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It is said that we never really leave high school. The workplace is high school with cubicles. Our neighborhoods are high school with cocktail parties.

When I heard about the San Francisco Board of Supes passing a resolution this week calling for the impeachment of the president, a move that followed one of the supes dismissing on national television the need for a standing military, I suddenly had an image of a high school made up of all the major cities in the country.

Just as every student plays a role in the dynamic of a school, so does every big city in the dynamic of a country. Los Angeles is the cheerleader with the nose job and the Juicy Couture tank top. Chicago is the good-natured linebacker who is the go-to guy when a keg needs tapping and isn't above stuffing the ballot box to become class president.

San Francisco is the odd kid in the back row of the classroom in the tattered vintage jeans and fuchsia scarf with a streak of orange in his hair. He doesn't wear leather and explains with the verve of an evangelist why not. He is of ambiguous sexual orientation and ethnicity, though there's a clear Asian influence. He has amazing bone structure. He is trim and elegant without being too polished. He carries himself the way people do who know they are beautiful. But he doesn't make any particular effort to look good. That would be shallow and, in his book, shallowness is about the most serious sin.

He sees himself as an intellectual, someone who is compassionate and sophisticated, well read and well traveled, socially conscious and politically enlightened. That not everyone sees him in the same way is of no concern to him. There is no question in his mind that they are wrong, and he is right.
Not surprisingly, he has opinions about everything, and shares them without reservation and without worrying what anyone thinks of him.

Indeed, there is often more than a hint of condescension in his opinions, as if he is trying his best to be patient while everyone else catches up to his forward thinking. He has reason to feel a little smug. Many of his ideas that seemed radical when first presented -- recycling garbage, for instance, or banning pesticides from playing fields -- eventually became commonplace. He's the one at the school who speaks up for the gays and lesbians, the nerds and hippies, the outcasts and losers. He's the one who organizes a boycott of the cafeteria until it serves only organic and free-trade products, who collects food and winter jackets for the homeless and who spearheads a recall of the principal.
Read more... )In a high school populated by major cities, San Francisco is the wild but likable radical. He's nutty, rebellious, smart, indulgent, arrogant, funny, gorgeous. And as much as his classmates ridicule his crazy ideas and out-there opinions, more times than not, the weird kid in the back of the room with the fuchsia scarf is on to something.

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September 2014

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