|Tent People and Blanket People|
ach September the "Tent People" of San Francisco gather for two gala banquets-- the first on Wednesday after Labor Day, to celebrate Opening Night at the Symphony; and the second two days later, for the Opera's Opening Night. At each event the gentry are feted under a large tent, set up for the purpose in the parking lots off Franklin Street.
The Host Committee for the Tent People have a daunting task. They must make sure that the tent environment provides all of these amenities:
If the Committee fails its duty in regard to even one of these amenities, many of the Tent People will consider the evening badly marred, even ruined. If as many as three of the amenities are badly muffed, the consensus will be that the evening was a disaster, to be mentioned outraged tones for years afterward, with members of the Committee shunned or mocked. [The reader who doubts this should randomly select three from the above list, and conduct a thought experiment...]
While the hundreds of Tent People are being attended to, an even larger company of homeless people are coping with the later parts of their September day in the City-- some of them less than a minute's walk from the Tent. These homeless folks often wrap blankets around themselves as a simple deterrent against the cold of the later evenings; hence my manner of describing them, "Blanket People".
The Blanket People also have a list of things that they might look forward to on a September day:
Now, if even one of these amenities comes to pass, it will "make my day!" for the lucky homeless person. If-- Lord bless!-- three of these were to happen, it would be a day of such good fortune as to be remembered fondly for years.
But consider this marvelous feature of human nature: there are some Tent People for whom three or more amenities could be muffed, and their enjoyment of the evening-- though altered-- would overall not be a bit less. And there are some Blanket People whose sense of wretchedness would not be lessened if three, or six, or even all, of the amenities from their list came their way.
Gender is a major factor. It is the women who drive the agenda at Tent People events; the men seem rather out of place, as if they were being swept along by an irresistible tide. Contrariwise, the world of the Blanket People is a man's world, with the female minority playing their part with apparent passivity and reluctance. Perhaps because of their minority roles, the Tent People men are far more likely than the women to suffer missing amenities with cheerful insouciance-- while many of the Blanket People women have a crone-like inability to appreciate however many amenities may come their way.
Tent People and Blanket People, male or female, the human condition is a shared one: around eleven P.M. most of these People will manage a long, satisfying gulp of wine and a reflection along these lines, "Well, another long day in this amazing City of ours-- Lord, how sore my feet are!"(printer friendly version)