It didn’t work out that way.
I should have known that things weren’t going to work out for me.
A BROKEN STRAW –A METAPHOR FOR MY LIFE.
Even though I am more or less retired I still find Monday to be a toxic spot on my calendar. This past Monday morning was no exception.
For some unknown reason I woke up at about 4:30 AM and could not get back to sleep. So I grabbed a pair of sox and started from there to get dressed and go get some coffee. All I can figure is that I must have either nodded off or I was kidnapped by Space Aliens and returned to my bed 90 minutes later. I felt no evidence of “probing.”All of the proverbial sudden it was 6 AM and I had one sock dangling from my right foot.
I finished dressing and completed my morning obligations (Making a pot of tea and gathering my morning meds) and steering the Toyota down the street to St. Arbucks. I was on the verge of Psychic Collapse.
Throwback Thursday from October 2015 –
OK. THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE CYNICAL, I SUPPOSE. I’m not against Halloween or anything like that. It’s just that it paints me into a corner every year. What kind of costume should I have? Should I buy something or make it myself? Should it be in good taste or just the usual?
I haven’t gone “Trick or Treating” for years. I finally figured out that people don’t like to part with their Snickers when the bag is being held by a guy with a white beard – a real white beard.
Nowadays I wear a costume when I’m handing out the goodies at the door or when we go to a party. Neither one is as much fun as hitting up the neighbors for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
I DON’T MIND IT WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME QUESTIONS. I don’t even mind tough questions – not at all. But what constitutes a tough question often depends on the time of day.
You can ask me for the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything after lunch and I can give you the answer (42). However, if you ask me that before my first coffee of the day and I’d be stumped. Actually, almost any question before coffee is likely to be answered with nothing more than a grunt.
This morning that is what happened to me.
There was not much I could say to that except, “And I hate Komodo Dragons. Now, can I get some coffee?”
As I stood there politely paying for my coffee I was presented with a non-stop confession of everything that was making the Barista unhappy. I was waiting to see if I had made her list. I didn’t.
WE HAVE BEEN SPENDING A FEW DAYS OUT IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. It is a lovely city with a great climate. I was, however, feeling a serious lack that needed filling.
My wife, the lovely and actively involved, Dawn, and I have been attending an annual church meeting/conference. While she is working hard I am here mainly to serve as “Arm Candy.” I can handle that.
Because my function is not really needed in Meetings, Seminars, and Committee sessions I have a fair amount of time on my hands. That is when things began to go south in a figurative sense. I needed some coffee and I was a stranger in a strange land.
Google Mars told me that there were several oases of coffee nearby – one of them a scant 0.2 miles away. One of the other conference attendees said that she walked there in 9 minutes – and she uses a cane.
I stopped at the front desk of the Marriott Something Hotel and asked for directions. The young lady on duty smiled constantly as she gave me specific instruction to steer me to the 0.2 miles away Starbucks.
“Just go out of the front door here and turn left. It is about a 10 minute walk. Would you like a cup of coffee right now?”
She must have had one of those Yeti gizmos stashed behind her desk. I took a raincheck on her offer. I wanted the real thing. All I had to do was to remember to “Go out of the front door here and turn left.” I could do that. I am a college graduate.
WELL, I STARTED OFF TODAY IN FINE FORM. No sooner did I set my coffee down on my sacred corner table than I hit the straw and flipped the whole thing into the air and created Lake Starbucks on the floor.
What a dump.
I guess I’m off the Bomb Squad.
The Barista who had handled my transaction was quite pleasant, jovial even – not an easy trick at 6:30 AM. Her twinkling eyes and lilting voice disappeared when she was pushing that mop around trying to clean up my mess. So much for good customer relations. The look she shot in my direction when she finished mopping up my coffee could have melted plastic. I have a feeling that I am now on her “Spit in his coffee” list.
UH, OH, THIS COULD COME TO BLOWS unless a cooler head steps in. I’ll see what I can do until that Sainted person arrives.
Yesterday morning at St. Arbucks the rack that is used to hold the various newspapers for sale disappeared. It didn’t take long to discover why.
I am completely innocent in all of this.
Every morning the early bird customers, AKA either “The Brain Trust” or “The Usual Suspects,” come in for coffee and they plop down in the corner like so many Hutts of Jabba. Several of them also like to pore over the newspapers. The burr under the saddle of the management is that none of them ever buy one of those newspapers. They just read them, occasionally cop a coupon, and then, more or less, refold the papers and put them back on the rack.
They are not always neat. Most mornings the newspapers look like they had spent the day at the bottom of a cockatoo cage.
IF YOU RECALL, about two weeks ago there was a posting here called
“Now THAT Was A Surprise Party”
It all had to do with an effort to do something nice for someone. We should have known better.
For Newcomers and Amnesiacs I will give a brief reminder of the circumstances.
One of the baristas at our local Chapel of St. Arbucks was leaving to go be a circus performer – flying on the high trapeze to be exact. A few of us regulars here (AKA “The Usual Suspects”) decided it would be nice get her a cake for her last day on the job. One Suspect volunteered to assume the task of getting the cake from the nearby Kroger’s Supermarket. This is where it all began to fall apart.
He ordered a cake that was to be decorated with little plastic figures giving it a circus motif. He was to pick it up at 7:30 AM and bring it to the party.
At 7:30 AM he went to the Kroger’s and they told him it wasn’t going to be ready until 7:30 PM. Major Snafu. He showed them the receipt saying clearly “7:30 AM.” They panicked and told him to come back in 30 minutes.
Snafu Number Two
When I arrived at St. Arbucks I was informed that the young lady had decided to blow off her last day on the job. No cake, now no Guest of Honor.
Great. Just great.
Fast forward a few days. Kroger calls our Cake Orderer and says, “Come get your cake, Bucko!” He goes to the store and a confrontation ensues that results in the Bakery Manager chewing out the clerk, the clerk being upset, and Kroger tearing up our bill for the cake. Now the circus cake is THEIR PROBLEM.
Jump ahead to this past Wednesday when our innocent Cake Orderer goes into the Kroger to do his shopping. As he walks past the Bakery counter he clearly hears the same chewed out clerk tell a fellow clerk, “There’s that guy.”
He is now officially, “That guy.”
Unable to resist the chance to throw kerosene on a fire I went into the store yesterday afternoon. I browsed the cakes on display. The aforementioned clerk asks if she can be of assistance.
