424. Have I got a deal for you

 

So the new manager of my coffee shop has been making changes rapidly since he showed up less than a year ago to replace the lovely and inimitable Andrea, who moved on to work against sex trafficking. Andrea replaced Krista, who works with kids and got married. After Mitch left to lead worship services at my church. After Jake, Shelly, Jana, Sam and Emily and hundreds more barristas served their time in the coffee trenches. They come and go like Haitian presidents. Unlike Haitian presidents, however, they usually leave public service alive.

Which brings me to Nokay the newby and his almost able assistant Ong. They are housemates and friends on top of being employer/employee, which needs to be investigated soon by a federal agency before the Orange Emperor eliminates all such agencies. The boys are young and vital. Nokay the unmanager has been making executive orders as if he were a diabetic checking his blood sugar three times daily, then writing orders in a single drop of blood. Every day brings another change into the monkey cage of Coffee Nation. There is the soda case, the new table arrangements, menu changes, oaky decor overhaul, and more. But he has gone too far with his latest gimmickry.

On the wall behind the bulging soda/salad/parfait case Nokay had erected an exclusive coffee club cubby station rack of time shares for elite, by invitation only members.  I noticed it going up and slowly filling with black and blue logoed coffee mugs advertising the shop. At first I thought it was an attractive display of overpriced coffee mugs made in China. More wall art with a sales angle. Then neatly typed names began to appear below these mugs. Other mugs appeared to break up the black and blue monotony. “How nice”, I naively thought to myself, “a personal holding rack for regulars. How considerate. I may have misjudged Nokay.”

Then it got real yesterday around noon. Nokay approached me with the deal of the year as I waited for Ong to bring me a cup of delicious Tuscan Tortellini soup.

“Burrito, would you like to join the exclusive, elite, for members only coffee cubby?”

“Well, that depends on the deal.”

“Okay, let’s talk turkey.”

“As my ghost writer said in The Fart of the Deal, ‘Always negotiate from strength’.”

“Um, the terms are simple:  for $75 you can join and then drink all the coffee you want for a year at only $1.00 per cup. You get your own black and blue mug and a name tag.”

At this point his other bean lackey Grace offered to type up the paperwork and print the neat label on the cubby of my choice.

“Slow your roll, Marla Marbles. I’m working a deal here. It’s gonna be huge. I’ve talked with a lot of generals and the border patrol and they all agree with me.” Turning back to Nokay, “My price point is $50. You keep the mug.”

“I can’t do that. The mugs are worth $10 each.”

“Stop! You sell them for ten bucks, but you buy them for less than two bucks from China. The mug is off the table. I’ll provide my own Bob Dylan mug.”

Ong arrives. “How about a hug from me to sweeten the deal?”

“No hugs, no mugs, no drugs. Shut up, Ong. I’m working a deal here. It’s gonna be huge. Look at these hands. Call the generals. People love me.”

Nokay, “Here’s what I can do… $65.00 without a mug, plus your pick of old tee shirts which sell for $12.00 to folks who don’t know any better. And a free sample bag of stale coffee.”

“Again, I have several of those tee shirts. I wear them when I want to appear anonymous. They work like bug spray to repel sighted humans. Plus, I have my own custom made coffee shop tee shirt with my title and logo on it. And, under the belly line, printed upside down, is this bold statement: ‘You need to Growaset’.”

“No, sir. You go too far.”

“It’s true. I’ll wear it this Thursday.”

Ong, “How about that hug? It’s cooled off a bit to normal body temperature.”

“Ong, hug off!! Stay behind the bar or I swear I’ll hit you with this pint of Pepsi.”

Nokay, “What are your conditions?”

“I want Bob Dylan facing right on the top shelf with lightning bolts blazing out from his face.”

“Done. Grace, get on that.”

“I want an upstream payment of $1.00 from each of the previous suckers who bought into this square ponzi scheme whose cups are ranked below mine.”

“Not done. I’m not paying you to drink coffee here for free. I’m selling you an opportunity to save hundreds of dollars in your coffee budget.”

“Your ‘savings’ require me to spend money, Nokay. If you really want to save me money instead of persuading me to part with slabs of my money, you’d meet my terms and Grace could print out those lightning bolts. Why are you being so obstructionistic? I am trying to get this economy moving toward greatness again.”

“But you’re impossible. You act like you are negotiating, but all you are doing is taking. You aren’t giving anything. Can’t we meet in the middle?”

“Son, the middle is where you stick the knife, just above the navel. Read my book.”

“Just cut to the chase.”

“I have trained your barristas in how to deal with difficult customers, true?”

Reluctantly, “Yesssss.”

“At no charge, just a gentlemen’s agreement.”

“Okay.”

“Nokay, I have blogged about your enterprise bringing in untold business to you without increasing your advertising budget.”

“But we never…”

“Silence!! I’m not finished. I have invested thousands of dollars in this business over years of faithful customerization. I haven’t tried to weaponize or monetize my loyalty… and here we are arguing over a lousy fifteen bucks. Aren’t you ashamed?”

“uhhhh, I don’t know. I’m really confused right now.”

“Okay, here’s how we will settle this:  I’m folding this five dollar bill vertically. If you can pinch it as I drop it, you win. If you can’t, I win. We’ll do this three times or until the fifteen dollars is taken care of. Deal?”

“Sure. No, it’s a trick. I’ll lose… just, okay. I’ll pay you to drink coffee for a year, plus free muffins, just stop!! My sanity is at stake here.”

“You gotta deal, son.”

“And those other fools will pay for my wall.”

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362. Connectivity

The first text on my smart phone was from my downstairs tenant who scarfs my wifi at work… “Heads up:  Your wifi is down.” Wow, the first message of my day tells me that I have been disconnected from the world of Facebook and email and… oh no, my blog. I can’t be cut off from my psychic crutch!! What will my three secret followers held in a North Korean gulag do? I’ll have to call Dennis Rodman and Tom Cruise later to reset the linkage. International back channel diplomacy/espionage is not for the weak willed or timid tummied. It’s time to Growaset!

Well, it was coffee nation morning so I had to be off to the monkey cage. No time for silly things like cyber-connectivity. I was on my way to the beaten up couch and chairs where six of us would huddle and talk a bit too loud to be considered mannerly. Joel the rabble rouser was not in residence. He’s traveling in warm places this week and next. It’s a rendezvous with Sheila the mule in the Grand Canyon, which I will share in another post, after the preliminary hearing and terms of bail are set. Last week he tried hard to start an insurrection, suggesting that if he won the lottery he’d buy us all coffee for life, thus unseating and usurping my imperial rule. I had to beat back their fantasies of democracy. What if mules got the vote?  Do you think they would keep hauling fat tourists in and out of the Grand Canyon?  NO!!  I will never be usurped while I am busy surping my Sumatran blend. No coffee nation, no banana republic, no fundamentalist theocracy is or ever will be a democracy. But tyrants are people too. We serve a useful purpose among herd animals. Joel came to his senses and repentantly bought my coffee last Friday. A small but sincere gesture of rapprochement, which is French for detente.

