Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Coffee”

Read This Before Anyone Else

 

MY LINGUISTIC SKILLS ARE FALLING OUT OF DATE. New words are popping up all of the time and I am just not keeping current. Zounds!

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.”

BAE?

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued – Part Four

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued – Part Four

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

Haight Street

by

John Kraft

Marlee chose the opposite side of the street for her return trip down Haight Street. She saw chilly tourists renting inline skates and bicycles for a high-speed zip through the Park. She resisted the barker’s pitch, from a chubby girl dressed in black, to step into “Cold Steel” for a piercing of the soft tissue of her choice. The list of possible sites made Marlee feel very “Ohio.”

“It must be a California thing,” she thought.

Seeing the bounteous display of produce at the Haight Street Grocer for the second time, she couldn’t resist the huge Navel oranges or the pencil thin fresh asparagus. It would be perfect with her Eggs Benedict for Sunday’s meal with Dennis Thayer. After all, she did promise him a brunch.

Even though she was just a block from home, she decided to stop for a cool drink. She didn’t

want this excursion to end.

“The People’s Cafe”, near the corner at Masonic Street, was large and airy, with tall sliding windows that made it an inviting oasis and a prime location for idle time people watching.

Marlee looked over the large menu board mounted high on the wall behind the sparkling display case that teemed with decadent pastries.

The cafe was only half full this time of day. The tables were populated mainly with locals, sipping coffee and chatting. Off in the far corner sat one bearded neighborhood denizen, madly scribbling another novel that no one would ever read. It was almost the cliché of a San Francisco Coffee House.

“And what can I get for you today?”

Marlee lowered her gaze from the menu and into a pair of gentle gray eyes that sparkled like dusty diamonds.

“What would you like?”

“Oh, something cool and refreshing, I think.”

He smiled and his words came to her ears with an almost lyric quality wrapped in a warm baritone.

“Ah, there’s nothing better after a morning in the cosmic heat of The Haight.”

Small lines formed at the corners of his eyes. His lashes made her think of a dozing cat. She noticed a small cleft in his chin and wondered if it made it hard for him to shave in the morning.

“I’ll tell you what, you have a seat and I’ll bring you something that will cool the fire on your brow and fuel the passion in your heart.”

She found a table by the window, but instead of watching the passing parade she found herself staring at the barista with the beautiful eyes.

“He is delicious, isn’t he?”

“Excuse me?” said Marlee. The interrupting voice broke her trance. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

Sitting at a nearby table was a woman who had been pretty ten years ago.

“Luco – He’s gorgeous, isn’t he? But put your tongue back in your mouth, Dearie. He may flirt with you and whisper slivers of his poetry in your ear, but he’s not a man for the long haul. Trust me. I know.”

“I’m sorry, but what are you talking about?” People in Cleveland didn’t just talk to strangers like this.

“She’s saying that she’s upset because I never asked her to spend a month making love on the beach in Baja. Am I right, Marjorie?” The barista wiggled a finger in reprimand as he smiled tenderly at the woman. She deflated under his gaze. Obviously, she still carried around a long-term, and unextinguished, torch.

Marlee looked up into the smooth face of the man with the gigawatt smile. He had a large pastel blue cup and saucer in his hand.

“May I join you for a moment? I made this for you. It’s my personal favorite – espresso, steamed milk with a shot of amaretto, and a single clove, for luck.”

He didn’t wait for her answer as he slid into the empty chair across the table from Marlee.

This warm spot of male light was Luco Reyes, a 15th generation Californian. His family had come to the New World with the first wave of Spanish explorers. He reflected the lineage of the Grandees along with the gifts of other visitors to the Pacific coast, including the Imperial Russian Dynasty.

Just shy of six feet tall, he wore his jet-black hair cut short for convenience. He was not a man who fussed over his looks. He was the man who was there in the mirror the first thing in the morning.

His face was lightly tanned; a healthy glow laid on a complexion the color of tea with just a touch or two of cream.

Luco Reyes kept himself physically fit, but not like a 7-day-a-week gym jockey. Underneath his chambray shirt he had the spring-loaded muscularity of a Middleweight boxer. His body answered with the fast reflexes and easy confidence that didn’t require “muscle shirts” to advertise their presence.