“Yes, thank you. Do you have any cakes with a circus theme?”
Her back got stiff and her eyes got skinny.
“Who is this for?” she asked.
I gave her a cock and bull story about a coworker leaving. It made no sense, but it seemed to satisfy her.
“”Well, we had a circus cake last week, but not anymore.”
“Can you make another one for me?”
I didn’t push the issue. I never argue with someone who is skilled in using kitchen knives.
Last night our original Cake Orderer went back into the store. He spoke with someone else at the Bakery who gave him a behind the scenes glimpse at what had gone down.
It seems that this cake fiasco caused quite a furor inside their little frosting covered world. There is bad blood behind the counter now. I advised my fellow Suspect to do his shopping elsewhere.
All we wanted to do was to have a little going away party for a nice young lady who likes to hang upside down thirty feet in the air and who can make a good cup of coffee. What was wrong with that?
I guess this goes to prove that no good deed goes unpunished.
WHAT IS GOING ON IN SEATTLE? It is still the middle of the night out there, but I’m sure that somebody must be at the St. Arbucks corporate wheel. For three days now they have been piping in almost non-stop Elton John songs into this store in Indiana.
Three days of an Elton John-a-thon and as soon as I mentioned it to the Barista here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “I’m Still Standing.”) the Elton John music came to a screeching halt and was replaced by something for your “Pickin’ and Grinnin’ Pleasure” – some serious country music with banjos and such. That lasted for all of ten minutes and then “Tiny Dancer” signaled a return to the Elton John Extravaganza. My guess is that whoever is the big Reggie Dwight fan had to go to the bathroom and his Cousin Lemuel, visiting from Grinders Switch, Tennessee changed the playlist. When Lemuel’s cousin returned from the Euphemism so did Mr. John.
After three days I felt that I had to take action. I was going to be Proactive! When it comes to music I’m not fussy, but still…three days?
THIS MORNING I DISCOVERED ONE MORE ADVANTAGE to being a retired old Geezer. I am no longer fraught with the problems of making career decisions. All of that is behind me in the far distant past – and in a galaxy far, far away.
I came to realize this about myself early this morning as I was getting my coffee from a young (23) barista down at St. Arbucks. The young barista has recently finished college with a degree in Spanish. With that degree her job opportunities in Terre Haute (That’s French for “No habla Español aqui.”) are rather limited unless you had a minor in burrito making. So, this pleasant young lady has to make some hard choices – either move someplace for a job that can utilize her skills and education or get used to wearing an apron and a plastic name tag.
Even though it had been only a few short hours, he looked surprised to see her. The three women looked annoyed.
“Hi, Luco,” said Marlee. She nodded to the women, waiting for Luco to make the introductions. His eyes said that the idea of doing so had yet to make an appearance.
After a short, but awkward silence with nothing forthcoming from Luco, Marlee took matters into her own hands.
“Hi, my name is Marlee.” She extended her hand, but none of the women moved. Marlee got the message.
“OK. Well, I guess I’ll see you all later at the cat show.”
Feeling the chill, she started to leave.
“No, Marlee, wait,” said Luco. “I’m sorry. Where are my manners? Has anybody seen them?” He giggled at his own joke.
Luco was drunk. That much was now quite obvious to Marlee.
“Marlee…yes. Tina, Shaniqua and Millie, this is Marlee. Marlee, these three ladies are…Sheena, Monique and…Tillie.” He was groping in the dark for the names.
All of the women looked at Luco as if he had completely lost his mind. He hadn’t. He’d just mislaid it at the bottom of a tequila bottle.
“What? Did I say something wrong?”
The women looked at each other.
“Hi, Marlee. I’m Mindy. She’s Tashika and this is Sylvie.”
“Oh, really?” said Luco. “I’m sorry.” He seemed embarrassed, but it was hard to tell. He had riveted his eyes on Marlee, like he had never seen her before.
Luco leaned forward toward Marlee. “Are you having a good time?
“Yes I am, Luco. I’ve met some very interesting people.”
She looked at Luco, taking inventory of this man.
His eyes, she noticed, had an undefined sadness in them. He was in isolation behind his eyes. Here he was at this party, surrounded by women, yet standing in the foggy air very apart and alone. Marlee wondered why.
She peered past his long lashes and through his soft gray eyes in an attempt to use them as those oft-quoted windows into his soul. All she saw was a dark, forbidding barrier. Nothing could get past it. Luco was a divided man. Marlee wondered what had happened to him to make him so apart from himself.
Mindy, or maybe it was Tashika, saw the intensity of Marlee’s gaze and the way she was assessing Luco and put her face right up to Marlee’s. “Jesus, honey, leave something for the rest of us.”
Inside Luco’s mind he was considering Marlee in a new light. She was no longer just the next customer in line, but a woman, a very attractive woman. In the misty, diffused light, an aura seemed to shine around her. Had he been sober he would have realized that it was just a trick of optics. He was not sober and her image reminded him of the pictures he had seen as a child, paintings of the saints floating in a beatific corona.
Seeing Marlee appear so suddenly, her hair glowing and the turquoise teardrop pendant so brightly perched by her heart, Luco was attracted and unnerved.
“Marlee, you look like Santa Maria de Merida. Your hair, your turquoise, your halo.”
“My what? My halo? Luco… you’re drunk as a skunk.”
“No. No. Listen to me. Can’t you see it, Tamisha? Doesn’t Marlee look like Santa Maria? You’re beautiful. You’re sagrada.”
“Luco, I’m not any saint and you need to stop drinking for tonight.” She looked at the other women who all had their arms crossed, not amused by Luco’s fixation. Mindy’s eyes were just slits aimed at Marlee.
“You want him sobered up, Your Holiness, you do it alone. I came here to get laid.” Tashika picked up the thought.
“Yes, Little Missy, we came here to get this man drunk, horizontal and naked. Now, you butt in and he’s talking about your ‘halo’…Damn. Girls, let’s leave these two alone so they can pray.”
They all pushed past Marlee, giving her steely looks. Sylvie stopped and spoke, not caring that Luco was standing right there.
“Girl, you bring him up to the second floor and maybe we can all get a taste of each other.”
“What?” Marlee was incredulous. The fog swirled as the girls walked away.
Marlee and Luco were alone and her mouth was open in amazement. His eyes were half closed in a stupor. He was ready to pass out.
