It Takes a Village

Village 4

We live in a little-known San Francisco neighborhood called West Portal, so-named because it’s located at the western entrance (or, that’s right, portal) of the public transit tunnel cut under Twin Peaks.

One of the first businesses we patronized when we moved here, some 22 years ago, was Village Grill, a definite step back in time, in a neighborhood that felt like the San Francisco I remember from my youth. It was a place with simple food, good and ample. It was a place where you’d run into friends, friends of parents, off-duty MUNI drivers and mechanics, the local dentist and, every so often, politicians and reporters.

The Village Grill was hospitable to everyone.

On one Sunday morning, when the place was too crowded to get a table or a booth, Erika and I sat at the counter and met a lady, about a decade older than my mom, who told us about her honeymoon at Yosemite in the early 1930s.

The servers became friends, or at least confidants. The cooks were blurs of activity and sweat.

Village 1

It was always active, without ever being too noisy to talk. The food was good and basic. It never became cute, trendy, or fashionable. They did, a few years ago, add a full Irish breakfast to the menu, but that was an accommodation to the many Ireland-born tradespeople in the neighborhood, not any foodie pretensions.

Sadly, I have to use the past tense because, as of tomorrow, the Village Grill will be no more. The owners have sold to the owners of the very-foodie Toast, a place that deals in much loftier fare and atmosphere. Neighborhoods, change, it is true, as my neighborhood proves. We’ve long since lost our Payless Shoe Store. But this loss hits me hard.

For me The Village Grill was living proof that my neighborhood wasn’t growing too big (or trendy) for it’s purposefully old-fashioned britches.

Village 3


Douchiness, Defined (Humor – NSFW)


Someone who has surpassed the levels of jerk and asshole, however not yet reached fucker or motherfucker.


I’ve lately been brought into discussions about douchey men because my beloved daughter is going off to college in a few months and I very much want to prepare her for what she’s liable to encounter.

[As an aside, about a year ago, and quite out of the blue, my daughter asked me why boys her age are so stupid. I told her that, if she’s really really lucky, males her age would reach her level of maturity about the time she hits her thirties. She asked if they wouldn’t be there in college and I responded that, no, males are at their stupidest and most immature during their college years.]

The first question I’m often asked when discussing the definition of douchiness is, “When describing someone, is it ‘douchiness’ or ‘douchebaggery’?” To my mind douchiness is the quality of being a douche. Douchbaggery is a word to describe the action or actions of a douche.


If not, let’s look at some concrete examples of douche characteristics – I often find this helpful.

Car they drive, or aspire to drive: BMW

College they attended, or at least wear the hoodie from: Princeton (see also Princeton mom)

Sport they play, or pretend to know about: Lacrosse (abbreviated ‘LAX’)

City they live in, or are from originally: Dallas, Texas

Tech leader they admire: (tie) Justin Rosenstein and Bryan Goldberg

Drink they order to impress when out at a bar: Artisanal bourbon or pretentiously expensive champagne

Accessory du jour: Warby Parker monocle

Wardrobe they’re habitually seen in, whether event-appropriate or not: shorts, polo shirt, no socks (an aging classic but still reliably indicative)

Favorite passtime: beer pong

Got the picture more clearly now, honey?



[And before I hear from every guy I know who plays/played lacrosse and doesn’t think himself a douche, or mom of a kid who plays lacrosse and isn’t (yet) a douche, let me stipulate that not all such people are douches. (Just a large majority.)]

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