless for it's the establishment's '80s family-room wallpaper and the failingly hip clientele that make this place authentic. Genuine obliviousness is authentic. Be sipping the Sapporo you're splitting when the girl tells you she has to go work on a paper. Ignore her and say, 'Come to the park with me.' The couple sitting next you should be breaking up.
Back on the bikes you should be thinking that Balboa Park is the best way to spend an afternoon with this girl: The two of you will watch coeds playing backgammon by the koi pond, lying flat on the fresh-cut Zoysia; laugh at the toddlers splashing in the fountain; sit by the bocce-ball court and let your sushi digest.
But you've returned to the park this afternoon for one reason only: to visit the Museum of Photographic Arts gift shop. The gentleman behind the counter knows you're not going to buy anything, and he hates you for it. Hate, especially from a gift-shop clerk to a penniless fool, is authentic. Flip through some art books (Note: Be searching for authentic tits, soft and low-hanging.) Let it be obvious to everyone in the store that you're here today solely to take advantage of the shop's piéce de résistance: the mid-century photo booth. Mildly clever manipulation, especially if that's all you can muster, is authentic. You are not a handsome man and this is the only camera on earth that makes you look good. Lies are extremely authentic. Look at the photos and don't hate yourself. Your ride is over; you're really real.