“Luco? Are you alright? You don’t look so hot.”
“Hi, Marlee.” A silly grin stumbled its way across his face. “Marlee, I’d like you to meet three of my closest friends. Tanya, Slovakia…hey. Where’d they all go?”
He looked around at the empty air. The motion disoriented him and he started to reel. Marlee reached out and grabbed him before he fell over. She tried to get her shoulder under his for support. Luco smiled at her then turned his head toward the street and vomited.
“Oh, Luco,” said Marlee. Luco’s place in her unconscious ratings dropped several spots. She held him until his session ended.
“C’mon, Luco. Let’s get you inside.”
She put her arm around his waist and draped his arm over her shoulder and began to maneuver Luco’s bulk toward the house. All she wanted to do was get him inside and then let him sleep it off.
Climbing the steps up from the walk was a big job. Marlee half pushed Luco ahead of her. It wasn’t so much walking with him, as it was controlled falling.
When they reached the top step, Marlee was out of breath.
“Let’s stop here for a second.”
She leaned up against the wall and Luco carefully sat on the rim of a large planter box filled with geraniums. Marlee held onto his hand, just in case he started to teeter backward. Marlee took a few deep breaths.
“I need to get in shape, Luco. Luco? Are you with me?”
He looked up at her and smiled.
Marlee looked at him and laughed. She couldn’t help herself.
“Luco, I’d hate to be your head in the morning. C’mon, big fellow. Let’s go.”
She gave his arm a tug to pull him to his feet. It worked and Luco rose onto two very shaky legs. He tried to steady himself, but lurched forward, bumping into Marlee.
The force of his body in motion pinned her to the white siding by the door. His muscled chest pressed against her. Marlee gave him a shove, but he was dead weight. His face was flush against hers.
“Luco, let’s get you inside. Where is everybody now that I need some help?”
“Hi, Marlee.” He smiled and without warning he turned his head and kissed Marlee full on the lips.
The force of the kiss surprised Marlee even more than the kiss itself. After all, drunken men often do stupid things.
One summer she had to deal with the pawings and sloppy kisses of a gangly oboist. When Luco’s body crushed against her and his mouth clamped on hers, the first words that entered Marlee’s mind were, “Band Camp.”
“Luco,” she managed to mumble when he slipped off her face and shifted his amorous moves to Marlee’s neck.
“Oh, mi corazon. Te amo.” At least that’s what it sounded like to Marlee.
She wasn’t angry. She knew that it was the alcohol and gravity that had Luco acting this way. Marlee wasn’t mad, but she sure as hell wanted him off of her.
Marlee gave him another good shove and he rocked backward onto his heels. Afraid he might fall and hurt himself she grabbed his shirt to steady him. Luco’s marinated endocrine system took that gesture as a call to action and Luco, once again tried to kiss Marlee. This time his right hand found her breast.
“Damn it, Luco,” said Marlee, her patience gone. She pushed him off and pulled her hand back to hit him. The force of her shove made the slap moot. Luco staggered back. His feet tried to move fast enough to stay under him, but failed. He reeled and fell, luckily backside first, into the planter box. He landed with a thud, crushing the season’s first blossoming of the geraniums.
Marlee, her hand still ready to slap Luco if he tried again, was breathing heavily from the surprise and the exertion. She could see her breath misting as she exhaled.
She looked down at Luco, sitting on the flowers, looking dejected and mumbling to himself. A lone surviving geranium poked up from Luco’s crotch. Life goes on.
Seeing Luco in such a sorry state upset Marlee. Luco had always seemed so “in control,” so above the crass and mundane. And now, here he was, sloppy drunk, sitting in a flower box.
“Oh, Luco. I’m so… disappointed in you, and that’s my fault, not yours. I believed in the image and forgot that there was a real person behind it.”
Luco stirred and looked up at Marlee.
“Mi paloma. Te amo. Besa Regalito por mi.”
He blinked and for a moment his fog lifted.
Wandering her way back into the dining room, Marlee saw John, the bearded writer from the cafe. He was sitting on the window seat engaged in an animated conversation with a woman who wore her chestnut brown hair in a ponytail. They were both eating pie. John spotted Marlee and beckoned her to join them. He stood and offered his spot next to the woman. She accepted.
“Marlee, I’d like you to meet Dawn. Dawn, Marlee. Marlee, Dawn.” Pleasantries exchanged, John mounted his invisible soapbox.
“Marlee, Dawn and I were just discussing the finer points of pie.”
“Pie” said Marlee, one eyebrow arching? “I would have guessed that you would be debating James Joyce or Shakespeare. Pie surprises me.”
“Writers talk about other writers over coffee or whiskey,” said Dawn, a sly smile creeping across her face. “Over pie, however, the only topic for discussion can be pie.” There was a trace of Texas in her voice.
“You see, Marlee,” bubbled John, “Dawn here thinks that it is the crust that makes or breaks the pie experience.”
Dawn picked up on his thought.
“Yes. A great crust can carry even a mediocre filling to a higher plane, but, John, misguided Sweetheart that he is, thinks that it is the filling, be it fruit, custard or even chiffon, that elevates it from a mere dessert, to that of a world shaking ‘whoopee’.”
“World shaking ‘whoopee’” said Marlee?
“Dawn and I have this same argument at every party: Crust versus Filling, Filling versus Crust.
“Marlee, please play Solomon for us. What is the answer? What makes this pie so good?”
Marlee looked at the two of them with their paper plates sagging under the weight of the still warm pie.
“I’ll have to taste the pie,” said Marlee, “To be able to give you a reasoned answer.”
Dawn and John held out their plates to her.
“This might require more than one bite.”
Both plates moved closer.
Marlee used Dawn’s fork to cut a bite from the moist wedge of pie.
“First, I will taste for the quality of the crust.”
Marlee made a great show of tasting the pie. It was peach. Warm and juicy, not long from the oven, this was very good pie and was making for a delicious midnight snack. She rolled her tongue over, around and through the crust, juice, and slices of soft fruit, as if she were assessing a fine wine.
“This is excellent pie,” said Marlee. “It’s still warm. Who made it?”
Dawn held up her hand, wiggling her fingers.
“Guilty,” said Dawn. “I made it. I live right next door and it’s as fresh as can be. Is that a great crust, or what?”
“It’s wonderful, maybe the best I’ve ever had,” said Marlee in true appreciation.
