The University of Pennsylvania, Department of English, is offering a course with the title of, “Wasting Time On The Internet.”
Down at St. Arbucks the “Usual Suspects” seemed subdued and even quasi-rational. I should have recognized that as an omen of Strange to Come.
From the moment we first open our eyes we have to make one decision after another. Should I close my eyes again and go back to sleep – or – Should I get up and got to work or school or whatever?
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF DIFFERING DEFINITIONS of the word “Courage.” Some call it “Grace under pressure,” while others say it is “Being scared, but acting anyway.” I think that, in many cases, what is called courage is simply not paying attention to what is happening around you.
This year we are in St. Louis to catch a three game series with the Cardinals. Last year we were in Cincinnati, which was very nice, but it is hard to beat St. Louis when it comes to putting on a baseball game.
JUST ABOUT EVERY SATURDAY my wife, the lovely and officially Reverend, Dawn, sits down and writes her sermon for Sunday’s services. She starts planning each sermon days or even weeks ahead of time, but does the actual typing on Saturday. It is a lot of work. She doesn’t get up there and wing it on Sunday morning. It takes her a lot of preparation time and it shows in her sermons. Just ask anybody who hears her.
This past Saturday she was busy working on her sermon when I announced that I was heading out to St. Arbucks to work on this blog.
“I’m going to attempt to be somewhat creative,” I said.
“Me too,” she answered. “I’ll tell you what – how about it if I do your blog and you do my sermon?”
When I stumbled up to get a refill I stopped by his table and we chatted about that remarkable part of the country. As we spoke I saw the sparks light up in his eyes. He was like me – a man who breathes better on the road.
At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.
The Usual Suspects were there when I arrived and, after exhausting the topic of the Chicago Cubs Baseball team, they began to talk about “Tele-Evangelists we have known.” This had nowhere to go but down and it did so very quickly.
When I got up this morning the temperature was in the mid 50s. I actually wore a light hoodie when I went for coffee at the Chapel of St. Arbucks. There were school busses driving around, getting ready for the resumption of classes next Monday. Yes, it was all very Autumnal.
But…but… I’m not ready for summer to be over.
I got up at my usual time – 7 AM-ish and got my act together so I could leave the house without either scaring the neighbors or getting my butt arrested. Up to that point the morning was going along uneventfully.
My wife, the lovely and early rising today, Dawn, was already up and more or less “at ‘em.” She had an 8:30 appointment and set the alarm for some ungodly hour to ensure that she would not be late. I applaud her for that.
It was at this point that things began to go downhill like a Chevy with a faulty parking brake in San Francisco. I had my own appointment to see my Doctor at 11:20 AM.
11:20? 11:bleeping 20? What moron scheduled an appointment for that late in the day? Oh. Never mind. My bad.
The main reason I see this Doctor at all is because I have “Blood Pressure Issues.” That means that, untreated, my blood pressure tends to creep up to rival that of a charging Cape Buffalo. After that my head would explode, I would spontaneously combust and I would hit the ground like an overcooked baked potato.
By scheduling an appointment for that late in the morning it meant one very significant and overriding thing: I wouldn’t be able to have my morning coffee until after the appointment.
Dear God! Whatever will I do? Wherever will I go?
If I go ahead and drop by St. Arbucks for my morning coffee my blood pressure will spike like Vlad The Impaler on a bad day. I had doomed myself to a morning without my coffee. Sheesh!
My solution to this self-inflicted wound was to nurse along a cup of Decaf and hope that it wouldn’t rat on me when they wrapped that cuff on my arm.
I know what you are thinking –“Decaf?” That is just like kissing your sister. It is technically a kiss, but it’s not the same. It’s not like the Real Thing.
So, bowing my head in shame, I ordered the coffee that isn’t coffee and I skulked to my chair in the corner. The barista got a bit teary, The Usual Suspects – The Brotherhood of the Cup, stared and whispered to each other. Even the flies moved to the far side of the store, ashamed to be seen near me.
I sat there waiting for it to be time to leave. I sipped at the dark liquid, wondering what do they do to make it taste like that – and why, for Heaven’s sake. Why?
Deep in my heart I knew that I had a good reason for doing what I was doing. It was my health, my very life, which was in the balance. With my meds I had the blood pressure of an adult human male of my age. Without my meds no one within splatter range was safe. I was like a human paint ball. I didn’t want to mislead the Doctor with a BP reading that would be artificially goosed up by my cup of real coffee.
Some days you just have to take one for the team. Some days you have to lean in to the fastball. If I had to pretend that the stuff in my cup was really coffee I would do it. I would hope that the stress of making this sacrifice would not, in itself, raise my blood pressure, but I would do it.
I had to think of my family, man!
I want them to be proud of me. I want them to see me happy. I want them to see me above ground.
BACK IN DECEMBER, just before Christmas, we bade farewell to the old Hyundai after twelve years and brought home a new (to us) Toyota. Yesterday I took the Barcelona Red car in to the dealer for its first checkup after 5000 miles. It kinda felt like taking the baby in for some booster shots, or the cat to be spayed.