Bedtime for Bonzo, and for You and for Me
A Fable for Today
There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children
She didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth
Without any bread.
She spanked them all soundly
And sent them to bed.
The San Francisco shoe is a bumpy affair,
an old brogan, worn around the edges, full of holes and lumps. The old
woman does her best to keep it mended, but she never seems to have the
time or the money to do everything that needs to be done.
And oh, those children! They’re all over the place,
climbing up the chimney, digging a tunnel under the basement, jumping out
the window, popping out of the closet. They’re good kids, but being kids,
their imagination works overtime. They’re constantly trying new things and
stirring up new forms of trouble.
The old woman loves them dearly.
Even bedtime, the hour when most homes grow quiet and
peace descends — even bedtime is tumultuous. The fact is, there aren’t
The “big kids” sleep in a nice set of four-posters,
brightly painted remnants of a generous wedding gift from a long-forgotten
great aunt. These kids don’t necessarily loom over the others in size,
although some have grown quite large, having perfected the art of sneaking
food from their neighbor’s plate when no one is looking. Some are just
speedier. Or more clever. Or just plain lucky.
Other beds are modest, cadged from thrift shops and
garage sales. Some, although shabby, have been well taken care of. Others
are literally on their last legs. But in any case, there aren’t enough to
Whether big or small, some of the kids have staked a
fierce claim to one or another of these modest beds. Some double up,
sleeping several to a mattress. The rest simply curl up in a corner of the
floor or take their thin blanket outside.
Recently, someone had the clever idea of roping
together some of the more dilapidated beds to make larger, sturdier ones.
It meant having to share, something that many of the children were happy
to do if it meant getting a more comfortable place to sleep. The big kids
immediately tried to move in. But little kids can be fierce when they band
together, and some of them managed to cling to their former cots, enjoying
the relative spaciousness of the new arrangement.
One day a neighbor stopped by the old shoe. He looked
around, noting in amazement the array of beds.
“Some of those have certainly seen better days,” he
said. “You know, Dufty’s General Store is having a sale this week. You
could probably trade all your old beds in for new ones, at very little
cost to you.”
The old woman protested that such a grand transaction
was beyond her means. Even if she could afford the purchase, it would
probably destroy her family. As she described the fevered scramble that
new beds would provoke, her heart went out to the little ones of her
brood, who she knew would never be able to have one.
“Well then, why not convert just the ones you have
tied together? That shouldn’t be a problem, because you could give them to
the kids who were already held the old ones in common.”
The old woman shook her head.
She said, “You don’t know these children. As soon as
I exchanged the old beds for new ones, the big kids would be all over
them. The precarious harmony we’ve worked out over the years would be
destroyed. And I fear that the little kids would be driven out for good.”
She sat for a minute, staring at her hands, thinking
of the better world she once envisioned for her children. “It would be
different if I could buy a huge shipment of new beds, so that everyone
could have one. But I can’t cut off part of my family for the sake of the
The moral of this story: Condo conversion is bad
This afternoon the San Francisco Board of
Supervisors considers the following proposal:
050177 [100% owner-occupied TICs]
Supervisors Alioto-Pier, Dufty, Elsbernd
Ordinance allowing owners of 2-6 unit buildings to
convert the building into a condominium where the building was owned as a
tenancy-in-common on January 20, 2005 and was 100% owner-occupied on
January 20, 2005 and making environmental findings.