John jumped in.
“Sure it is. It’s a marvelous crust. I’ll stipulate that, but take another bite and, Marlee, this time, focus on the peaches.”
Fighting back the urge to giggle, Marlee took the fork from John’s plate and repeated the tasting ritual. Dawn and John watched every move of her jaw, every smack of her lips.
“You watch, Dawn. Marlee is going to say it’s the filling.”
“John, you just hush up now and let the woman do her job. It’s the crust, isn’t it, Darlin’?”
Marlee continued her taste test while watching these two people who obviously enjoyed each other’s company and their ongoing debate.
“Alright,” said Marlee as she licked her lips. “I’ve come to a conclusion.” She handed the plate back to John, and stood up. John sat down next to Dawn and they looked up at Marlee with excitement and anticipation in their eyes.
“In this debate about crust over filling.” Marlee paused and slowly flicked a couple of crumbs from her jacket. “I have decided that what makes this peach pie so wonderful is: the high quality of the affection of the two people sharing the pie.”
Both Dawn and John looked at Marlee quizzically and then at each other and then back at Marlee once again. Marlee dabbed at the corners of her mouth with John’s paper napkin.
“That’s my judgment, folks. I’m going to go mingle a bit. You two enjoy your pie,” Marlee said as she walked off toward the front room. As she left she heard them speaking.
“I still say it’s the filling.”
Like all house parties there is always a refuge from the noise and the crowd. After the pie debate Marlee went looking for it. A place to get some fresh air and to have a moment to herself. Several hours of bone-jarring music, out-front questionable behavior and a jaw-dropping assortment from the human zoo, had put a light glaze over Marlee’s eyes. A deep breath that wouldn’t give her a contact high was her objective.
Marlee went down the back stairs. They were crowded with people on the move and on the make. As she passed the second floor she got two offers she could easily refuse. The one from the man was just crude.
On the street level were two doors, the one on the left opened into the kitchen, the one on the right was ajar. Marlee pushed it open and felt a rush of cool air.
Stepping onto the small porch, Marlee joined three partygoers who were talking and sharing a joint. As soon as she came through the door one of the men offered her a hit. She declined with a smile and walked down the five wooden steps to a red brick walk.
The backyard was large by San Francisco standards. Along the eastern edge was a tangle of white and yellow rose bushes. A large Weber kettle barbeque had been fired up and two more guests were warming their hands. The fog had sifted its way through the trees and the air was biting and crisp.
Marlee could see in the spill of light from the house that there were a few people engaged in conversation or quiet romance along the fence by the garage. She didn’t want to intrude, so she followed the brick pathway until it reached the sidewalk. The street was quiet. Just the occasional car drove past. The other houses were dark. High shrubs shielded the yard from passersby and the normal tumult of the street.
Marlee heard voices from the other side of the hedge, three women’s voices. They were talking about the party and they all seemed to be trying to talk at once. This trio of voices piqued her curiosity.
Just as Marlee turned the corner around the hedges, she heard a fourth voice. It was a quartet.
“Ladies, please. The night is still very young.”
It was Luco. “There are three of you and only one of….”
He saw Marlee appear out of the dark.
“Marlee, where have you been?”
Its 6:30 AM AND THE FIRST ANNUAL ST. ARBUCKS DISCO PARTY IS IN FULL SWING!
Gloria Gaynor is Surviving nicely as I sip my coffee. I can feel the beat as my head serves as my own personal Disco Ball. It may be 28° outside, but inside – it is cookin’!
A couple of the baristas are moving to the constant tempo and even the manager has a case of Saturday Night Fever. That man can strut!
I don’t know who picks the piped in music, but I suspect it comes in all the way from Seattle. That tells me that somebody on the shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait either danced the night away or has just purchased a closet full of Polyester Shirts and Platform Shoes.
Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued
The street level flat served as a reception area. People met there and decided where their tastes would lead them. It was Conversation and Drinking on the First Floor.
The second floor was holding two special interest parties. One side was devoted to getting stoned and people were doing so vigorously. The other side was dedicated to the pleasures of the flesh.
Spider’s top floor flat was by invitation only and the attraction there was the music.
People moved from floor to floor by using the back stairs. Spider led her group through each floor acting as tour guide and Protector. “Things can get a little grab-ass on the stairs,” she warned them.
Marlee situated herself in the middle of her group as it moved through the building. On the second floor, as they passed through the dining room, a naked man, covered with tattoos, walked past them. He was busily chatting on a cellular phone. Luco tapped Marlee on the shoulder. “How’s it going? You OK?”
Her eyes were wide open and there was a somewhat stunned look on her face. “I’m fine, Luco, but I think I understand how Dorothy felt on her first day in Oz.”
On the landing between the second and third floors Spider gathered her brood around her. The music pulsed through the walls. The stairs vibrated.
“Ladies and gentleman, we’re nearing the end of our guided tour. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on the way out. Now, you’ve seen that the main floor is an open house. On two it is sex and drugs and on three it is ROCK AND ROLL!” She let out a piercing rebel yell and ran up the steps with her fist raised.
Marlee wasn’t quite sure what to expect upon entering the third floor. The first two had taken her to worlds as alien as the surface of Mars and now she was venturing into “The Center of the Web.”
Coming in off the back steps and into the kitchen, Marlee walked into…a kitchen. It was a kitchen with sparkling white appliances, a wooden island and cafe curtains on the windows. It looked normal, or it would have if it weren’t for the people filling the room. Seated at the small glass table was a woman with spiked hair and dark blue lipstick. She was holding a very young baby. The baby’s hair was also spiked. Its wispy brown hair was gelled into four short peaks. The mother waved to Marlee and motioned her over to the table.
“Hi, Honey. I could use your help.”
“Hi. My name is Marlee. Your baby is cute as a bug”
“Yeah, well, he can be a real pisser if he ain’t fed. Sit down for a second. I’m Scar.” Marlee pulled out a chair sat next to the young mother. “Here, hold him for just a minute. My arms are frozen in place from carrying him all the time.”
Marlee reached over and took the infant, cradling him close to her body. It made Marlee smile and she felt her body respond to the feel of the baby in her arms. He looked up into Marlee’s eyes and gurgled.
“He likes you. Normally he screams like a bad Heavy Metal band when anybody else touches him. Hang on, Lucifer, it’s on the way.”