Rob the young blood was already in coffee mode when I arrived. He apologized for asking me a serious question on No Thinking Thursday, but I allowed it due to the fact that we were technically ten minutes early. After all, I am a benevolent dictator. Steve rolled in wearing jeans and sneakers. Another paid day off for him. Sort of. He volunteers his accounting skills to the high school band, which he plugs shamelessly. “Hey, we’re having another spaghetti dinner next Friday. We raised all kinds of money for the marching band competition, which we hosted and won last year. FAMBU accredited. So we are.”

“And what does FAMBU stand for?”

“Oh, the Federation of American Marching Bands Unlimited. Don’t make the mistake that the last treasurer made and call them BAMBU, which is the Brotherhood of American Marching Bands Unlimited. They are posers to the throne of Martial Music. He was escorted off school grounds and roughly de-badged, that guy. Whew! We had to start with all new passwords. Lemme tell you, it was a hot mess.”

Mercifully Doug rolled in and shook hands around. I quickly diverted the band conversation to Rob and the Steelers. “So, Rob, the Steelers are done now, eh?”

“Yeah. I guess I’ll be pulling for the NFC team in the Super Bowl. I can’t get behind New England or the Broncos.”

Steve, “New England cheats all the time, right?”

All, “Yep. Steve, you go to one Ravens game and now you are a sports guru.”

Steve, “I don’t think Brady should even be allowed to play after deflate gate.”

Rob, “Yeah, the MVP of last year’s Super Bowl and he was almost suspended four games. You know the Seahawks lost that game because they were trying to make Russell Wilson the hero and not Marshawn Lynch. Wilson is nice and Lynch is not, i.e., marketable. And it backfired. So the cheater got the MVP.”

Lance, arriving fashionably late. “Let me strut my swagger, gentlemen.” Handshakes around.

Rob, “The Seahawks have never won a Super Bowl.”

BS,” Correction: they won the year before, remember? They crushed Peyton and the Broncos.”

Rob,”Oh, right.”

BS,”Doug, here is a trivia question for you. Name the only Doug who was the Super Bowl MVP.”

Lance-a-blurt, ” Doug Williams, Redskins.”

BS,” Thanks for your blurtation, Lance. You didn’t even raise your hand!”

Lance, with both hands in the air now, doing some full body butter churn torso wobble. “And, that was the strike shortened year… late 80’s, Super Bowl 22…”

BS, “Just shut up now! We were doing fine with our low football IQ until you came in showing off.”

Steve, “Deflate yourself, Lance.”

Lance, “I think not. My tee shirt says, Grown a set.”

Steve, “Don’t get me started…”

BS,”Uh oh, looks who’s riding into town. Cowboy Chuck!”

Chuck canters through the chairs with horse swagger, handshakes around.

“The girl asked me if I was in Coffee Nation. How’d she know?”

“Lucky guess or you look like the other five circus clowns in the back room.”

Chuck, “So have we solved the world’s problems yet? Cuz ya’ll was loitering like this the last time I was here…”

BS,” Which was two years ago.”

Chuck, “I can’t remember if it’s the second or third Thursday of the month…”

BS, “Shut up! Look, this is why you are a bench warmer and not a starter like Steve. He leaves one of the largest multinational corporations in the lurch almost every Thursday at 8:30 so he can run on our squirrel wheel. No excuses from Steve O. He leaves it all on the field, Chuckie. He’s a team player not some lone wolf who rolls along like a tumbleweed…”

Chuck, “I’m sorry, man.”

BS,”It’s alright, man. We just need to hug our way through it. We’re all glad that you’re here.”

Chuck, “Yeah, I need me some connectivity.”

All, “That’s right, right on. Come on down.”

BS, “As the late great Marvin Gaye said…

What’s goin on? Tell me what’s goin on. You know we’ve got to find a way, to bring some love in here today….what’s goin on?”

 

 

317. Don’t Call Me Cupcake!!

Joel and I walked into the coffee shop together. Barristas Becky and Cali noted that we were both wearing shirts that were pink or coral. We did a two step for their entertainment and a little shuffle. I suggested that the girls wait on him first since at his advanced age he does not have long to live. They complied.

Then Becky wanted to take our picture, not sure why. Posterity? Security?  We declined. Then she offered us free cherry cupcakes if we would model them, since they were pink and matched and it was very girly.

Image result for girls taking pictures with smartphones

We posed happily yet wearily. Not really. I just wanted to type that. “They were weary of the world, these two world weary soldiers from World War II.” We sat down at Table 1, seats A and B.

“Are you going to put this in the blog?” Joel asked as he chomped into a chicken salad wrap.

“Maybe, if it gets legs and walks farther into my deep twisted cortical brain center and passes through the ulterior medulla matrix.”

Looking a bit edgy over his round lenses, “Don’t go all psycho babble on me, please!”

“Easy, laddie Buck.  Did a hornet fly up your butt this morning? You are not your usual jovial soap bubble self. Where is my Bubbles?”

“You know most people just write about what happened in their rather dull days. It’s not challenging or disturbing, but you have to twist everything into knots… No wonder that guy on Facebook was so upset with you.”

“Don’t start, Joel. He was a Trump supporter, which is sort of like being a proud jock strap.”

“Yes, that’s true. I just don’t feel like being agreeable today. I’ve been living in a motel room for the past four weeks while contractors gut my house.”

“I thought you were gutless and therefore unguttable. That’s impressive. Which motel?”

“You can’t put that on the internet. I could be robbed or bothered in some way by the nitwits who read your blog drivel. Then I’d have to sue you for exclamation of character.”

“I wouldn’t use your actual room number.”

“No!! Out of the question.”

“Now Joel, just because your pantyhose are in a wad does not mean that you can insult the vast millions of good people who read my blog devotedly. What did you do to get so cranky?”

“I don’t want to tell you.”

“I see. Do you want me to guess out loud? Three, two, one. Okay, Uh hum: DID YOU GET BEATEN UP AT THE DRAG QUEEN CLUB AGAIN?”

“Shhhhh, stop it! For goodness sakes!! I have a reputation to uphold. If you must know, I hit myself while pulling up a stake in my yard this morning.”

“You hit yourself with a stake or were you trying to drive a stake through your heart to kill the zombie Dracula who sometimes rises in your chest when the moon is full?”

“No. It was a metal stake for surveying purposes. And it hurt.”

“That’s a lot of self loathing.”

“It was an accident, a clumsy and unfortunate mistake.”

“So now you want to turn your disfiguring physical pain onto the helpless and shiftless who are littered around the urban landscape here?”

“You are referring obliquely to yourself?”

“Yes, Jedi Knight.”

