san_francisco.jpgThere is almost nothing a San Franciscan appreciates like a well-timed observation about themselves. For those of us actually making the observations about San Franciscans (things they like, etc.) the self-satisfaction is two-fold in the sense that we feel good when we make the observation, and then, because we are San Franciscans too, we feel good that the observation was made.

It is of interest to note that whether the observation is good or bad doesn’t seem to matter, and you will often find a San Franciscan laughing just as hard at a put-down as at a put-up.

This can be explained in a couple of ways. The first being that nothing was ever satirized that wasn’t also loved. The second is that defensiveness is simply not a phrase that figures prominently in the San Franciscans’ personality, which makes it very difficult to offend them in any kind of meaningful way.

Even pointing out how egotistical it is to love observations about yourself simply because they are about you will only be met by a smile and a suggestion to go for a bike ride. You obviously can’t beat a San Franciscan, so you might as well join them for that bike ride or risk letting their egos get so large that they no longer fit into their helmets, and they hurt themselves.

What I’m trying to say is that left to their own devices San Franciscans will kill themselves with kindness 20 times a day.

This can all probably be explained by a quote from the movie version of The History Boys: “The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you.”

Which is also the best part of reading about San Franciscans when you are a San Franciscan. It makes us feel good, important, not alone, glowy, peachy, beachy, basically a lot like how Gisele probably feels everyday of her life, and she’s not even a San Franciscan, which is thought provoking.

Since most San Franciscans claim to be at least half Buddhist on their mother’s side, it would serve to reason that they would be less into self-aggrandizing observations about their own lives and more into the idea of “little people, big world.”

But it turns out that that kind of magical thinking doesn’t really interest them, me, us, you. What we really want is more information about us. We are the world, or at least our world, which might be bad, but is probably just normal, which to a San Franciscan is worse than bad, which is also normal.

We leave you with a poem, which might be about San Franciscans, but might not, either way it’s worth-reading.

You aren’t swept up whole,
However it feels. You’re
Atomized. The wind passes.
You recongeal. It’s
A surprise.

Kay Ryan

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  • Haze Valet

    I am so above this type of patently glorious narcissism. God I love San Francisco.

  • Kate Horton

    BREAKING NEWS: People enjoy reading about the city they live in.

  • Starchild

    There’s a fine line between a healthy interest in one’s life and surroundings, and the narrow-minded bigotry of parochialism and nativism. Hopefully San Franciscans will be mindful to stay on the better side of that line.

    The dangers of parochialism/nativism can best be seen by looking at the form in which it does the most harm in the world, namely nationalism. Nationalism has fueled countless wars, conflicts, and hateful prejudices. It helped empower political figures like Hitler and Stalin, and today in the United States it encourages things like the profiling of Latinos in Arizona.

    Taking pride in San Francisco is all well and good, and I love this city and its quirky cultures! But campaigns to pressure people into buying from certain merchants just because those merchants are local, and taxes and fees that inhospitably discriminate against visitors to the city (e.g. the hotel tax they’re trying to raise again via Prop. J this November, the parking permit system that makes it impossible to park in most parts of the city for more than a couple hours during a weekday unless you live in the neighborhood, and visitors having to pay more than locals to visit attractions like the Japanese Tea Garden), are philosophically no better than government discriminating against people on the basis of their nationality.

    If you’re one of the many San Franciscans critical of the Arizona anti-immigrant law (as we all should be), don’t forget to save some outrage and indignation for the ways in which your own local city government treats people not from this city as second-class citizens.