He had the quick wit and romantic heart of the poet that he was. He wrote at night in his flat on Stanyan Street above the bicycle shop. From his windows he had a view of the entrance to Golden Gate Park and the playground and carousel beyond. His poems were long and dynamic, with sensuous imagery and a desperate sadness.

At the cafe he flirted shamelessly and fell in lust hourly, but rarely let it go further than a wink, a smile and the occasional nibble on a very willing earlobe.

As Marlee had just discovered and the woman in the corner could not let loose of: one simple flex of his shoulders or a smiling moment in his focus and you knew that this was a man who could make your eyes roll back in your head and let you forget to go home and feed the cat.

“I hope you like it.”

“Oh, I’m sure that I will. It smells wonderful. Thank you.”

“Please, call me Luco and welcome to the neighborhood. I hope you stay here a long time.”

“How did you know that I’m new here? Does Cleveland show that readily?”

“Not really, but tourists don’t buy asparagus for souvenirs and I’ve never seen you in here before. I would remember you.”

Marlee took a sip of the coffee. It was delicious with an exotic overtone that invigorated her and yet relaxed the tight muscles in her neck. It was her new favorite thing in San Francisco.

Luco looked back at the counter area. Customers were beginning to get impatient.

“I have to get back to work, but stay and enjoy the coffee, my treat.” He started to get up. He smelled of cinnamon.

“Thank you very much…Luco.”

“For you…always, my pale beauty.” He slipped away from the table leaving Marlee to wonder if the warm glow she was feeling was from the shot of amaretto or from the new man who had obviously just entered her life.

“I warned you, Dearie. He’s inside you now. You’re hooked. You didn’t notice that he never asked you for your name, did you? He never will.”

Marlee tuned out the hopelessly desperate woman in the corner. She sipped her coffee and forced herself to look at the strangers passing by outside the open window.

“No Shirt, No Shoes, No Plastic – No Service.”

 

FOLLOWING UP ON THAT BLOGPOST OF A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO…

I heard an interesting bit of semi-news, semi-advertising this morning. On the morning news it was awkwardly disguised as a Business Report.

The heavily caffeinated executives in Seattle have announced that Starbucks (St. Arbucks to you and me) is going to convert one of its stores in the Great Northwest into a “Cashless Store.” What they mean by that is that all transactions will be handled by credits and debits – no green pieces of paper will change hands –unless they are advertisements or Hold Up Notes.

When I was growing up a “Cashless Store” was one that was going out of business.

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It Is What It is

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.”

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Get Me Out Of Jail

MY MIND IS IN JAIL. At least that is how it feels. Right now, with one cataract gone and one still to be dealt with, I have two totally different eyes with totally different focus points and even totally different color perceptions. That all makes reading very difficult.

Taking away my ability to pick up a book or my Kindle and comfortably read is like lashing me to a chair, putting a paper bag over my head, and closing all the drapes. The World has disappeared.

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Wrapping Up The Holidays.

 

   TO PARAPHRASE DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, “We have returned”…from Texas that is, and we are now going to reconquer Terre Haute (That’s French for “Hey! This ain’t the Philippines.”).

Christmas and New Years in South Texas (Sinton – Population about 5500) should be relatively warm – mid 70s or so, but not this year. There were days in the 30s and 40s and always damp. It felt like we were living inside a Styrofoam beer cooler. Then we had to return to Indiana to be greeted with minus 9° degrees. I haven’t been warm since July.

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Here We Go Again

 

WELCOME TO THE NEW YEAR. We made it. We have survived 2017 – a year filled with many good and wonderful things and a few that should make us all ashamed.

Now that we are alive and over the hump of the Holiday Season I hope that we are all determined to make this year one to remember with smiles and not cringes. That’s my hope anyway. I’m going to try to do my part.

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Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “What Is That Smell?”

 

 

Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “What Is That Smell?”

 

toxic AvengerI’M A PRETTY EASY GOING GUY – at least I try to be. I’m a firm believer in a “Live and Let Live” approach to life. That said, there are some people I want to take outside and pound the living crap out of.

The one who comes to mind is a complete stranger.