Marlee looked up to see that Scar had dropped her black cotton tunic and was naked to the waist.
“Alright, I’ll take him back now. Thanks, Marlee. She reached out and Marlee laid the now squirming baby back into his mother’s arms. Marlee started to get up to give them some privacy in the middle of the chaos.
“Oh, one more minute, Marlee. Wait.” She transferred the child to her other arm. While Marlee and fifteen other people watched, the mother used her free hand to remove one of her solid gold nipple rings.
“Don’t want the little pisser to choke. Here hold this for me, will you? I set it down and one of these freaks will cop it.”
Marlee held the nipple ring and spent the next ten minutes watching Scar nurse Lucifer. It moved Marlee to her soul to witness this most personal moment between a mother and child in the middle of such noisy chaos.
Leaving Marlee behind in the kitchen, Spider led the crew and friends from the People’s Cafe deeper into her web.
Passing through the dining room, with its crystal and brass chandelier, Luco reached up and ripped a bagel from the crisscross of wires that were strung from the ceiling across the room. Hundreds of bagels were threaded on the wires, dangling down, offering savory treats to the crowded room.
The front room of the flat was Ground Zero of Spider’s party world. The furniture would make anyone think he had stumbled into the living room at the Cleaver household. The early American style sofa and matching loveseat and end tables seemed lost and the Laz-e-Boy recliner looked downright mystified to be there. The only thing about the room that would hint that a woman like Spider lived there was the array of speakers mounted in the four corners near the ceiling. “Ambient-Techno” music was shaking the drywall.
This party was the first time Pete, had visited Spider’s home. It was more and less than he expected. The second floor both repulsed him and made him want to pay another visit. The third floor was a confusing paradox to him.
He grabbed Spider by the arm to get her attention over the din.
“Spider, I have a question.”
“What’s that, Pete?” Her head was bobbing to the fuzzy beat coming from overhead.
“Your apartment…the furniture. It’s so…”
“Ozzie and Harriet? Yeah, I know. I used to date a guy who owned a furniture store. He loved me,” she said as she wandered off.
Pete hadn’t heard a word of her answer. When Spider walked away and left him adrift on this sea of options, he shrugged his shoulders and decided to go back to the second floor. He wanted to sample whatever he could before morning.
Marlee, still smiling from her experience in the kitchen, came into the main room and saw Zephyr standing by the window overlooking the park. The music had turned soft and electronic.
“Hi, Zephyr. Mind if I join you?”
“So, what do you think? Pretty cool, right?”
“It’s amazing, but don’t the neighbors complain about the noise when you throw one of these parties?”
“No, not at all. We make sure to invite them to the party. They’re all here. See?” Zephyr pointed to the sofa. Marlee looked over and saw an elderly Chinese couple nibbling on bagels and sipping from bottles of Tsing-tao beer. They were chatting with each other and with the young man dressed as Wonder Woman seated at their feet.
“We invite everybody within bitching distance. It eliminates a lot of trouble.”
“Well, I know that you invite the police too. I met one earlier tonight who said he would be here.”
“Was he the one you were talking with outside the cafe?”
“Yes. He seemed very nice.”
“Pretty blue eyes? Thighs like a bullfrog?”
“Ummm, yes.” Marlee was a bit embarrassed that she had noticed those details.
Zephyr indicated with her chin for Marlee to turn around. She did and there was Mike the bicycle officer standing in the doorway, his right hand on his hip.
He was dressed in a dazzlingly white tuxedo shirt, complete with studs and cuffs. He had on a pair of snug fitting black slacks that emphasized his muscular legs.
Zephyr looked him up and down. “Oh, I gotta get me some of that. See you later, Marlee,” she said as she walked across the room, her eyes more than undressing him.
Marlee watched as Zephyr reached her tattooed arm up and around Mike’s neck and gave him a kiss that could double as his semiannual dental exam. He seemed a bit surprised, but not displeased as he put his arm around her waist and lifted her off the ground without breaking the kiss.
With her body in his firm grasp and pressed against his, Zephyr finally withdrew her tongue from his throat and put her lips to his ear. Marlee couldn’t hear her words, but she could read his lips when he spoke back. “Hi. My name is Mike.”
Now it was Marlee who was standing alone. The group from the van had dispersed throughout the house. Spider was busy playing hostess to her eclectic guest list. Zephyr was fast being absorbed in Mike’s arms. Pete was down on floor number two busily breaking four commandments and Luco was…nowhere to be found.
Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued
After showering and putting on her makeup Marlee stood in front of her open closet door.
“What does one wear to a midnight party hosted by someone named ‘Spider’?”
The answer was obvious and she lifted the hanger holding the cream colored silk top. It had a scoop neckline that accented her slender neck. At the cuffs were silk covered buttons; each showing a small black stitched F-Clef.
Marlee picked up a short gold chain and held it up to the silk. “No, more color.” Picking through her modest jewelry box she found the perfect pieces: a turquoise teardrop pendant and matching earrings. The turquoise glowed against her skin. “That’s the look.” Black slingbacks completed the outfit.
With the creamy silk over simple black slacks and Marlee was satisfied with what she saw in the mirror.
The night was chilly and the fog was down to the ground. Marlee tossed on her turquoise blazer. It looked good and it would keep her warm enough for the short walk to the cafe.
A few minutes before midnight Marlee was making sure that the building front gate was latched.
“Miss? Excuse me.” The voice from behind startled her. She turned and saw two San Francisco Police officers straddling mountain bikes.
“Good evening. Is something wrong?”
“Not at all, but are you walking very far to your car? It is rather late and the streets can get rough at night.”
“I’m just walking up to the People’s Cafe and then on to a party.”
“At Spider’s? You’ll have a lot of fun. Still, let us walk with you.”
Together the three of them ambled through the fog past the glowing neon sign at the Head Shop and sending a pair of street predators slinking off to find some deeper shadows.
Both officers were in their 30’s and incredibly fit. Patrolling the hilly streets of The City on bicycles gave them superb cardiovascular systems, incredible stamina and muscular thighs that put power to the pedals and steamy fantasies in the minds of a large number of the women on their beat.
The officer who walked on Marlee’s left weighed his chances with the slender blonde. “Ever been to one of Spider’s parties before?” He had lively eyes.
“No, my first time tonight. Everybody seems to know about her parties. They must be something. What’s her secret?”
