A Few Stories From San Francisco.
Sweet Inspiration, a Pastry Shop.
It was packed but the owner made us try it all. She told us how the cheesecakes were made downstairs and which ones were the favorites and how she got the frosting smooth – not a wrinkle. She put an extra slice of cake and scoop of homemade whipped cream on our plates, and refused to take a penny more for either. She smiled and looked us each in the eyes. The cake was so rich I was sick for hours. It was all perfect.
Strangers spark up conversations. They share how great a day it is, or how good the food is, or how refreshing the sun is. They don’t seem satisfied until you look right at them and answer. I was suspicious at first. In New York eye contact is rude, and penetrating. But I’m pretty sure people really are that nice here. Maybe next time I’ll say something back.
The Orange Tree.
Lou peeked through a hole in a graffitied fence. Inside stood an overgrown garden with an orange tree in the middle. Bright weeds and vines covered the ground and climbed up the walls and oranges shone in the sun.
Men sit with men and women sit with women in circles, on top of cardboard boxes or whatever makes a good seat, playing cards. I don’t know the game, but every minute or so one of them will smack a card down as hard as she can, and the rest follow suit. It’s like bursts of machine gun followed by old women’s laughter.