Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I'm A Bad San Franciscan

I want you to imagine with me that you're in a place not too far from here; a little neighborhood called the Upper Haight. The Upper Haight in San Francisco is home to many immigrants that made the long trek westward from their parents' suburban cul-de-sac in Ohio because they were told of the great expanse of concrete that awaited them in San Francisco. They were told of vast acres of public sidewalk available for squatting and begging. And so they left the couch in Mom and Dad's basement for the rugged and pioneering, Woody Guthrie-soundtracked, life of sitting Indian-style in front of a liquor store asking for spare change.

Often times, the women of these nomadic peoples will take the sundry pennies and nickels and even dimes and arrange a beautiful copper mosaic, glistening in the midday sun, that tells the stories of their travels and their learning. It is the word "PEACE".

Actually, it's usually the PEACE SYMBOL, because many of them are illiterate.

They can often be seen with a sickly dog on a rope leash who, if given the choice, would prefer euthanasia over spending one more day in the company of his present caregivers.

So you know the scene. . .

You're standing outside a club, or a cafe, or a smoke shop and you're having a cigarette.

Down the sidewalk strolls a young heterosexual coupling of these Middle American immigrants. The male of the species asks, "Hey, man, you got a cigarette?"

"Sorry," you respond.

They stroll on and then the female intones in sotto voce, "People in San Francisco are real assholes."

You do a double-take. "What's that, little missy?"

They stop and turn around. She points to herself, "Who, me? I just said people in San Francisco are real assholes."

Now, if you were a good San Franciscan--that is, one who is not an asshole--you would do the following in this situation:

Exactly! Nothing! "Just let it slide. . .it's okay. . .I haven't walked a mile in their shoes. . .it must be hard to be out here, so cold and so hungry. . .don't upset them. . .peace at any price. . ."

But if, like me, you're a bad San Franciscan, you will say the following at maximum volume:

"All San Franciscans, or do you have anybody specific in mind? So I'm an asshole cause I wouldn't give you a fucking cigarette? Is that right? What else you cranky about, little baby? You need your ba-ba? You want me to change your fucking diaper? I'm not here to raise you, bitch!"