“She knows how to invite just the right mix of people. Interesting, outgoing and a few who are downright freaky.” Even in the fog his eyes twinkled.
“Oh, my,” said Marlee. “I wonder which quota I’m there to fill?”
“We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll bump into you there.”
“You’re coming to the party? Both of you?”
“No, just me. My partner here has to get home to the wife and kids. Right, Sherlock?”
The other officer who had been silent up to this point finally spoke. He had a slight New England tang to his voice. “That’s true, Miss. Gloria and I have six little fingerlings in the pond, so I don’t get to too many of Spider’s parties. Not off-duty anyway.”
When they approached the brightly lit exterior of the People’s Cafe Marlee turned to her guardians.
“Gentlemen, thank you for the escort. I feel very safe knowing you are around.”
“Our pleasure, Miss,” said Sherlock. The officer with the glint in his eye leaned across his handlebars and extended his hand. “My name is Mike and I’ll see you at the party.”
Marlee shook his hand. “My name is Marlee and maybe we’ll get a chance to chat. Bye now.”
The policemen silently pedaled off into the fog.
The cafe was almost empty. A young couple was leaving just as Marlee reached the door. She saw that some of the early morning regulars were engaged in an animated debate, probably over some arcane point of San Francisco history.
Behind the counter, Marlee saw Pete, the owner; Zephyr, her hair a vibrant orange tonight instead of pink, Spider was dressed all in black, as usual, and Luco. Marlee was used to seeing Luco dressed in a confidently casual black T-shirt and black denim pants. Tonight he had on a light blue chambray shirt and chinos. The light colored shirt made his complexion take on a coppery tone. The sterling silver and lapis choker on his neck emphasized this even more. Marlee thought that he looked like an ancient Aztec chief vacationing in modern day San Francisco.
“Marlee,” Luco called out. “You’re right on time.” He smiled and came out from behind the counter to welcome her.
“I just finished cleaning up and we’ll be…you look beautiful, if I may be allowed an observation.” He moved closer to her. “That turquoise is just perfect.” He reached out and lifted the blue teardrop from the pale skin just below her clavicle. Marlee felt the roughness of his fingertips, but was surprised by the gentleness of his touch.
Luco studied the pendant for a moment and, just as delicately, laid it back above Marlee’s heart. “It’s Mexican, I think. Very pretty, Marlee.” He turned toward the counter. “Hey, Zephyr, look at Marlee.”
Zephyr lifted her orange head from her accounting task at the register. Her eyes took the scenic route around Marlee’s body and then, lifting two fingers to her mouth, trilled an enthusiastic wolf whistle.
“That settles it, Marlee,” said Luco. “If Zephyr whistles, you are officially the best looking woman in the room.”
Marlee looked around and saw that she was one of only three women in the cafe. There was herself, Zephyr with her Magic Marker orange hair and Spider who looked like Darth Vader in drag. It wasn’t much, but she’d take it. “Thank you, Zephyr.”
In the kitchen the overhead lights were switched off and Pete, the owner of the People’s Cafe, turned off the neon window signs. Luco went into the office and returned in seconds, slipping into a chocolate brown soft leather coat.
Everyone was headed for the door.
Spider counted heads. “OK. Everybody who can cram into my van, get in. Leftovers: go with Pete. And just like always there is one ground rule for a party at my place: If you don’t dance, don’t take up space. Let’s go.”
They all piled into Spider’s shiny black van. The van had only one seat. The rest of the space was covered in thick, black carpeting. Zephyr scooted up next to Spider, a place of honor, while Marlee and everyone else found a bit of black space to claim.
Luckily, it was only a 15-minute drive from the cafe to Spider’s “Web” as she called it. During the ride, conversation was impossible. Spider had installed a stereo system that screamed out sound that could loosen your fillings and muss your hair. The music blasted out of 12 hidden speakers from the moment she turned the ignition key.
Marlee sat up straight against the wall, feeling the music in her spine as much as hearing it with her ears.
After a few blocks Marlee leaned over, tapping Zephyr on the shoulder. “What is this song? It sounds familiar.”
An electronic roar traveled from speaker to speaker. When it hit the one behind Marlee she laughed out loud. “That tickles!” No one heard her.
Zephyr moved over next to Marlee. “What did you say?” she asked, bouncing her head to the machine gun beat.
Marlee tried again. “I said, what in the world is this music? I feel like I’ve heard it before, but I can’t place it.”
Her head still chattering to the music, Zephyr put her mouth next to Marlee’s ear. “It’s the theme from the Flintstones. Great, ain’t it?” She gave Marlee a quick peck on the cheek before sliding back up to her spot next to Spider.
Luco crawled over next to Marlee. He was laughing. She was not. “Welcome to San Francisco” he shouted. Think nothing of it. She just thinks you’re cute.” Marlee’s head was picking up the beat. “And she’s right,” added Luco.
“What did you say? I just love this music,” she yelled to him. Luco looked at her, blinked and said, “’Cartoon Music.’ It’s called ‘Cartoon Music’.”
“Yeah, I’m catching on.” She pointed to the roof speakers as a bouncy riff made her giggle. “Speed Racer! I love it!” Luco nodded and went back to the other side of the van. He could feel a headache starting.
Spiders “Web” was a large flat in a three-plex near 25th Avenue, across from Golden Gate Park. She lived on the top floor with Zephyr and two other young women: “Bullet”, a militant vegetarian who worked in a fast food restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf and “Patrice” who was a legal secretary by day and an exotic dancer by night.
The party was already in full swing as Spider pulled her van into the driveway. This was a major event. All three floors were partying.
Spider turned to her passengers. “Listen up, especially any first-timers we have with us tonight.” She winked at Marlee. “This is my home. I live here. I have only one rule.” Her voice dropped half an octave. “Take no prisoners!”
Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued
Luco put his head down on the book, kissed it and closed his eyes. Outside his window he missed the flashes of pointed movement across the street. The growl of a turning diesel-powered bus covered the gargled scream of a 20-year-old addict from Apple Valley, New York.
The sound of Steve Perry’s soaring voice from the clock radio shook Marlee from a warm and dream-filled sleep.
“When the lights go down in the City, and the sun shines on the Bay. I want to be there in my City.”
It was a love song to San Francisco and after only a short time in the City, Marlee understood the infatuation.
