We ate brunch at a restaurant of the moment; it was the weekend apotheosis of our anxious efforts to integrate into San Francisco, participate in the zeitgeist, live as we gather we’re supposed to live. We stood in line in the cold as junkies scuttled up and down the hills, collecting in the doorways of lifeless, indifferent hotels, laughing and hollering at the hale citizenry unable to look directly into their blazing eyes. We were seated and transformed, as a group, into an innocent irritant for the performatively brusque waitstaff.
We ordered, reeled: it was all so good, as rich and perfect as the queen of a high school, as natural and appropriately dominant as that solitary girl whose totality of self-accord and will exempts her from the long, humiliating physical misunderstanding that is adolescence.
It’s a question of the quality of ingredients and the political awareness with which they’re prepared, I guess. There was a unisex bathroom and women’s bathroom, which no one could sensibly mind. It was soul food, but it wasn’t too heavy. How? San Francisco is where the soul food isn’t too heavy. It is not productive to wonder whether soul food should be too heavy, incidentally. San Francisco offers frequent instances of perfection unless you insist on inverting values resentfully. It’s hard not to do that, at least for me.
We were getting full, a nightmare. Abby said, “I’m sad that I am running out of room” and the question became: are Americans Kardashians for the rest of the world? On a global level, am I not like a latter-day Bush or a Kennedy or Hilton: born to a station, a fuckup unable to fuck it up so badly that I don’t wind up with all the world’s spoils anyway? The overwhelming majority of us, to the overwhelming majority of the world, live like those we resent in the rarefied celebriosphere: endowed with undeserved wealth by accident of birth, spoiled by years of unearned privilege, prone to bratty tantrums and capable of real despair at the most superficial of problems. We are inescapably soft; we have subtle complaints we experience as tragedies. Is this why we like reality television? Because in forgiving the limited, phony, lucky, greedy, selfish, shallow, childish idiots we see we experience a kind of self-forgiveness?
But there seems to be nothing for it: born as I was means that I worry about money and work but have too many farm-fresh free-range eggs to eat, too many cold-water oysters and too much fair-trade coffee, too many adjectives for a too-sensuous life of indulgent anxiety. My preoccupations are meta-preoccupations, which seems bad to idiot bands but is a blessing from nowhere.