“Well, it does soothe me a bit and it’s too early to drink liquor.”

“Hmmm, liquor has the same impact as expressed anger. Do you think alcoholics are merely folks stuck in anger mismanagement then?”

“Possibly.”

“I find chess to be a nice way to sublimate my antisocial tendencies. I go to war with 16 plastic pieces on 64 squares and no one gets hurt. Except sometimes I get carried away with a checkmate and hit myself in the face with the very stake upon which I wish to impale my opponent’s king.”

“Well, that’s all very good for you, but I don’t play chess. It’s too cerebral. I could hemorrhage.”

“I know. You like a good glass of brandy, gooey cheese, the cat on your lap, and your sousaphone on your shoulder farting out “When The Saints Come Marching In”.

“Yes, at the end of a long, productive day I find comfort in that setting.”

“Studly Do Right.”

“Are you mocking me?”

” No, I have been mocking you for ten minutes now. Mock, yeah, Bird, Yeah. Mockingbird, hey everybody have your heard…”

“Andrea, I need your assistance. This undesirable lunatic is mocking me.”

Andrea, “Joel, he’s your friend.”

“No he isn’t. He’s a coffee shop stalker. A blog terrorist.”

Andrea, “You came in with him and I understood you took a cute cupcake picture with him. Becky told me.”

“Oh dear, please don’t post that on the internet. I have a reputa….”

“Shun to uphold, we know, we know. Just one thing, Joel.”

“What?!!”

“Don’t yell at me, cupcake.”

“Don’t call me cupcake!!”

“Look, I think all this living out of a motel is killing you, man. You need to get off the road or you’re gonna wind up like Willie Nelson– stoned, cold broke and hotly in debt to the IRS.”

“What I need is for you to leave. Don’t you have anything to do today?”

“Community service hours, Buddy. I got that TUI last month, remember?”

“Oh Lord, forgive me. What is a TUI?”

“Texting under the influence, of course. I was walking and texting when I ran into a blind man walking his dog. We tumbled. His dog’s leash got wrapped around a baby stroller somehow and away they ran, the dog, the baby in the stroller, and the pregnant mother. It was not a pretty sight.”

“And the blind guy?”

“He didn’t see a thing.”

“Andrea, for God’s sake, do something!! I beg you.”

“I’m sorry, Joel. He is in the top five of our customer rankings.”

“Well, I can get my monkey bread delivered on Fridays.”

“Joel, you’ve got to stop beating yourself up.”

“Aaaahhh” Joel exits trying to unhear the recent world weary words he just heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

315. Waiting for Mohammed

It may seem strange to have a chess partner who is a young Libyan man in Turtle Town, but that’s what the deal is.  Mohammed hangs out at the coffee shop most afternoons. His mother functions as a cross between a social worker and pied piper for the lost ones who congregate around the town square. She is passionately kind to the disenfranchised and very sweet to her son, Mohammed.  I have no idea what their back story is, how they came from London to the U.S. No idea. I do know tenderness when I see it, though.

Anyway, I often wait for Mohammed to show up so that we can get in as many games as possible. We don’t talk that much, though he told me he is a poet. We thank each other at the end of every game– win, lose, or stalemate. Smiles and a handshake. “Good game.” “That was fun.” I tend to mutter Marvin Gaye lyrics while I play… “only three things for sure– taxes, death and Trouble.  Trouble man.”

He says some odd things at times.  A while ago he asked for free advice. (He knows I provide therapy.)  “My advice to you is not to ask for free advice.”

“Oh.”

Lately he said, “I am wondering if God exists. Check.”

I said, “Good, keep wondering. It’s a critical question to answer. Uncheck, you booger.”

“Why do you say that? Do you believe in God?”

“Yes, I do, but whether you do or do not believe, your answer will form a core belief and inform you about your purpose and meaning in life. Check.”

“What does that mean? Not the check, I follow that.”

“Well, have you ever seen a house being built from start to finish?”

“Sure.”

“So one day there is an empty plot of ground and someone starts dreaming and designing a lovely structure that will fit superbly on this spot. A surveyor stakes out the foundation one day and sets the corners. A while later a backhoe operator digs the footers for concrete. Eventually you get a detailed structure. Check.”

“I don’t get it. What does a house have to do with God’s existence? Uncheck.”

“Well, it’s an analogy to building a faith system. Once you break ground, (in your case it’s deciding if God exists) you begin building a structure of beliefs that connect to one another.”

“And what if I decide God does not exist? Check.”

“You still build a structure, a belief system around that core belief.”

“Oh, I thought belief systems were religions.”

“Religions are belief systems, but so are paths in science and political systems. Communism and socialism and fascism are all political belief systems that are not religions. In fact, they often outlaw religion or restrict it severely. Uncheck.”

“Hmmm. Gaddafi was religious, but he was also a total dictator.”

“Yeah, he was sort of a mutant combination of being the tribal chief, president for life, thug godfather, and well, let’s see what Hollowverse says….

“Gaddafi was quite taken with the principle of democracy. To him, multi-party, representational democracy was not truly democratic–nor was a dictatorship, though he was widely considered a dictator. And perhaps he was, but regardless, only three years after Gaddafi orchestrated a bloodless coup in Libya, he stepped down as Premier of the Libyan government, re-titling himself “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” and instituting a complex series of self-governing citizen bodies with titles like “The People’s Committees” and the “General People’s Congress.”

“Yeah, that’s a delusional belief system. ”

“He was a very bad man for a very long time. Check.”

“Yep. I wonder if he believed in God? or if he thought he was God?”

“The thing about God that stops me from believing is the evil in the world. All these innocent people who are abused and killed. Where is God for them?”

“That’s an old complaint lodged against the idea of a good, loving, all powerful God. Why would He allow evil to flourish? Uncheck.”

“So evil makes me not want to believe in God.”

“Uh huh. That’s evil’s job, though, to eliminate hope and belief in a better world. Evil destroys and pollutes and desecrates. Like Gaddafi. Because he caused so much evil, does that mean that good does not exist? God, on the other hand, if you believe in Him, originates, creates, purifies, redeems, saves. He heals what evil perpetrates. Mate.”

“I don’t think I believe that. Not the checkmate. I get that.”

“So how do you explain beauty and the order of nature? Do you think it’s all the random outcome of a bunch of random stuff? And when you see extraordinary kindness like your mother shows, how do you explain that? Did compassion for one’s fellow man just evolve out of a mud puddle like pollywogs?”

“I don’t know what are pollywogs?”

“They are evolving frogs, uh, tadpoles. It’s a stage between the frog egg and the mature frog. Actually… like you, Mohammed. You are evolving into your final adult form. Seeking the answer to whether God exists or not is part of your spiritual/intellectual growth.”

“You think so?”

“Sure. I remember reading that every thinking person must answer three questions. 1. Where did I come from?  2. Where do I go after I die?  3. What should I do between those two points?”

