18. The Cafe that I forgot the name of.
The first, most obvious and most weird thing about this cafe was that it had its head in the sand. And it was beautiful. Like real stinkin’ beautiful. It was a sanctuary or oasis in insane America. I don’t know if the owners were on drugs or what, but somehow this little slice of heaven hadn’t realised that the rest of the country was celebrating goblins and witches and worshipping pumpkins on this very weird day. I mean there were no pumpkins with stupid toothy smiles on the doorstep. There was not a ghost in sight, unless of course you counted the Holy Ghost and we can’t see him anyhow. As far as Halloween goes, I think someone in this place had managed to scare the hell out of there. Hmm interesting ar ne(65)?
So starting from the outside, let me describe the sanity of this sanctuary for you. Well once-upon-a-time I imagine that someone with the inane names of, let’s say, Bill and Martha, lived here. They painted it green and planted a chook-infested garden. Planting a garden in Texas means finding something with the power to photosynthesise and scraping the dust long enough to have a hole deep enough for it to stand upright then allowing it to look totally miserable whilst spending the rest of its life dying for drink. And speaking of dying for a drink, I think this is normal for Americans, however it may sound a little weird for you Lithuanians and whoever else holds a Lithuanian passport, but you couldn’t get a drink in this place. Nope, at least not of the alcoholic variety anyhow. This was a coffee shop.
Then along came the trendy-looking person behind the counter, who naturally enough had parked his F250 pick-up in the driveway. Yes, in Texas, trendy and pick-up truck actually fit in the same sentence. Then the pick-up trendite submitted to the authorities, swiped the stairs from the veranda and replaced it with a regulation wheel-chair ramp and seemingly forgot to paint it. He slapped a rather side-letting-down smallish Coke sign off to the right and allowed a notice board to metamorphosise beside the door. If I owned a cafe, I would have a huge notice board. And if I didn’t have anything to put on it I would invent stuff, like ‘School Fete, free art class and third hand agitator washing machine for sale’. Notice boards don’t say ‘Come to my cafe’, they say ‘We are here and this is our home’. They had a rather cool green and green framed ‘Open’ sign hanging from the balcony ceiling. Though rather Freudently in my photo on first glimpse it rather aptly read Opeit or Opiate. Perhaps you need to be dyslexic to see it, but I think it is a great and rather realistic sign to have in front of a coffee shop.
Anyhow suffering from the Opiate DTs(66) we entered the inner-court of this blissfully Halloweenless converted house. Perhaps it is because I am a spiritual being, that I notice such things but this place was oozing with thick gluggy light. Thick gluggy Holy Ghost kind of light. That kind of freshness of space that once again whispers to you that if you tripped on the carpet and started to fall flat on your face, that the presence of the future would absorb you and leave you upright with an un-spilt coffee. I felt so instantly free that I could have bought a de-cafe coffee… well perhaps I wouldn’t have gone that far but I did feel free enough to instantly kick off my jandals and slide them under the couch on which I had just dumped my empty shopping bag.
So, bare-foot I straddled up to the counter and got in line behind a talkative cowboy. In fact he was so talkative, that either this was just a simple case of a well mannered Texas or the juxtaposition of trendite and cowboy conversating, really did mean that they were life-long bossom buddies with radically different parents.
Unfortunately the first thing that I noticed upon encountering the counter were flasks, or for the sake of North American readers, thermos flasks. Even cutesville America can fall into the blatant plastic cup tackiness of middle America. Thermos in cool cafes only says to me that the stagnation and boringness of chains such as McDonald’s and Starbucks are at the heart of every American. Kind of like you can take the American out of McDonald’s, but you cannot take the McDonald’s out of an American. They had a cappuccino machine, well naturally they did, you would know if they didn’t, because my story would have read something like: I walked in, saw that the coffee sucked and walked out again. It darn near beat the caffeine out of me pondering why, stinkin’ why, why couldn’t they put the cappuccino machine on the counter and put the flasks on a separate table, or perhaps even behind the toilet or something. They seemed to have a lot of coffee flavourings as well. This is another bain in the existence of America. If you want a coffee, buy a coffee. If you want a flavoured drink, buy Fanta. Simple really. The beauty of coffee is that it is a multi-faceted beverage. It can be a long-slow-social-chewing-the-fat kind of drink. Or perhaps a deep-intimate-contemplative-solace beverage. Or it can be the perfectly-functional-pick-me-up-wake-me-up-get-me-going kind of drug. And the beauty of coffee is no matter what you do to it, in reality it looks ugly. Who in reality would drink a diluted black road tar? But that is how coffee looks. It is only through experiencing and tasting it, through familiarity that the ugliness becomes the beautiful and finally for some, becomes the addiction. Does any of this endorse or even suggest a need for poxy flavourings? I think not! Oh how I enjoy speaking from within the safety of my cultural pre-conceptions.
Anyhow one of the big bonuses of this corner of heaven was the fact that they sold baklava. I was given Syrian baklava for my birthday and have been searching for it ever since. And sweet, syrup-infested pistachio nuts surrounded by sticky pastry are just the perfect accompaniment for a solid cappuccino. The cowboy had exercised his Texan good manners and stepped aside to let us order, our dialogue with the trendite was short and extremely Texan friendly. We retreated with our quarry back to our corner couches, allowing the cowboy to jump straight back into the conversation.
This place still felt strangely like Bill and Martha’s home. There was a random chess set scattered across a table and a piano plastered with CDs and nasty looking boom-box. Coming from the box was jazz. Jazz and Kel are synonymous. I fumbled through a few of the magazines, a religious one, a cute book and at the bottom of the pile was a disregarded but thumbed Bible. The coffee was good in that soft American kind of way.
Well, the cowboy left and a little lady walked in carrying some freshly hatched chicks. She left them on a seat and started chatting to the barista and after a while he kindly suggested that, for the sake of the health department, perhaps the chicks should be taken out. Oddly enough I had a strong urge to dialogue with these people, something inside of me wanted to find out who these people were and what made them tick but I was too shy and instead decided to go to the toilet. On the way to the toilet I noted a presentation encouraging us to give money to a humanitarian aid project in some place like Africa but indeed I think it was an Eastern European country. Way cool, we are always happy to unload our dosh into such random and valuable causes. The toilet seemed to be an outside dunny. I obediently followed signs down a hallway wondering why Bill and Martha never installed an inside loo. Outside was a large patio set under large leafy trees in front of a green lawn and small creek. It was indeed a very pleasant place, but for me inside was much, much nicer. Walking up the hallway I noticed trendite sitting in a separate room, on a couch, feet up on a coffee table and a computer on his lap. This was not a stressful place. We paid up and Honda’ed home.
But it was a very good cafe and we returned a second time. And please, please keep reading, because as soon as I get internet access, I will let you know the name of the place.
Hang in there until next week to read about the Holy Virgin Pumpkin.
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You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!
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Ta (Kiwi for thank you)