Cafe Ole

Rummaging through bags of fan mail was met with inquisition as to why I spend an infinite amount of time in cafes:

It’s peaceful to sit adjacent to little kids who allow their parents to run their mouths amok as to how cute the kids are. I mean, did you notice how cute the kids are, or do you need your eyelids glued open to get a better look at mini Uggs that match mommy’s ignorance for taste?

I like to nestle next to the straw and napkin dispensers when sitting at the bar top. It affords the chance to smell the bodies and breath of locals. I also catch wind of any complaints about the consistency and amount of mayo as well as compliments paid to baristas who have come into their own in learning to make an espresso that is hot versus cold to lukewarm.

I’m socially awkward by nature, so naturally I gravitate toward places I can engage in small talk with beautiful girls who are fifteen to twenty years younger. It’s not that I feel like a lonely, washed-up, and middle-aged man-child who orders bacon, egg, and cheese 97.6% of the time… or is it.

Catching eyes with another man from across the room who appears unstable, disheveled, and off kilter is always a precious moment. I could conjure thoughts of living out my days as this man’s pet who lives in some undisclosed subterranean quarters, but it’s likely to be fine. He’s probably just here for the bacon, egg, and cheese too.

Doing work in a cafe makes me feel accomplished, as if I don’t need to be in a corner office wearing a power suit at 11:00 on a Monday morning. I’m successful enough to be sipping a medium sized coffee with a dash of whole milk with my flip-flops dangling from the stool footing.

I can be wicked and revel in the fact others receive erred or wrong orders . Not only does your allergy to tomatoes make you less of a man, Mr. Crocs with a tucked-in shirt, but you must endure my inner cackles of laughter as you stand there, waiting…hoping…for another sandwich sans tomatoes. Does this man’s lunchtime agony silence the inner demons slowly scratching away at the belly of my soul? No, but it sure helps and entertains me too.

All the noise at varying decibels helps me concentrate. I could plug along, writing whatever drivel is needed in a noiseless bliss, yet the cafe offers screaming baristas, beeping machines, whining patrons, and unruly kids. One day I will be burned to a crisp and sit on a mantle before placed in my eternal resting place along with a VHS tape of Back to the Future and a Cabbage Patch Kid in a humid, soundproof attic, and I will miss all the  noise.

Special Edition Synthetically Skinned Inflatable Old People

“When my dad died, a hole was left in my heart.  It’s kind of like when your handbag goes out of fashion.  My Range Rover was looking a lot less chic parked in front of the hydrant next to the salon.  But, now that I have my inflatable elder, things are looking chic street again.” ~ Rhonda

Have you recently lost an elder?  If so, there’s no doubt you’re reminded by the empty space occupying the passenger seat when en route to the local grocery and drugstore.

Image result for old person in car

Do you take the key out of the ignition when running in Starbucks because an aged and afraid grandmother is no longer there to occupy the car and void in time until you get back?  That time is over, my friend.

For a limited stretch of the imagination…we’re offering special edition synthetically skinned inflatable elders.

That’s right!!

“When I needed to go to Rite Aid, I felt awkward leaving my senile grandfather at the house alone chained to his chair.  So on our way to the store, I’d tell him we were picking up grandma, which is cruel since she is long passed away.  To be frankly perverse, I just liked seeing the momentary jollity turn to confusion upon the old man’s melted looking face.  Anyway, now I have an inflatable old man.  It’s custom fitted so I can put grandpa’s old clothes on it. It doesn’t have senile human emotions, but it looks real and keeps me company.” ~ Jimmy

Due to a rise in overall health, people are living and driving longer into their later years.  It’s not until a family member or close confidant seizes one’s license and independence that others are granted access to the vanity craze that is an old person seated in a parked running car.

According to this sentence, an old person dies every 14.5 seconds.  By the time you complete this paragraph, a few more loved ones will have lost the opportunity of having a momentary use for their eldest kin.  Your loved one is gone but you don’t have to lose the obscure purpose they served.

Our proprietary and revolutionary solution is:

  • Synthetic
  • Inflatable
  • Old person looking

Take a look around the Whole Foods parking lot.  What’s missing?  It’s not gay couples getting out of mini Coops or teens pushing carts while meeting weed dealers.

How many old people do you observe abandoned in cars?  Not enough…til now.

They come in all shapes, sizes, and slouches.  Act now to reserve your special edition inflatable synthetically skinned old person!

These Sweatpants Cannot Stand, Man

No grown man should be allowed to wear sweatpants in public, private, or in nightmares of the sane and reasonably fashionable.  There are other ways to ensure one will never have sex again – castration, moving back in with one’s parents, or death and subsequent cremation.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule yet the ones related to watching an adult male stroll around like a fluttering figment out of an 80’s Jagger-Bowie video are limited:

  • If you are Sylvester Stallone in Rocky I-III.
  • If you are stranded in subzero temperatures with nothing but your shrinkage and Richard Simmons’ luggage.
  • If you are more than 400 pounds and cannot proceed beyond the threshold leading out of your mother’s basement and have sworn off all future interactions outside of World of Warcraft.
  • If you had a sense of humor and asked you be buried in them via last will and testament.