“I can’t answer those questions yet.”

“That’s okay, Tadpole. Did anyone every tell you that you look like Chico Marx?”

“No, who was that?”

“Groucho Marx’s older brother. Have you ever seen a Marx Brothers movie?”

“No.”

“You’re probably better off without the Marx Brothers experience.  Let’s just say they were some crazy comic brothers back in the day.”

“Do you think they believed in God?”

“Yeah, I do… at least they had to believe in miracles because their movies were incredibly stupid, and yet they made a good living from being silly.”

“Maybe I could do that too.”

“Mohammed, stand up comedy and you… I’m not seeing it.”

“No, here is a keeler joke:  How many Tunisians does it take to change light bulb?”

“You got me. How many?”

“Whole country.”

“Where’s the punch line, Mohammed?”

“Don’t you remember Arab Spring?  The Tunisians changed leaders like old light bulb.”

“Oh, yeah. Keeler, man. Let’s stick with theology.”

“But why?”

“Cuz you’re killin’ me.”

 

 

295. Reality Testing

The doctor asked the 80 year old man with a split skull what day it was, what his name was, where he was. The patient managed a few words but fumbled the date and who was president on a follow up question. In the medical and behavioral health business this is called reality  testing. It seems pretty clear in a medical sense when a neurosurgeon is probing an old man with a head cracked open like a  pistachio. But there are many other types of reality testing.

At the coffee shop recently, okay, TODAY, I was enlisted for my off the wall opinion on the current status of the Awkward Aardvark Café  where I javanate daily.

“Burrito, what do you think of the homeless shelter atmosphere that has developed here over the past few years?”

“You mean the living DSM V museum of mental disorders and coffee? Nice hat and shades, by the way. Is that a fake beard?”

“Yeah, that. Focus!!”

“Well, if you added some washers and dryers in the back room, that would complete the design of a small town, dirty sock hors d’oeuvres ministry on a cracker budget. Then, if we installed pull down Murphy beds along the north wall, we could squeeze in about 20 folks per night.”

“But we are still a business not a charity.”

“What would Jesus do?”

“He didn’t run a coffee shop!”

“C’mon Andrea! I’m sure at the carpenter shop there were loungers on his chairs and benches. He probably had stragglers and loiterers, even litterbugs doing jitterbugs. 21st century America did not invent the slacker. I’m sure he had to whack someone or just give them a hard Galilean stare every now and then. I’ll bet he had a no smoking sign posted above his sawdust piles.”

“Tobacco hadn’t been discovered back then, Mr. Anachronism. And the jitterbug comes from the Roaring 20’s. But customers are complaining now, the paying customers who fund this shop’s business. And some other business owners are complaining that our slackers are creating an unsavory environment outside on the square. They want to speak to the manager, which is why I am wearing this disguise.”

“Yes, but why go all Nazi on these folks? They are still human beings, right? They are our slackers. I mean there is Brenda the bread lady, and Lola the sticker picker, and Shelly the director of the United Nation of human ruminations.”

“It’s not them. We all like them. They are sweet in their own odiferous ways.”

“So, it’s Dudley?”

“No. Everyone likes him. He’s harmless and follows all the rules. He smokes across the street not at the outdoor tables.  And then he sweeps up others’ debris.”

“So it’s me, isn’t it?  This whole  ‘let’s talk’ thing was just a ploy to get me to confess, wasn’t it? Then I’m supposed to have a glimmer of insight and change for the better on my own, but I’m…”

“Stop! No, it’s not you. I’m seeking ideas from you. I’m desperate.”

“Wow, you must be floundering like a… flounder on the desert floor, floundering in a red hot iron skillet, popping with olive oil and pumpkin seeds to consult me. Let’s see, I can propose a committee to study this and then issue a report for a subcommittee to study and then make a proposal at a later time to the full house. Then, there’s the funding question. How’s that?”

“Not helping.”

“Okay, if the actual measurable offenses come from only two slightly creepy old guys, why not tell them as soon as they say or do something inappropriate? Then you don’t have to ride herd over the whole of humanity, picking winners and losers, the haves and the have nots. This is starting to sound like Marxism.”

“Like how?”

“Well, when X says something… say, Mr. X! That is inappropriate. If it continues, you’ll have to leave.”

“That’s harsh. Could you say it for us?”

“Let me see if I’m hearing you right– you want me to come up with the solution and the enforcement of said solution?”

“Yep. We’re scared to push, you know, be too bold. We’re young girls. Defenseless. Weak. You are old and don’t have long anyway. Most days you fail your daily reality test. Can’t you be the coffee shop cop?”

“No, you just don’t know what you don’t know. Let me share a bit of self defense wisdom that I learned while getting my hair cut an hour ago. The best in-house defense you can use against an intruder is Bee and Wasp spray. If you keep  a couple of cans open and at the ready, you can hit a man in the eye at twenty nine feet, essentially covering the entire coffee shop. Brilliant, eh?”

“You’re serious, aren’t you? Wasp Away. Hornet Hit Man. Bumblebee Tumble.”

“Sober as a gun slinging hairdresser, Sweety. And I don’t mean a blow dryer.”

“What if we miss and hit the wrong person or poison a muffin? Hit a baby in a stroller?”

“Collateral damage, Ma’am. The cost of urban warfare.”

“You are no help, really. We’re trying to find a way off this spider web and you are smearing honey on it.”

“Andrea, your metaphor is a bit obtuse, but I think you have hit the bull’s eye.”

“What?  I don’t follow.”

“The coffee shop is the web. Some critters come for the honey, i.e., the coffee, which is good, right? Some come for inappropriate reasons, to meet deep psychopathic emotional needs. Those are the guys you spray. It’s aversion therapy for free. You’ll see. Folks will applaud after you have cleaned up the town. You’ll be the new marshal in town. Just trust me on this one.”

“Well, will you spray the first offender? I mean, there’s the liability, the police, the drama.”

“Andrea, that’s why we have Joel on retainer. He knows how to handle the legally insane. He is a member of the Coffee Summit, for goodness sakes.”

“Thanks, Burrito. When I doubt myself, I think of you and feel so much saner.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

287. Accolades from Coffee Nation, inquire within

Provisional Coffee Nation marketing quotes…

The Nation: making useless men uselesser since 2009.

The Summit: Where small men talk big and loud in order to compensate for their inadequacies.

The Supreme Bean Nation: Why settle for efficiency when you can upgrade to deficiency?

Coffee Nation: Where a disturbed nerd can be… well, a disturbed nerd.

Work is the curse; we are the cure– Coffee Nation.

Productivity– it’s not for everyone. Join the Nation.

When jobs are outlawed, only outlaws will have jobs. Why wait? Join the Nation of the Bean.

Our purpose is purposelessness. CSN.

Bold like the beans we roast. CSN.