As you have already figured out, if you have followed this blog for more than a week or two – I start off too many days down the street at St. Arbucks having my morning coffee. I look upon that time as precious to me. It is a time for me to creep, unassailed, into the day. Recently my time for quiet reflection and contemplative folderol has been attacked by one particular yutz.

The Yutz of whom I speak comes into the sacred Chapel of St. Arbucks carrying with him a toxic cloud of the “Cologne From Hell.” I thought things like that had been outlawed decades ago by The Geneva Convention, along with Mustard Gas and Chlorine Gas.

When he comes through the door my eyes begin to water, my lungs burn and my chromosomes start to reshuffle the genetic deck.

I cannot imagine that he thinks that his choice of Cologne actually smells good. Birds fall from the sky when he passes. Kittens are born with extra paws. Cacti curl up and die.

One day he passed within mere feet of where I was sitting and, I swear, his vapor trail changed the prescription on my glasses.

After he leaves with his coffee I have seen people crawl to the door on the opposite side of the building, gasping for air like a Carp that has been left on the shore for 20 minutes. It is not pretty.

Where does he buy this cologne? I think it is called “Eau de Beelzebub.” I’m sure that I have never seen it displayed in any store with one of those little free sampler bottles. One spritz of that and the store would call in a Haz-Mat team. He must get it online from somewhere in North Korea. No friendly nation would ever send it across our borders.

I’d wager that this walking Zone of Death must live and work alone. Who would ever, in a million years, move in with him, let alone work with him? All I can think of is that he must live under a bridge somewhere near the sewage treatment plant and work as a telephone solicitor.

At the beginning I said that I wanted to take him outside and throttle him – that is not true. I have a life that I would not want to jeopardize by possibly making actual physical contact with him. Getting too close or, Heaven forbid, actually touching the skin that has been toxified by his cologne must be the equivalent of stuffing a thousand pounds of nuclear waste in your trousers and then rolling around in a wading pool filled with Mountain Dew.

Like I said, I’m a gentle soul and easy going guy, but whenever I see that guy coming I want to call in an airstrike.

Someone told me that I should say something to him about the…stench is too mild a word…the…Instant Gag Reflex Trigger, tell him that it is a bit strong. I would be willing to do that if I didn’t already know that, in close proximity to him, I lose the ability to speak. All I can manage are incoherent squeals and glottal spasms.

Being the peaceful person that I am I have, so far, resisted the effort being made by some others to raid the “tip jar” and hire a hitman.

All I can say is that this fellow is becoming the Johnny Appleseed of Civil Unrest and Coffee-Loving Vigilantism. Pray for us.toxic cloud

When All Else Fails…

 

OK! OK! I KNOW WHAT THE DIRECTIONS SAY. I should always eat something when I’m taking my meds. On most morning my iced coffee is enough to buffer the effects of my handful of pills, but things have changed. I’ve started taking something new, on Doctor’s orders, and the game has changed.

My new Doctor has changed my medload and my body has yet to adjust to the altered chemistry in my tummy. When I take the new drug I have to eat something more than coffee or my gastrointestinal tract begins to re-enact the Charge of the Light Brigade.

“Half a league, Half a league, Half a league onward! Into the Valley of Death rode The Six Hundred.

“Cannon to the right of them. Cannon to the left of them. Into the Jaws of Death, into the Mouth of Hell rode The Six Hundred.”

Get the picture?

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Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 “$65K A Month Should Be Enough”

melanie 1

OVER COFFEE I SCANNED THE CELEBRITY NEWS to see if Ihad been nominated for something – nothing again this year.

Failing to score any Oscar or Golden Globe nominations I shifted my focus over to the “Splitsville” column where I learned that Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are divorcing. Que Lastima!

In La-La Land this Splitsville stuff is a big money world.

With the Miss Melanie and “Zorro” Banderas rupture the dollar amounts got my attention. It seems that Antonio agreed to a settlement whereby Melanie gets 65K PER MONTH for living expenses.

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A View From The Corner

 

WHO NEEDS TELEVISION? Who needs movies? Who needs any form of traditional entertainment when you’ve got people walking around? Every day, free of charge, there is a non-stop parade of the Human Animal passing by in all its variety. I almost said, “Passing by in all its Glory,” but Glory is rare in humanity. Variety is a better word to describe the people I see every day.