Girl Scout Cookie Crooks

They look innocent enough.  They are small in stature and have high-pitched voices.  Some even have dimples and freckles for added effect.  However, there’s something crooked cooking underneath this puerile exterior of girlhood.

Like sirens of the sea, these brace-faced hustlers lure you in with a lull and then sink your wallet with a surefire smile.

My last encounter with these cookie crooks took place on Sunday, the holiest of days, yet the devil’s imps are lurking around every snicker-doodled corner within the minds of 9 year-old girls.

I had just finished buying groceries for the poor families in the neighborhood and about to help a blind man and his three-legged dog cross the street when I heard the heckling shrieks of three gorgons.

“Would you like to buy some cookies?”

I write this as a question as grammar and “would you” demands but it was sounded as a statement.  Actually, it was more of a sly demand based on the surrounding context.  As if I had a choice when I’m holding my wallet and copious supply of groceries.  I mean I had the means to service their demand.

Moreover, like sexually-charged bouncers, the girls’ overly attractive mothers were staring me straight in the eye, penetrating my superficial sensibilities.  I could deny their precious younger selves the satisfaction of giving up the cookies and walk away a shamed man with flaccidly empty hand flapping in the afternoon breeze, but we all knew better.

“Of course, I will,” I said aloud and continued to add “you fucking soulless thieving little rodents of suburban strip malls” as internal monologue.

I approached the table of goodies and abandoned all hope as the three prepubescent incarnations of Shylock were soon to take their pound of flesh from my dignity.  I endeavored composure as their stares turned my confidence to stone.

As if bankrupting me of my pride and free will was not enough, Satan’s brides presented me with a table full of opportunity to be robbed.  There were peanut butter patties, caramel de-lites, and mints thin like my chances of walking away with my sense of self worth.

I began to perspire under the blazing moments of silence.  One of the beauty queens doubling as a chaperoning mother blessed my ear with a regal tone.

“Oh, the chocolate popcorn is delicious.”

That is what was said though it sounded like, “Ohhhh, fuck a lot porn between us,” which does not make semantic or syntactic sense but was the only relished gem from this hellish intercourse.

“Yes, that does sound delicious,” was my infinitely clever reply.

Before I could feel the lack of wit kicking my mind in its ass, one of the serpent curled monsters grabbed the bag of popcorn along with her hit list of sales and proudly summonsed her ransom price.

“Forty dollars, please.”

The sound that escaped through the metal in her mouth imprisoned my thoughts.

“Surely…”  I thought, “the grade school witch jests…”

Like a high school girlfriend who has just told you that someone else, the someone she has been dating for the last three weeks before getting you up to speed, was taking her to prom, the gang of X-chromosoned evil stood its ground, emasculating me into giving up my heart along with two shriveled, eunuch-faced Andrew Jacksons.

The Idle Spearhead

“This one is unique.  It comes with the atlatl.”

The elderly woman lulled John’s attention. John crossed the breadth of the antique store’s rickety floor and focused on a spear in the corner.  His thoughts were no place else.

The possession, perfectly balanced in the woman’s wrinkled hand, pierced the lean man’s hawkish eyes.

“The atlatl was used to hold the spear at the base so…”

John’s habit of continuing the thoughts of others compelled him.

“…so it could be thrown farther and faster.”

John felt the black feathers fastened to the spear’s side. He did not have to look further. It would fit nicely between the bronze Quixote lance and the Revolutionary War musket on the back wall in his library.

Some collected stamps. Others coveted bug specimens. John had a healthy addiction for weapons. An ironic compulsion for a man who never raised his voice or felt a pang of rage.

Perversity drove people to use instruments of destruction. The accountant took delight in turning perversity on its head. He collected such instruments for aesthetic appeal alone.

However, I can’t say this with certainty. These are echoes of a story John shared with me. We can’t be certain of any memory since our minds ensure what once was can never be again. Memories are imitations with minute imperfections that grow larger with each attempt of recollection. Memories appear clear, yet like a magician’s sleight of hand, elements remain hidden.

But I digress. My intent is to tell of the last hours of John Aplum, my friend and business accountant. John grew excited as he revealed with a slow enunciation (for effect) the last sentiment of the Native American woman.  She warned, “It’s understood, as my grandfather revealed, this spear is CURSED.”  John admitted the woman’s sense of marketing was sharper than her appreciation for hygiene.

“Surely,” he insisted, this item was “well worth the money.” He had another weapon to display and a haunting tale to tell. His only disappointment was that he could not get the old woman to reveal why it was cursed. She would only assure him of the spear’s wickedness.

“And yet, it sat in the store staring her in the face!” John bubbled with delight, citing the old woman’s contradiction in hosting a dastardly possession.

The following days passed in nondescript fashion aside from a slight change in John’s work ethic. His midday emails went missing. I found myself wondering what had taken John’s attention away. Yet, as if I was completing his thoughts like he often did mine, I knew the answer.

I eventually phoned him. “What do you think? Has it killed tribesmen? Took part in an epic battle? Rhode Island settlers were at peace with the area Natives, yet such calm was not kept between the Narragansett and other New England colonies.”

