On the fifth day of election
I was woken yesterday by cheering and whooping in the streets.
(Which was overall great, though I think replacing the part of the day, [get enough sleep and then wake up and remember who you are and what you were doing and then do some familiar morning rituals while your brain warms up] with [abrupt emergence into city-wide celebration] was disorienting in a way that I failed to shake all day.)
After some music, Champagne, party hats, chatting with the housemates, and putting on our best red-white-and-blue outfits, my boyfriend and I set out for a walk in the city, tentatively toward b. patisserie, legendary and inconveniently distant producer of kouignoù amann.1
Within a few blocks we found cars and pedestrians breaking into rounds of cheering and waving at each other, and a general sense that the whole street was a party to this. We still had our party hats, one with an American flag sticking out of the top, so there was no ambiguity for other street-goers about whether we were.
We took a detour for downtown Castro, to see if it was more exciting. Apparently that was in fact the Schelling point for being excited together. When we got to the intersection with Castro street, cars were still going through it slowly, but each one seemed like an event somehow. While we watched, the crowd overcame the road entirely.
I wasn’t keen to walk through this, due to my poor imagination for how aerosols work in large outdoor crowds, so we turned back up a side street and went around. Roads seemed fuller than they have been since March, I think with people just driving around for the revelry. I soon wished that I had brought a musical instrument, when my hands were tired from clapping. A couple passed us with little bells in each hand to tinkle. We received compliments on our (very minimal) cardboard hats.
Away from the Castro it was a bit more normal. We stopped to get coffee and a woman outside the cafe asked us if we were celebrating the election. “Uh, yes?” “Does that mean it’s been called?” “Yes!” She was glad. She had been aggressively avoiding the election coverage apparently, and I suppose the scene in the park outside the cafe could also be explained by it being a surpassingly pleasant Saturday on normal weather related grounds. The cafe was selling Champagne. We bought a bottle.
The next park we got to was even less celebratory—at a glance, more full of inert young people at very safe distances, engaged in solitary phones and music and such. But over the hill a group of women were playing loud music and called out to us. ‘It’s our fuck Trump playlist! Enjoy!’ We stood a while on the crest of the hill and looked out over the city. A band of dogs frolicked in the sun, the light making a halo in the white mane of a golden retriever.
“What are the chances they actually have kouign amann?” For some reason places generally say they will sell kouignoù amann, but then don’t actually have any, or only have one, or are closed at all of the times you ever want a kouign amann. Philz Coffee has been out of kouignoù amann for at least a month. I had a better feeling about this place though. The one time I went there years ago, it had more of a kouign amann production outlet vibe, and veritable mounds of kouignoù amann of different flavors. Still, approaching the bakery at last, we hardly dared hope. I put 55% on kouignoù amann, but admitted that that probably meant 40%, empirically. He was much less optimistic.
But we reached the bakery, and it had stand after stand of them. We asked if we could really buy like ten of them, or whether this would deprive others. We could. We noticed another case with as many kouignoù amann again. We got eleven, and some cookies and cake too. Then on the way home we stumbled upon another noted kouignoù amann bakery, and got one more.
A kouig amann (plural kouignoù amann) is a kind of French buttery sugary pastry. It’s a bit like toffee with quite a lot of pastry in it. ↩