San Francisco is a small city, only 49 square miles. As a result, the people living there strive to cram everything into and get everything out of the limited space. Any piece of vacant land will turn, overnight, into a garden or neighborhood farm. Rows of vegetables and flowers appear as if by magic.
The Victorian houses that line so many shady streets look like the work of finger painters run riot. Playful color combinations make the homes leap out to meet your eyes halfway. Yellow with magenta trim. Azure blue and fire engine red. Primary colors and subtle hues that come from a tropical plant’s dreams appear around every corner.
In this shirt pocket size city everything and everyone seems to be competing for attention. The peaks rise to outdo each other to get more sunlight. Hillsides, filled with narrow houses built on slivers of land, have steps instead of sidewalks. Streets twist and turn, inviting analogies that are doomed to fall short.
San Francisco is a city where, every May, 100,000 people dress up as buildings, bridges and sea serpents and run through the streets. They race from the busy shore of San Francisco Bay across the outlandish terrain to the Pacific Ocean at the western edge of the continent.
Hundreds of people race in the nude, braving the cold winds and the critical scrutiny of half a million eyes. They run knowing that in San Francisco their exhibitionism will be viewed with mild amusement rather than reproach.
The only thing about San Francisco that avoids excess is the climate. When the weather is warm and bright with skies too blue to imagine, the residents rush outside to take it in as fast as possible. They know that after 3 or 4 days of sunshine “The Fog” will come roaring in like a runaway train and cover everything with a speeding wall of salty white. It was this fog that greeted Marlee as she peeked outside her bedroom window.
When the clock radio roused her with Journey’s theme song for “The City”, Marlee sat on the edge of the bed, getting her bearings, preparing to start another day. She felt a misplaced chill. The floor was cold. The air had a familiar iciness, but for Cleveland in late autumn, not San Francisco in the spring.
Stumbling over to the window she poked two fingers through the white slats expecting to see the flowerbeds in Buena Vista Park. Instead of salvia and Golden California Poppies her eyes were met by solid gray. She pulled up the blind and wiped her hand across the glass. The fog was in and the world had disappeared.
The sun was struggling to make its presence known by the time Marlee had pulled herself together and headed up Haight Street. The fog was low over the tops of the buildings. The spires of the church up on the hill were invisible. So was the hill. Marlee felt like she was living inside a glass ball wrapped in a gray silk curtain. The horizon was a five minute walk away. It all made her a little depressed. Not quite a case of the blues, but just a bit out of balance.
Inside the People’s Cafe, however, the mood was almost like Christmas morning. Everyone was laughing and smiling, even the usually crabby customers. The bearded writer was grinning like a fool. He was normally quite morose this early in the day. Marlee wondered if today was some kind of local holiday.
“Marlee,” called Luco when he saw her standing there looking confused. “Good morning to you.”
The waitress called “Spider,” with her red dreadlocks, and young “Zephyr,” with a short, pink Pixie haircut and pierced eyebrows and even Armando the busboy, as if on cue, all called out, “Marlee!” The cook ran out from the kitchen waving his metal grill brush. “Marlee,” he yelled, turned around and hurried back to his duties.
Now totally lost, Marlee looked behind herself to see if another Marlee had walked in after her. It was confusing, but the boisterous greetings lifted her spirits and put a smile on her face.
Luco’s warm eyes welcomed Marlee as she walked up to the counter. “Are all you people psychics?” she said. “Did you know I was feeling kind of down? But all of you shouting my name sure took care of that.”
“Marlee, you may be new to Haight Street, but you’ve quickly become a member of our family.” His smile was genuine.
“Thank you, Luco, all of you. You sure know how to make a girl feel welcome.”
“We don’t let just anybody into our family, right John?”
The writer in the corner held up his bagel in salute. “Luco tells you true, Marlee. It took two years for them to even acknowledge my existence.”
“Spider” peeked over the glass pastry case. “Eat your bagel, John or I’ll withdraw my invitation to the party.”
“You need me there, Spider. Without me it’s just a party, but with me there it’s a celebration of life, a bacchanal.” Again, as if someone was giving cues, the entire crew shouted out, “Eat your bagel, John.”
The pink Pixie cut came up behind Luco, her hands on his hips. She weighed no more than ninety-five pounds. Looking around his tanned and muscular arm, Zephyr said, “Marlee, Spider is tossing a party and you have to come, as my guest.”
“Me? Why thank you.”
“I figured I better ask you because it looked like Ricky Ricardo here was too shy.” Zephyr slapped Luco on the rear and walked back into the kitchen to pick up an order.
Marlee looked at Luco and she could have sworn that he was blushing, just a little. Teasing him would have been fun, but she decided to let it pass. She was still too much a newcomer to get into that.
Luco was blushing. He didn’t like being teased in front of anyone, most of all a customer, and a pretty one at that.
“The party is this Saturday night at Spider’s place over on Fulton, near the Park.”
“Luco,” Marlee leaned close, “I’ve been meaning to ask you – “’Spider’? ‘Zephyr’? What’s with the crazy names?”
Luco leaned closer to Marlee. “Spider: her name is really Martha, but she prefers Spider. It has to do with the tattoo on her….” Marlee held up her hand, cutting him off.
“Spare me, Luco. I’m still too green for all the details of life in San Francisco.” It was her turn to blush.
“Fair enough, Marlee. We don’t want to scare you away. And Zephyr? That’s her real name. Her folks were a couple of old hippies. Go figure.
“Anyway, my dear, Spider’s bashes are the best. Not too weird, I promise. You’ll come to the party?”
“I’d love to, Luco. It’ll be good for me to get out and kick up my heels a bit.”
“That it will, Marlee. Be here at the cafe at midnight.”
Marlee wasn’t used to parties that started at midnight. Classical musicians aren’t known as party animals. Even in college, most of their parties were over by midnight. Tonight at Spider’s would be different and “different” was one reason Marlee was in San Francisco.
Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued
Luco Reyes played a central role in the vacation reveries of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of women, and of not a few men. He was their fantasy fling, their Latin Lover. Only in such fantasies do clichés seem reasonable.
For them, a night of passion nestled in the taut and muscular arms of the barista from San Francisco would be enough to eliminate the need for other souvenirs. The sound of his musical voice, warm in their ear, making promises that only he could keep, would let them forget the braying of their children – at least for a moment.
Snug in their minds with the memories and rueful second thoughts of these travelers, the dark-haired man with the gray eyes was someone they could carry with them. The facade of Luco Reyes was a conveniently portable orgasm.
