My favorite florist shop was closed, a fact I was so reluctant to accept that I just stood there staring at the big turquoise doors as though they might suddenly spring open. I'd gone there specially. At least, I comforted myself, I hadn't, in the end, come on the train. Making a specific and ultimately fruitless trip via public transport is worse. There was still the parking place to be considered though. You can't just let a perfectly good Saturday parking place in the heart of the Mission shopping district go to waste, after all. I got a burrito and pretended for a minute it was a burrito I'd come for all along. That was lunch sorted, but I was still flower-less, so I went, with some reluctance, to Bi-Rite.
I stood in front of the meager winter flower selection even longer than I'd stood longingly outside the florist's. Much longer. It wasn't so much that there was nothing that appealed to me, as that everything was $5-10 more than I wanted it to be. Those branches of bright red berries that would have rendered any arrangement instantly Christmasy were, unaccountably, $20. Three hydrangea blooms for $15. Ditto eucalyptus. While I stood there dithering, a man passed by with his father who was hooting with disbelief at the price of some two-foot Christmas trees. "Forty dollars! Forty dollars for that tree?" "Yeah," said his son, "This place....The other day I bought a steak here. Thirty bucks. One steak." They had already passed the store, when they turned back. The visiting father, grinning broadly, returned to the pricey pine and snapped a photo, which I'm sure will generate plenty of mirth for his friends back home, wherever that may be. It might be anywhere in the whole country, really, besides Manhattan, and be greeted with equal incredulity.
Recently, I had to purchase my first-ever pair of prescription glasses. That's another story. A sad story about being old and blind that will keep for another day. I went, as I have been programmed to do by word of mouth, good design, and marketing, to Warby Parker. I feel that most glasses look stupid on my face, so the trying on and rejecting of possible frames took a long time. I didn't mind. It's a shop full of pretty people (all of whom look to me as though they already own the glasses they are trying on. Am I the only one with stupid-glasses face?) and a strangely festive air. But as strangers and I gave each other feedback on our selections, two completely unrelated people said to me, "Well, it's only $95, so it doesn't really matter."
I have been thinking about this for months. I have been told that $95 is a great bargain for glasses (I wouldn't know, having only recently become old and blind), so possibly this is all they meant. But there was a tone. A sort of dismissive tone. A tone that suggested $95 was little more than one might be expected to pay for a passably drinkable cup of coffee. (Which it may be. I also don't drink coffee.) It bothered the hell out of me.
I would like to go on record right now, San Francisco, and say that I think $95 is a lot of money. A bargain, possibly, but still not a negligible sum. I think, just possibly, that in our town of thirty-dollar steaks and four-thousand dollar one-bedroom apartments, we are losing a wee bit of perspective. And, frankly, it's making us look like jerks. Attractively bespectacled jerks.
Oh! In case you're worried, I should say that did buy some very nice and reasonably priced tulips.
Also, while we're in confessional mode, I will tell you that I considered titling this "dolla dolla bill, y'all" which is a phrase that I have just floating around in my head, plucked unknowingly from the Jungian soup of popular culture. So I looked it up and decided that, since I don't know the Wu Tang Clan from Wang Chung, I'd better just leave it alone.