In San Francisco all food is Mexican food. My son only eats black beans and rice. I exaggerate, but not by much. We have our ritual down at Little Chihuahua. He runs to a seat while I wait in line. Everyone knows him, his order, beans, rice, side of guacamole, chips, mixed with pico de gallo. Sometimes I talk philosophy with Cary at the register, he’s working his way through a master’s, reads Plato in Greek, has a book stashed among the wine glasses for the slow days. I mention Seneca, Ingratitude, Cary always seems at peace, big smile, bright intellectual eyes. For months the place only played Black Sabbath, ambiance music for toddlers, kids, baggy-eyed parents. Burritos, enchiladas, pozole, made by brown-skinned, t-shirted, Spanish speaking men. They move with deliberation, like high-speed tai chi masters, their rectangular kitchen, a well-rehearsed stage. Sustenance arrives steaming in small red and yellow plastic bowls. Hudson waits for me to stir it up, then attacks with animalistic hunger, drinks half a cup of water and we’re done. My son is the tallest kid in his class, I’m raising him, but he’s built by Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato.
Are you renting? Do you own? Where? (I love that neighborhood!). What are you up to this summer? This ski week? This weekend? Where do your kids go to school? They ask, sitting in their sparkling Mercedes, Tesla, Range Rover, or standing in front of their manicured garden, wearing Jimmy Choo shoes. Sometimes I want to answer: I’m renting, Visitacion Valley (where’s that?), working, can’t afford to ski, nothing, random public school. But I don’t, I usually play along, pretend like it matters, wealth, status. Name droppers, social climbers, Facebook vacation photo posters, flakes, the ones who don’t return emails, are SO busy. San Francisco, New York, LA, they are everywhere, at galas donating, sipping malbec, their smiling faces in magazines with page after page of real estate ads. Presidio Heights, Pacific Heights, Sea Cliff, tucked away behind fences, cameras, red and white Bay Alarm signs, safe. Old as time, rich, loaded, moneyed, affluent, well-heeled, well-to-do. I’m an American, I get it, the free market, understand the system, the distance needed between the haves and the nots. But how far is too far? When does our country end, the chasm too wide, American no more, just the rich and the poor?