His frenzy continued, “Of course, I like to join conjecture with historical facts, so I’ve been perusing old history books and encyclopedias. Did you know during King Phillip’s War, the colonists and the Native Americans betrayed Rhode Island’s insistence to remain neutral.”

His excitement came to a new plateau. “What if this was the spear that killed Metacom, the Narragansett war leader who helped burn Providence to the ground? Certainly, such bloodshed would inspire the tribe to curse the weapon!”

My fondness for John’s colorful conjectures was foiled by the pressing need to keep business in order.

“Perhaps you should work outside of your library for the next couple of days, John. I’ve noticed a stutter in your usual working stride. I need you to stay sharp as the sales quarter nears a close.”

Maybe I didn’t phrase it that way. Perhaps I didn’t actually say it at all, but I was thinking it. The solitary years have smeared the vividness of that exchange. But, I can still feel the anxiety and tinge of anger that danced upon my thoughts.

“I understand the urgency of your state of affairs, yet as you know, my work has always exceeded your needs and expectation. If I could just have a few moments to entertain my…”

“Thoughts on the spear?” I completed. “Look, you’re correct in reminding me of your perfection up to this point in our business relations but…”

“That is no excuse for fantasizing about curses and spears. That is what you were going to say. Was it not?” John inquired.

It was eery how well he could complete my thoughts. But, as sure as I was about his dark talent, I was not convinced of his ability to stay on task.

I headed over to his office. I rang the bell twice and about to press a third time when I checked the door that was fortuitously unlocked. I remember the pungent smell of his freshly smoked pipe as I came upon him in the library.  He was staring intensely at the spear on the wall.

There he was perched on a footstool, lifeless, like a gargoyle. You probably expect me to describe how I questioned him. But, I knew. I could finish his thoughts. He had grown OBSESSED.

A sudden rage rushed through me. A torrential downpour of arrows pierced my patience. I intended to grab the spear, tear it from the wall, break it in half, and bring John back to his senses. I can’t recall what happened next. I can only relay, secondhand, what has been told to me by my jailers.

It’s now understood that I, the teller of this tale, am not John’s boss but John. I strangled my employer to death in the library. There was no evidence of a spear, an old woman, or an antique store.

And yet, I can still see the instrument of destruction clear as anything experienced in my rage-less life.

Aisle Kick an Old Lady in the Back

Old ladies are aplenty at the Stop N Shop.  Maybe they need denture cleansers or hard candy so their jaws play music while watching Jeopardy.  Maybe they are there to test the patience of younger men who want to buy a few necessities as quickly as possible so they may continue their wretched lives.

It’s beyond me to definitively answer and yet it’s not below me to observe and judge these slow-walking antiques of vitamin-deficient bone mass.  I myself am not without faults and likely to be the most efficient author of their catalog, yet my purpose here is to be rational in explaining why I would not give a second thought to prodding elderly women with an electrically charged jousting stick in the supermarket.

Firstly, the market is not a graveyard of their peers.  As unfortunate as it is that most people their age are no longer breathing and accumulating viscous masses on the side of their mouths, these women should be limited to how many times they may come to the store each week.  I say once per week is enough; they don’t move much nor need as much sustenance as the fully living.

Like a well worn shoe with tattered velcro straps, the limbs of older women have seen many miles.  Unlike the tension building in my shoulders, which grows stronger while walking behind them, the legs of elders get weaker with each inevitable step in my foiled side-stepping direction.  There should be a roped-off section of the market solely dedicated to geriatrics.  That way, if I decided to waste time in the grocery store to watch them slowly grab for sought items like a blind toddler searching  for hidden Easter eggs on Christmas, I could do so at my own volition.

Of course they know more than several people throughout.  These slugs of human form are centuries old and have seen every living man, woman, and child before.  Also, the fact that they live at a pace that is unnervingly slower than the shift of tectonic plates, makes it entirely plausible they’ve had time to squint long enough to notice each person that passes by.  They should be provided with two tokens at the onset of their weekly visit and allowed to engage in an awkward conversation with unfortunate victims who later redeem a token for discounts on purchased items.  Some lotteries invite the opportunity to be stoned to death.  This one will allow for saving 25% on seasonal fruits and overpriced balls of smoked mozzarella.

I’ll kick an old lady in the back just as swiftly as I would their chaperone who should know better than to bring mobile-challenged lifeforms out into the light of day.  If you live or care for those who are above the age of sixty-five, keep them locked safely in the basement where they belong and will pose no threat to those who can still tie laces and chew with their mouth closed.  You are not being a good person by taking elders out of their first-floor living spaces.  You are waging cruel and unusual nuisances on the rest of us who know that it’s much easier to tell these senile, walking corpses in gown pajamas that they have already gone to the supermarket for the week.

I’m not insinuating that old ladies are entirely useless.  They can provide insight via the same stories told each time you see them, which is very convenient if you’re not an auditory learner or really paying attention to them the first few times you hear the tales.  However, it’s time to omit them from the supermarket aisles so those with straight backs and visibly veinless legs can be a happier and have a few more moments to make disparaging observations regarding other people, places, and things.