W-O-R-K, the original four letter word. CSN.

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These slogans are intentionally mediocre since we only have room for six guys at the Summit table, the rectangular Round Table of Perfidy. However, since Gene was kidnapped by his prospective bride in January and is presumably being held in suspended animation until the nuptials are benubious, and because Pastor Kyle is moving to Detroit (Detroit!!), there are two semi-permanent seats open at the coveted coffee table of peerlessness. Should you pass the stringent interview process, here is what to expect.

Growaset! this was Steve’s word for the day. He likes to throw his chest out and seek pain like a peacock in mating season. If you shy away from being tazed or hit by lightning (two lifelong desires of his that could also end his life), Steve barks, “Oh Growaset!” No one takes him all that seriously despite his position of sergeant at arms, legs  and elbows of the Nation table.

“Do you need a pair?”

“A pair of Percoset?”

“Isn’t that a grass fertilizer? Controls crabgrass I think.”

“Grabass? Who said that? Don’t touch me.”

“Stop! In the name of Love, before I break a fart.”

“Doug, this is a No Hand Dancing Zone. Stop it now.”

“Rob, what’s new with you?”

“I started riding my bike.”

“The unicycle, tricycle, your Big Wheel…”

“Uh, bicycle, please. Trying to get into shape. You know bikini season is coming up.”

“Please, the image of you in a bikini on a ten speed is truly disturbing. My gag reflex is going off. Ahhgggh ahhhgggh.”

“Medic! Medic. I need a tankini and a martini at table one. Stat!”

“No, you need a mental image eraser like Men in Black, the thingy jigger mind cleaner.”

“Oh yeah. Without it I would have  to gouge out my eyes.”

“Both of them?”

“Yeah, Rob. You can’t unsee that pale white bikini flasher biker dude skin.”

“Switch. Oh, look who’s here.”

“Well, DJ himself. Farfugnoodle to you.”

“Farfugnoodle to you too.” Handshakes all around except for the Supreme Imam who insists on hand sanitizer.

“So how many Republican candidates does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Apparently a dozen. One to hold the bulb and eleven to kill each other off in the primaries. Did you see Carly Fiorina jumped in?”

“Well H. my P!”

“No abbreviations are permitted at the Summit Nation, thou perfidious knight.”

“How about Trump? Did he toss his toupee into the ring yet?”

“Only to say he’s going to interview vice presidential candidates on the Apprentice, Wednesday nights at 8 eastern.”

“Oh my gosh, what about the other fight. Mayweather and Paquiao?”

“I heard it was a sleeper. Glad I didn’t spend $100 to watch it.”

“Scamacious if you ask me.”

“And deflategate may cost Brady a game suspension. Maybe the Steelers will win that opening day game.”

“Isn’t that ironic, the first game for Brady after the Super Bowl and he’s suspended? Talk about integrity.”

“Yeah, next time he should snort coke and leave the footballs alone. Protect the integrity of the game.”

“He needs to grow a set!”

“Steve, enough.”

“Sir Lancelate has been recognized at the rectangular round table.”

“Yes, thank you. As you already know, I am a template of fine haberdashery and…”

“Shut up and get to your point!”

“You ever notice how a lot of inventions are the result of warfare? Airplanes, canned food, radar, nuclear power. Leonardo Da Vinci had these elaborate drawings of submarines and flying machines.”

“Yeah. Did you know that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was originally a cannon barrel?”

“No way!”

“Oh yeah, only the turret had not been invented yet so it could only shell the same neighborhood in Lombardy.”

“That’s ridiculous blasphemy and very funny.” (Kyle)

“I know. Only later was it opened for tourists after a spiral staircase was inserted. You should think about that in Detroit, Kyle. You know, tow an old barge onto your church grounds and charge admission to the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It’s a sure money maker.”

“That’s a bit tawdry.”

“Oh, now you’re gonna have standards.”

“Okay, change of topic– child actor burnouts for 50, Alex.”

“Macauley Culkin. Hall of Fame. Definitely.”

“The Olsen twins.”

“Doogie Howser.”

“That’s not his real name. It’s Neil Patrick Harris.”

Image result for doogie howser pictures

“He seems to have turned out well. He’s selling Heineken and not riding his ten speed in a Speedo.”

“Unfair!! That category was explored and discarded, Alex. Unless it’s the Daily Double we’re going to have to move on.”

“Good bye Jodi Foster, Opey, Leonardo De Caprio.”

“They aren’t burnouts.”

“Picky, picky.”

“Growaset!!”

“Steve, three Growasets and you are out, okay? It’s a rule on Jeopardy.”

“What are you gonna do if I say it again? Taze me?”

“No, you’d like that. I’ll call Alexandra Steele and tell her you are married.”

“You wouldn’t!!!”

Lance, “Gentlemen, please. A bit of poetry to soothe your torrid bestial minds.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”

All, “Well done. Do you do funerals and grocery store openings?”

Steve, “I have one…

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

“That was just thoooper with all the thee’s and thou’s.  Thoooper.”

Rob?  “Okay, Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I’m a schizophrenic,
And so am I.”

“Nice modern twist to that, Rob. Super.”

Doug?

“Ahem, One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight,
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other,

One was blind and the other couldn’t, see
So they chose a dummy for a referee.
A blind man went to see fair play,
A dumb man went to shout “hooray!”

A paralysed donkey passing by,
Kicked the blind man in the eye,
Knocked him through a nine inch wall,
Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,

A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came to arrest the two dead boys,
If you don’t believe this story’s true,
Ask the blind man he saw it too! Amen.”

“And you, Coffee Sultan. Have you a rhyme for us?”

“Certainly:  Here’s to you and here’s to me.

May we never disagree

If we do,

Here’s to me.”

“Lovely, lovely. We will serve no yogurt before it’s time.”

“Culture… my people, culture.”

“That’s bacteria, man.”

Image result for bacteria pictures No, that’s coffee nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

285. The Lyin’ King

“Shall we speak of your past, Andrea?” I began with only  two other bean patrons in the quiet shop of coffee.

“If the Lion King taught me anything it’s that you can’t change the past,” said Andrea from the other side of  the counter as she counted out my ten used cup sleeves that entitled me to a free cup today.

“So harsh. You are referring to the Disney cartoon movie here?” I asked

“Is there any other?” she followed.

“Well, of course, my child. Of course there is and of course you can change the past. It’s simple. The past is actually quite malleable.”

She chuckled and lightly snorted into her shirt collar. “Oh here we go.”

“Did you know that there used to be public bathrooms under the street by the courthouse? Visitors from the big city thought we had a subway in Turtle Town.”

“No, not sure I can believe you. I’m from Needmore, remember?”

“Yes, I am so sorry. But after the Berlin Wall came down and détente began, your people were rejoined with the rest of the free world, yes?”

“Yes, we have a small stone wall in Needmore that commemorates the liberation.”