When Luco left the counter at the People’s Cafe, Luco the fantasy lover stayed behind. Away from the levers and the steam jets, the reality of Luco Reyes walked up Haight Street alone.
He didn’t mind living above the bicycle shop. They weren’t yet open when he left for the cafe
and he returned home long after they were closed for the day.
The apartment was typical of many in The Haight. The rooms were small and narrow. They were designed for maximum comfort in the days before universal central heating. The layout made a lot of people feel that they were living in a railroad car.
Luco was satisfied with the apartment. It was close to work and across the street were the trees, lawns and lakes of Golden Gate Park.
He had five rooms from front to back, sharing the second level of the building with an identical suite occupied by a retired Filipino shipyard worker.
The bedroom at the back was quiet and cramped, almost filled by the Japanese futon and an old dresser. A full-length mirror was glued to the closet door. For a nightstand there was a small barrel that once held roofing nails. Now a clock radio and a boudoir lamp with a peach colored shade sat on its upturned end.
The bathroom was overdue for modernization with the old, but once again in vogue, pedestal sink and claw-foot tub. A medicine cabinet had been bolted to the green painted wall. It held only a straight razor and a can of shaving foam. On the sink was a single toothbrush propped up on a half-rolled tube of Colgate gel.
When he moved in five years before, Luco painted the kitchen walls a bright, daffodil yellow. Along with the white appliances and red oven mitts and dishtowel, the room was cheerful and inviting. It was the only redecorating he had done.
While it was rather whimsical in the kitchen, the dining room was strictly utilitarian.
The large table and four mismatched chairs were Goodwill retreads in need of refinishing.
On the floor under the table were boxes, taped shut with “Dining Room” block printed on the unbroken seals.
The overall impression was that most meals were eaten while standing at the stove.
The temporary feeling of the dining room was carried into the living Room. There were similarly neglected taped cartons along one wall.
A large sofa, covered in a tightly woven brown fabric, hugged the far wall. It had the look of something from a hotel lobby. On the wooden frame, hidden beneath the durable upholstery, was stenciled the word “Sheraton.”
In front of the large picture window overlooking the busy street below, was a gray metal desk. The kind you would find in millions of offices worldwide serving as the platform for commerce large and small. The matching chair was tucked, efficiently, in its place.
The apartment was…a place to live. It had only one thing about it that made it seem more like a “home.”
On the wall above the sofa was an oil painting of Mission Dolores – the original Spanish settlement in San Francisco, a whitewashed adobe surrounded by a riot of rhododendrons. The Mission bell, glinting its pear-shaped brass in the bright sun, stood outside the wrought iron gate, ready to call the faithful to God’s table.
The placement of the picture ensured that it was the first thing that Luco would see as he came up the stairs at night.
Down in the corner, near the frame, the artist’ name was neatly printed: Alicia Reyes.
It was after two in the morning and he still couldn’t sleep. He had to be ready to open up the People’s Cafe at 7 AM. It was getting close to that time when it would be better to just stay up and avoid sleep altogether.
Sleepless nights used to be the norm, but in the last few years, things had gotten better as the memories lost their freshness. Now they were back. Once again there were nights when his brain wouldn’t slow down. The scenarios playing double-time in his head – what might happen if I do this or that? What might have happened if I had done this or that? What if…everything.
Luco knew that replaying the dark days of his life wouldn’t solve anything. Those ghosts were, more or less, at peace. Staying up all night and working to exhaustion didn’t work then and it wouldn’t work now. He knew that.
He had found comfort in writing his poetry ever since his childhood in a crowded frame home near Mission Dolores.
In 1776, Father Junipero Serra created Mission Dolores, the sixth in his chain of twenty-one missions along the California coast. On a sunny bluff overlooking the icy waters of San Francisco Bay it dominated the landscape.
Almost 195 years later, to the day, Luco Reyes was born five minutes away from that same mission.
Over time the shoreline of the bay was filled in to accommodate a growing population. The water was lost to sight and, eventually, Mission Dolores became a tourist attraction. Luco moved to the foggy streets of The Haight and left the sunny Mission District behind, a remnant of another life.
Fewer than ten people in San Francisco knew why he had left the old neighborhood.
Looking at the wall clock and seeing the hands creeping up on four o’clock, Luco resigned himself to no sleep, followed by a long day of mixed up orders, incorrect change and a quiet sadness in his heart. There would be no charming repartee with smitten tourists today.
Instead of his usual bedtime cup of relaxing chamomile tea, he brewed himself a full pot of Irish Breakfast tea. It would be a better stimulant to get him through the rest of the night until he could pull a double espresso for himself at the cafe. Some days, caffeine was enough. Some other days it wasn’t, but you do what you can with what you have.
With a steaming cup and saucer in hand, he moved over to the small desk by his front window. Sitting in his chair he could look out over Stanyan Street and the entrance to Golden Gate Park. There was always someone out there, regardless of the time or the weather.
Luco pulled his spiral notebook from the desk drawer and opened it to a fresh, blank page. He avoided looking at it and took his time selecting a pen. The stark whiteness of the empty page was always a bit terrifying. Once he got the first few words down on paper he would relax and let the juices flow. At least that was his hope.
The sun and moon are dark.
Days are black and nights are
absent of any comforting glow.
They left the sky despite my pleas.
They took all life and promise of tomorrow.
With a desert in my life. Featureless, arid. I see no horizon.
Is this my fate? To walk without a path.
A vacant here, a solitary now? Traceless.
He looked at the page and closed the blue paper cover. One more page among a hundred, filled with the same sense of isolation and marrow-eating pain.
This morning when I crawled down to St. Arbucks for my daily transfusion I ran headlong into a newish word that I have been seeing but not bothering to learn or adopt.
My Barista was wearing a new name tag that read, “I’m your BAE.”
IT LOOKS LIKE ST. ARBUCKS HAS A BIG NEW ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY. From deep within the secret laboratories in Seattle 91825 comes something they are calling, “Blonde Espresso.”
I have no idea what that means.
I do know the meaning of “Blonde,” and I know what “Espresso” is, but I don’t understand the pairing of the two.
Blonde Espresso? Is that like “Jumbo Shrimp” or “Governmental Efficiency?” The two words clearly seem to contradict each other. I’m a bit “Profused” as opposed to being “Confused.”