Mi Casa

When our decorator…yes, I am surprised to say, we have one…sent us a bill for window curtains, well, things reached critical mass. We’d rather spend this on starving children, Jane said without an ounce of irony. Indeed. With the planet going to hell in a gilded handbasket, we felt like enablers. And it felt good, saying no to some cloths dangling in front of windows, a.k.a., draperies. The decorator’s proposal would have draped draperies in most, but not all, rooms…at a cost equivalent to a rather nice new car.

How did two sensible people get themselves in this predicament? Sheer ignorance. After all, we’re not decorating Versailles. And these drapes were described as medium cost…not bargain-basement and not luxury…so, what the hell? Though, to make an important digression, what were we doing with an interior decorator in the first place? Initially this was mostly my idea. Ideas being rather thin on the ground, for me, when it comes to home decor. Jane had been thinking about these matters for years, as a sort of decorator hobbyist. Me, I am naturally oblivious.

So I was slightly offended this very afternoon when our domestic discussions turned to shower curtains. In fact, my proposing this topic represents a sea change of no small order. I, for once, was the impetus. And the grounds? After all, it must be pointed out, we do have a shower curtain. And although I insist the current one is hard to slide and tends to cling to wet body parts…one of my major complaints is the look. Yes, the dammed aesthetics. How did I get here? Since when did I even notice shower curtains, let alone get involved in their design specs? Since fairly recently, is the answer. Don’t ever doubt the civilizing influence of women.

As for the room-type curtains, having decided that for the custom variety it was, well, curtains…off we went to Restoration Hardware. Call me crazy, but I tend to think of this chain as being rather pricey. But that’s because I am new to San Francisco, where the tech explosion, a.k.a. bubble, has the entire economy frothing. The city can’t avoid its roots in boom-bust cycles…the gold rush…the railways…maritime commerce…the world wars. So, one minute, grocers are exporting eggs to the 49ers digging for treasure in the Sierra foothills…then merchants do much the same thing to some guy who has coded a fitness app. It’s a strange city. I don’t know where the artists live. And I think about this. Often.

Meanwhile, this is a city where you can get to the opera on a bus and encounter others doing the same. So what, you say. But you only say this if you live in New York…maybe Chicago…or Europe. I like the idea that I can take the 36 Teresita bus down to the Mission District for a hasslefree, no-parking-worries burrito. Thing is, I want to keep it that way, the Mission District, that is. When I was a grad student…ok, four decades ago…I frequented Mi Casa, a 24th Street restaurant that served up an entire chicken taco dinner for three dollars. I thought the place was gratifying in its very existence. True, the sopa de pollo tasted watery, as though a passing chicken had dipped its wing in the pot. I didn’t care. It was going out to eat, a social ritual, a convenience and, secondarily, a nutrition source.

It’s increasingly hard to find the likes of Mi Casa. I can’t even find the former site of the restaurant. Nor can I quite believe that a trendy Philz Coffee outlet now occupies the same block near Folsom Street. Who buys cappuccinos there? Where do these people live? I know the answer to all these questions. I also know what these people are paying for curtains.

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