“Good to know, and the wall keeps the cows off of Route 522, I imagine. Yes, practical bunch out there. But there really were subterranean bathrooms with decorative green metal stairways descending to them. Do you have a small piece of paper?”

“Here you go.”

She produced a small block of white paper with a logo for cleaning supplies in navy blue ink. I miss nothing. No detail is too superfluous to record. I wrote in block letters, ‘The Lion King”… be true to yourself.’ Beneath it I wrote, ‘The Lyin’ King…of course you can change the past.’ Then I proceeded to share with her how I had led the Redskins to Super Bowl 17 victory in 1983, the strike shortened season as the quarterback.

“I didn’t know that.”

“A lot of folks don’t. Here’s a favorite  picture of me throwing the winning touchdown.”

Image result for super bowl 17 pictures

“And so you are free to spin your yarns, and these stories are just far enough away that they are hard to prove at any given moment.”

“Exactly. You sprinkle just enough facts and details into a story to give it verisimilitude, or the appearance of truth. You see, I respect the truth greatly, so much so that I imitate it freely at any given moment.”

“I know, and you confuse the crapola out of me.”

“Andrea! There is no need for such Mufasa here! Think of the little lions. Where is thy pride, girl? Think of poor Nala. You need to romp on back to Needmore and reclaim your glory.”

I was met with the stern schoolmarm look over her octagonal glasses with a wisp of her tucked maple pony tail bobbing behind her head like a ticked off pigeon.

“I think you’re losing focus here, creeping into that three per cent of fantasy that you are known to indulge on occasion.”

“I prefer to call it the Airless Summit of Mount Truth. Most folks operate near sea level or up to 9,000 feet above it, where oxygen is plentiful. Some brave souls venture higher, into the next 9,000 feet, where the air is quite thin and life is tenuous. Sherpas, mountain sheep and condors are the only forms of life at that altitude. And then there are the rare ones like me who start their journey at 18,000 feet and trek fearlessly upward through the unsustainable atmosphere known as the Death Zone.”

“You are so dramatic. I can’t believe anything you say.”

“Here come the bankers. I suppose they speak the truth relentlessly.”

“Well, they’re a bit more predictable than you.”

Teresa, “Are we interrupting something important?”

Andre, ” No, it’s more like rescuing me from a bad movie.”

Me, “Uhum. I was just sharing the daily wisdom with Andrea regarding the Lyin’ King.”

Teresa, “The Disney movie?”

Me, “The sequel, actually.” L-Y-I-N apostrophe KING. Not that bankers ever lie.”

Teresa, “Oh, every day. We’d be out of business if we told the truth.”

Cody, “Are we gonna get some coffee?”

Andrea, “Sure, what would you like?”

Cody, “Medium regular.”

Teresa, “Small. Guess I missed the hazelnut on Monday, huh?”

Andrea, “Yeah, sorry. You didn’t come in.”

Teresa, “I was stuck in a conference all day long. What a waste!!” Then turning to me, “Are you going to the ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ parade this Friday, Burrito?”

Me, “Uh, my chiropractor won’t allow it. Too hard on my glutes.”

Cody, “I’m walking in heels, got fishnet stockings to go with them.”

Me, “I would only do that if I were in prison and Bubba told me to walk this way. I mean, it seems either prison creepy or like a Lou Reed song.”

Teresa, “Who’s Lou Reed?”

Me, “He played third base for the Yankees in the 1960’s. Switch hitter. Utility infielder mostly. Later on  he wrote songs of desperation, drugs and alternative lifestyles.”

Cody, “Didn’t he write ‘Walk on the Wild Side’?”

Me, “Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. The man in the red high heels and black fishnet stockings and Brooks Brothers navy blue blazer ensemble.”

Cody, “Whatever Bubba wants, Bubba gets.”

Teresa, “Wasn’t that in Damn Yankees, only it was Lola?”

Me, “That’s a Kinks song you’re referencing now, but it’s in the same transvestic neighborhood.”

Andrea, “Oh, Lord help me. Though I work in the shadow of the espresso machine, I will fear no evil customer. ”

Me, “Here, let me get the door for you.”

Cody/Teresa, “Thanks, Bubba.”

Me, “It’s Simba to you.”

Andrea, “Noooooooooooo!!!!”

They hung a sign up in our town
“if you live it up, you won’t
live it down”
So, she left Monte Rio, son
Just like a bullet leaves a gun
With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips
She went and took that California trip
Well, the moon was gold, her
Hair like wind
She said don’t look back just
Come on Jim
(Chorus)
Oh you got to
Hold on, Hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
You gotta hold on

Well, he gave her a dimestore watch
And a ring made from a spoon
Everyone is looking for someone to blame
But you share my bed, you share my name
Well, go ahead and call the cops
You don’t meet nice girls in coffee shops
She said baby, I still love you
Sometimes there’s nothin left to do

Oh you got to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here, you got to
Just hold on.

Well, God bless your crooked little heart St. Louis got the best of me
I miss your broken-china voice
How I wish you were still here with me

Well, you build it up, you wreck it down
You burn your mansion to the ground
When there’s nothing left to keep you here, when
You’re falling behind in this
Big blue world

Oh you go to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
You got to hold on

Down by the Riverside motel,
It’s 10 below and falling
By a 99 cent store she closed her eyes
And started swaying
But it’s so hard to dance that way
When it’s cold and there’s no music
Well your old hometown is so far away
But, inside your head there’s a record
That’s playing, a song called

Hold on, hold on
You really got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
And just hold on.                                           Tom Waits, “Hold On”

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And so, You Honorable Blogitnesses, I  submit that verisimilitude is art by another name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

240. Time is short

No time for silliness, my silly blogwillies. Get that smirk off your face and stand up straight! It’s time for sober realism. Or somber surrealism. Pick one.  It’s the end of the world as we know it…. We could say this every day, dontcha think? We do say it every day… on the news anyway. “It’s the worst case of the dreaded Ebola virus since the last one. Epidemic Domestic Violence. HIV/ AIDS. Anthrax. Epic Abuse. WMD. Chemical weapons. WWJD? Catastrophic. WWTMW. Expialadocious.” And that’s just the sports section.

 

“Oh my furry whiskers, I’m late. I’m LATE!!”

So, in order to save time and live expeditiously, we began planning our funerals at coffee summit nation this morning. Steve volunteered way too much information about his post-life needs. He expressed his wishes that the nation would function as his pallbearers, providing there were six of us, sober, and at least four capable of weight bearing loads. Dustin has a bad back but was assigned side, left duty between two taller members in good  standing. He can still call cadence without actually supporting any of Steve’s corpse’s weight, unless Steve consents to post mortem mummification. As in life, so too in death.

