Tuesday, February 23, 2016
If you can possibly avoid it, don't be pregnant in San Francisco.
Every able-bodied man on the evening train will remain seated and looking at his phone while you stand in the aisle, huge on swollen feet, for thirty minutes.
If you fall down while crossing the street, a sea of young professionals will part around you and keep walking while a homeless person offers a hand up.
In public discourse, you will be described as a "breeder," and people will deplore your horrible child -- ruining restaurants! airplanes! -- even before it's born.
Your only consolation during all this will be -- what else? -- the food.
Thus at lunch, I would often end up at the Miette patisserie in the Ferry Building, mentally working out how many cupcakes I would need to survive the day.
Between stress and prenatal hormones, I was turning into a hoarder: I could eat one cupcake now, but what if -- back at my desk -- I wanted another one? And what if, after that one, I desperately craved another one? I had better get three. But what if . . . ?
"Four chocolate cupcakes to go, please."
Even now, years later, I am occasionally seized by the instinct to collect as much food as possible, like the industrious ant in the fable. This explains why, the other day, I found myself ordering an entire pizza topped with tater tots and bacon.
Arriving at Whole Foods at 10 a.m. ablaze with purpose, I was informed they no longer served breakfast pizza by the slice: It was "not popular."
Turns out, the kombucha-buyers at Whole Foods were not too keen on breakfast pizza: everything on a Denny's menu baked on a thin, crispy crust.
As I struggled to recover from this news, the nice young man behind the counter offered to make me my own breakfast pizza for pickup the next morning. Would it have tater tots on it?
Would it have bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese, onion, and bell pepper?
Yes, of course, whatever I wanted!
I glanced over at Dave, who had the distant, slightly troubled expression of a man watching his future wife order a 16" tater tot pizza.
Fifteen minutes later, we were playing Scrabble after a non-pizza breakfast. A terrible clarity descended on me: I was no longer hungry and could admit my folly.
"I need you to go over there and cancel that pizza I just ordered."
Even the counter boy seemed relieved: Both of us had been temporarily caught up in a swirl of madness. Tater tot pizza?
Back in San Francisco, the other thing I loved to get at the Ferry Building was a spicy beef curry, served daily over white rice at a Japanese cafe called Delica. I owe a lot to this curry, which many days was the only thing standing between me and a mind-shattering insight into the pointlessness and misery of human life: "I just can't possibly. . . It's just too . . . Wow, they have once again achieved perfection with this curry. Bravo!"
I can't say a slice of breakfast pizza ever helped me out of a tough spot, per se.
But I will always remember it fondly.
(Image: Baby Shower Cupcakes by Clever Cupcakes from Montreal, Canada [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)