Cheese

Here’s a little tale i’ve been considering writing about since it happened.

About ten years ago a wealthy couple i’d known for decades flew into San Francisco in their private jet and alit here for a couple of days before continuing their trip. I was eager to show them around a bit because they had not visited San Francisco since well before i moved here, so i picked them up at their hotel and drove them around town for the afternoon, taking them places they wanted to go and showing them newer places i thought they would like.

The next morning bright and early i took them to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. This was in the days before it moved into its current location at the restored Ferry Building, so it was at the Embarcadero between Union and Green. Still, it was already legendary as one of the very finest farmers’ markets in the country, and i was excited to be able to introduce them to something so wonderful.

The day was gorgeous and they were immediately impressed with the market, exclaiming at the delicious free samples offered by the vendors. When we neared the end of the third side of the quadrangle i pointed out Capricious cheese at Achinhada, where they tasted a sample and agreed that it might be the best cheese they had ever eaten.

In those days, the girls in the stall used a giant, two-handled knife to slice the wheel of cheese into approximately equal wedges, which they sold for five dollars. When i asked for a wedge, the girl used a waxed paper square to pick up the next available wedge for me and wrapped it tightly. And then my friend told her he wanted one, also.

But when she started reaching for the next wedge, he shook his head and pointed to a different wedge that appeared slightly larger.

I don’t think i’d ever been quite so gobsmacked in my life. There could not have been a quarter’s worth of difference in the value of the wedges, but he could not be satisfied unless he got the biggest piece of cheese in sight.

I was so shocked that i couldn’t speak as i tried to process the implications of what i’d just seen. I had watched a fabulously rich couple eat their way through the market, stuff themselves on every bite of free food they could see, and still be so hideously greedy that he could not allow a quarter’s worth of cheese to escape his grasp.

He will never be satisfied. He will never never have enough cheese.

I finally managed to stutter that i had suddenly been taken ill and had to take them back to their hotel. And that was no lie.

I was certainly nauseated.

And saddened that this voracious plutocracy focused entirely on getting more more more for themselves regardless of the impact on society has, during my lifetime, offshored our manufacturing, outsourced our jobs, and taken over our government.

A monument to Christian charity. A church on Valencia Street

A monument to Christian charity. A church on Valencia Street

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