Steve asked that I would give the eulogy if I did not precede him in death. I am considering preceding him just to get out of that gig. What would I say, ” Steve liked pain. Amen.” Further, he requested that the pallbearers wear black suits with white shirts and black ties and dark sunglasses like Men in Black or the Blues Brothers, depending on our collective mood– high tech or old school blues. Furthermore, which is more than further, he wants Taylor Dayne’s greatest hits played at his funeral. He said his widow Robin will understand and appreciate this 1980’s touch. Well, in my journalistic effort to document her greatest hits, I found that Taylor’s real name is Leslie Wunderman. Okay? Uh, I was crushed almost as thoroughly as when I learned John Wayne’s real name was Marion Morrison. And John Lennon’s real name was John Lennon. Do you see a drift toward crisp, one syllable Nordic stage names here? But never mind; we have no time to waste. Steve is aging and we must plan his memorial. Fortunately we still have him presently carrying on across the table this dreary morning about needing to go to Vegas and be tazed. “Wouldn’t that be fun?”

“And so, let us remember him in death as we did in life. Steve liked pain, NASCAR wrecks, Taylor Dayne, lots of napkins and mindless violence. Amen. Please lower the carcass now before the shedding of the tear gas. Thank you all for coming. There will be a reception at the coffee shop following Steve’s internment, if his name really was Steve and not Rod Blogoyavich or Petroff Nogoodnovich.”

Meanwhile Gene brought his class picture from 1965 to the table for our inspection and to see if we could accurately pick him out of the black and white line up. Only the newest provisional member, David, was correct. Which means that, counter-intuitively, the longer you have known someone, the less likely you are to be able to pick him out of a childhood photo line up, thus proving once again that eye witness testimony is shady at best.

To test our theory we had Gene commit a simple crime in full view of pedestrians and commuters and then hang around for identification. He kicked the glass out of the Gypsie gift emporium door and then sat back down. Ten minutes later the Turtle Town police showed up. When they asked us if we’d seen who did it, we identified Gene and his younger version in the old class photo. The cops arrested him, thanked us and hauled him away as he tried to con his way out of it with “it was an, an, an, experiment, officer.” I hope he gets out in time for Steve’s funeral. I don’t want to carry all that dead weight alone, mummy or no mummy. I think it’s odd carrying corpses around, unless you are in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

It’s unfortunate, indeed, that life is so short that we must occasionally throw one another under the troika, as they say in Russia. But we can’t be wasting time. No sirree. However, as I consider this profound thought, it brings the entire Coffee Summit Nation’s purpose into question. Our sole expressed and implied mission is to waste time, to avoid work, and to contribute next to nothing to the greater good. I guess that’s three missions tied tightly in our one-sided napkin constitution, thus the previous troika allusion. (The original magna napkina is getting harder to read after five years in my wallet.) If this mission statement is true, then something important needs to happen soon for the Nation to continue in its false sense of urgency. We must invade another table or challenge the banker contingent to a uselessness contest. You see, three snappily dressed, snarky bankers from an abbreviated bank (M&T) stroll down to the coffee shop every day whilst we are harmlessly wasting our time. They laugh and make comments about the Nation, but one day Boy oh Boy, we are gonna go off on them like espresso steam spigots. We may have to wait till Gene gets out of jail and Lance remembers what time we meet so our numbers are in our favor.
Steve may have to postpone his funeral and take one for the team until we re-establish hegemony in the downtown community of nations. Oh, so little time and so many delusions.

230. Magical Mystery Tour

Okay, this post has nothing to do with the Beatles album of the same name, I just thought you might peek in if I baited you with art and then switched you into madness. I am currently under the influence of Pink Floyd and Cream at this very intense moment and my thoughts seem to be erupting slowly like methane bubbles rising out of the decaying detritus from the floor of an intellectual swamp and then popping onto this blank canvas you are reading. Visual flatulence… could be the name of a band from Toronto that never quite made it, like Spinal Tap. Anyway, at this morning’s Coffee Nation Summit things turned and twisted uglily (yes, I’m sayin’ that) as they normally do… five wet shower curtains in the wind on a drizzly day. Each very limited man put in his unlimited input, like PGA putters put in their putts or putzes, depending on your personal preference and people group. But put or putt or putz, no one was disputin’ Rasputin or Vladimir Putin due to Article I of the Nation’s Constipation:  no politics or religion will be broached or tolerated in Summit. Failure to comply will result in a slow, painful death by pun firing squad, which may take up to six months. [Most victims of the pun firing squad actually die of dehydration since they only drink coffee during the painful firing of the puns. They often beg for a quicker death near the end. It’s a cruel and inhumane way to die and must be carried out beyond the outer limits of the Geneva Convention in caves on the north beach of Aruba, aka Pun Island, where the pun is truly mightier than the sword.]

Joel our jovial attorney was in no hurry to get to work printing counterfeit money. He stayed quite a bit longer than normal. (I hesitate to use the word normal, since that has mental health implications that we cannot justify. We are abnormal putzes. If we had an alma mater, that would be our cheer: “We are… abnormal putzes. We are…”) He had shared his thimble of wisdom for the morning and invited us all to his summer tendonitis attorneyment. You’ve probably already guessed its name:  Thimbledon. It’s a fortnight of blindfolded barristers yelling legal citations back and forth over ankle high badminton nets followed by a round of icy mojitos on the  croquet lawn. Instead of golf carts they have summer interns push them around in wheelbarrows to avoid any possible DUI’s. This year’s theme is “Liability and Libation, A Study of Contrasts”. Most attendees will never forget last year’s rousing rendition of Pete Seeger’s “If I had a margarita, I’d hammer out justice, I’d hammer out freedom all over this land” by a young member of the local bar who chooses to remain anonymous. (It was Eddie Fickle, but you didn’t hear this from me.)

As Lance arrives, Joel says, “When I see you, I have to go.” The table reassured him that there are medications that can help with his random urinary urges. He did not protest as we offered various homeopathic remedies such as corn starch and fiber supplements to balance and help him control his aging bladder. My favorite suggestion was for him to sleep with a penny under his pillow each night to pay off the bladder fairy. With a sheepish grin he thanked us.

Big Steve regaled us with his pool maintenance tips and warned us of using outdated hoses on updated pumps. Someone could be violently hosed if the couplings did not get along. (There’s a Lady Gaga joke in their somewhere.)  And isn’t that a universal truth?  This was a natural segue into the topic of war. D.J. shared his near death experience in Iraq when a nursing mother attacked him with a squirting breast. His soldier buddy collapsed at the absurdity of it all, laughing himself into a helpless state as D.J. had a tense standoff with the milk bomber. Later he wrote it up as an encounter with an IEBD, Improvised Explosive Breast Device. “She was deadly accurate with that thing. I mean it, man. I was ready  to shoot back!” Imagine his PTSD flashbacks and nightmares. Huge zeppelins spraying laser streams of 2 % milk on him as he fights against his high count Egyptian cotton sheets and shudders, “Don’t milk taze me, bro!” It’s not funny. A simple trigger of a pool pump could throw a man back into his struggle for life in a godforsaken land of booby traps… something his recruiter completely failed to inform him about. Maybe one of the Thimbledon lawyers will take his case and together they can push wheelbarrows filled with young interns around Aruba. “Mojitos for everyone.”

Meanwhile Gene sits like a disgruntled Buddha with hemorrhoids who occasionally shouts, “Shut your face!” He gives his shots at the Nation, knowing that when he leaves he’ll be subservient to Lance’s razor at the barber shop tomorrow. ” N-N-Not to be smart, but I can’t argue with a man who’s got a razor at m-m-my neck.” He’s as meek outside of the coffee shop as he is cantankerous inside it. The Nation functions as a catalyzing poop magnet for Gene, keeping him emotionally regular from week to week.  Lance sat across from Gene and was not content until he got a blast, “Shut your pie hole, you!” This outburst led to bent over contortions of laughing.

And that leaves me. The nice thing about being a blogger or the Dictator for Life of Coffee Nation Summit is that you answer to no one except your wife. So I am under no legal or moral obligation to say what I did or did not contribute to the group… unless my wife jacks me up and makes me confess. Anyway, I remember others’ silliness far better than mine. So let it be written. Let it be sung.              The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away. Dying to take you away, take you today.

 

 

214. Coffee Nation Noodles

I like the serendipity of my life. This  morning I could not remember where my scheduled  counselor meeting was supposed to be, so I wound up unscheduled at the coffee shop on Dustin’s birthday, a provisional nonvoting member of coffee nation. I did not know this little piece of info since I was not current with Facebook at that moment. I just ordered my medium coffee and was walking toward the door when Big Bald Vinnie came walking in. We greeted one another and I started to explain that we weren’t meeting since it was the second Thursday of the month.

“Well, Steve and Gene said they were coming.”

“Oh, an unofficial meeting of the nation.” I suspected a coup brewing in insulated coffee cups. “I’ll stick around.”

Vinnie and I chatted about his family and the end of his Great Dane puppy experiment.  “My wife didn’t see that coming. And we don’t even have papers on the dog.”

“I’m not following you. Would it be better to have a defective Great Dane puppy with papers?”

“No, I guess not.”

“There’s the fence and the toys and the food and the vet bills and the…I could have sent a kid to a semester of college with what we spent on the dog.”

“Well, your marriage is better than ever. So you have that.”

“True… could take another cruise with the wife for what I have in that dog.”

Ronnie from Jersey strutted in. Greetings. He joined us at the impromptu gathering. Vince was on his way to work in Hershey, PA but had time to burn with us. Ronnie is recovering from surgery and a life of construction work.

“Yeah, I’m from Jersey. Ya know, it seems like there’s a lot more murders around here lately,” said Ronnie.

“I’ve noticed that since you moved here, Ronnie. Are the landfills full of bodies in Jersey?” I added in.

“No, well, the Mafia has reserved lots for future appointments, ya know, like pre paid burial vaults.”

“Good to know.”

We got on to the usual nothing talk that marks a group of guys who are comfortable with one another. Historic storms, the Jersey Shore, shootings, and noisy Harleys. Before we even paused to look up, Big Steve rolled in sporting his new 5–0 look. He was without Gene but confirmed that it was Dustin’s birthday and that the young man of 38 would soon be joining us.

Steve has a unique mind. Somehow we got on to field sobriety tests and Steve amazed us by reciting the alphabet backwards while also turning around to face the wall. It was a double reverse verbal gainer. The Judges gave him 9.4, 9.6 and an 8.1 from the Jersey judge who was envious, I think, of this uncanny skill. Steve also drinks frozen mochas which will freeze mammal brains; however, since I believe he has a reptile’s brain, he drank deeply without even a hint of a brain freeze. Over this mysterious brain is an ear muff hair style with a wide landing strip down the middle. But sitting across from Razor Bald Vinnie, Steve looked like Bon Jovi. (This is a bone for the Jersey Judge in case there is a round 2 of amazing stupid human tricks later.)

As Ronnie doctored his hot coffee, the legendary Lance entered and nearly sat in Ronnie’s just vacated seat. However, being the king of pilates, he moved as if on a hinge and did not touch butt to chair. Instead he dragged over an ownerless chair to our shrinking round table. Introductions were made all around for Sir Ronnie’s sake, who is not usually at the Round Table. The skillet of wit was now hot and sizzling since Lance is both a barbershop raconteur and a template of fashionable haberdashery, according to him.

Critical mass was achieved and the jokes, tricks, references and silly words came often and easily. In a group of five guys it is possible to have three or four concurrent inconsequential conversations, which we did.

The topics were interwoven…

“And what’s with you?”

“Which U? Miami? The U?”

“No.”

“Oh, you mean U-Conn? Yeah amazing, men and women’s national champs…”

“Like Wooden”

“You mean the coach, Gino…”

“Nine titles.”

“Well Bill had a reference from him…”

“Who?”

“Wooden?”

“NO, Gino, the women’s coach.”

“Not good enough for our local high school, though.”

“No men’s retreat this year. Too much shaking up at church.”

“I’m appointing you, Vinnie, to investigate this.”

“What?”

“The retreat.”

“What’s my budget?”

“Just save all your receipts.”

“Did you say receipts or retreats?”

“Yes, save them. Like the whales.”

Dustin walked in and saluted us as is his habit as a former military member. Now it got dangerously goofy like an overheated nuclear reactor with too many loose electrons smashing into one another. The caffeine effect was sending verbal pulses across an eighteen inch round table at warp 9 speeds. An unidentified guy in a ball cap said hello to Steve.

“Who’s that?”

“Oh, you asked me too fast. Bob… uh.”

“You know, from church. His wife is that lady…”

“Oh yeah, they sit behind me.”

“Wasn’t their son, the guy who…”

“Uh huh, but he got fired for…”

“No, that’s not the same guy, you’re thinking of what’s his name.”

“With the big nose?”

“Yeah, Brian. His wife was the one who told me about setting up shop downtown.”

“Alright, I still have no idea. But it’s all good.”

Lance, “This reminds me of an episode of Cops where they’re busting a dude and he don’t know nothing. The cop says, ‘What are you doing?’ and the dude says, ‘Well, I was over there with them dudes but then what’s his name came along and they started into it and I got outta there when I seen you guys show up. And I don’t know nothing.'”

Dustin, “That’s just like a conversation at your barbershop, Lance.”

“That’s the truth.”

“Who?”

“What was that guy’s name, you know ‘the Truth’?”

“You know, the wrestler who was a governor?”

“Oh, Schwarzenegger…”

“No, he’s the one with his nanny and the wife on t.v. A Kennedy lady.”

“Ventura. Jesse, right?”

And those are the Real Lives of The Husbands of Franklin County.