People Watching is more fun than Movies or TV. With the actors on the screen, who are always good looking and mouthing someone else’s words, they are following a Director’s commands. Their moves are predictable and rarely surprising. However, the folks wandering in front of my astigmatic eyeballs are anything but predictable and continue to surprise me on a daily basis.

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Fiction Saturday — “Boxer” — Part Two

 

Boxer  —  Part Two

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

 

“You’re either at the table or on the menu.”  —  Al Capone

 

And that was where Mike Walker came in. He was a fan of The Sweet Science.  He’d liked watching Terry fight because he knew it wasn’t just “entertainment.” He respected Terry’s work as a boxer and rewarded him by throwing some jobs his way. Mike Walker had a “Private Security” business. He was an ex-cop, a bad one, who did background checks, provided an extra pair of eyes for shopkeepers when inventories grew legs, and he collected overdue debts. Terry Jarosz entered the picture when payments got slippery.

 With ninety-five out of a hundred people who missed a payment or two it was just one look at Terry and wallets opened up. With the other five per cent – they got stupid before their money finally came across the desk. Stupid is what sent Terry to see Doc. Doc never charged Terry for helping him. He knew that The Rules were never fair for either of them.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – There Is Music In The Air

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – 

Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Angry gifMY OFFICE IS CROWDED TODAY. Of course, “my office,” also doubles as a corner table in the Starbucks a few blocks from home. I can usually shut out the hubbub and foot traffic around me, but today, for some reason, it is all getting on my nerves.

Most of the people in here at this time of day are college students. This location sits almost exactly halfway between two schools. On most days they have their noses deeply buried in either textbooks or computers, but not today. Today must be a day after they have gotten their grades or test scores back. It sounds like they all did well.

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Trust Me, I’m A Doctor

SOME MORNINGS WHEN I CAN’T GET my regular seat in the corner at St. Arbucks (Cursed interlopers!) I am forced by circumstances to plop down next to a group of early morning Geezers and Geezerettes. They are nice enough folks but I’m not isolated enough to do my writing uninterrupted.

A couple of that group are in the medical field and work at a nearby hospital. When they start chatting about things medical I can’t help but eavesdrop, big time. As a result I have picked up little bits and pieces of information about obscure medical conditions – and you know what they say about little bits of knowledge. I am now, officially, a dangerous man. I now feel qualified to make snap diagnoses on everyone who walks through the door.

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Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 – I Told You This Was A Bad Idea

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 

I Told You This Was A Bad Idea

20151028_135610WELL, I NEVER THOUGHT THEY COULD PULL IT OFF. I was right. Today was the day at St. Arbucks when the baristas were planning to dress up as the customers. It was supposed to be a real laugh riot. It wasn’t.

First of all, I never expected The Boss to give her imprimature on the whole idea. “Dress up like the customers? I don’t think that is a good idea.” But she did give it her OK. Something I’ll bet she now regrets.

I thought that it would be a bad idea because there are some customers around here who are just a tiny step away from an extended visit to the Thorazine Hotel, and seeing someone looking like them staring back at them from across the counter might be enough to push them over the edge.

I now know that I shouldn’t have worried about that because, as they say in the closing credits of most movies, – “Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.”

When I walked into the Chapel earlier this morning I was met by one of the crew wearing a tee-shirt and blue jeans and sporting what was planned to look like a white moustache. The moustache was painted on. I didn’t say anything because, at first look, I was concerned that the white stuff on her upper lip was some kind of medication.

Did she burn her upper lip? If so, how? Perhaps I shouldn’t ask. She might be sensitive about it, being so obvious.

It never occurred to me that it was part of a costume meant to look like one of the Drive-Thru customers. My bad. When I asked The Boss about it she told me that she thought it looked like an application of “Nair” –  there in an effort to get rid of the gal’s real moustache. Ouch.

It was several minutes later when one of the other members of the crew began to berate me.

“You’re not wearing a Hawaiian shirt!” she snarled at me.

“It’s 50 degrees out there and raining – of course I’m not wearing a Hawaiian shirt.”

That was when I was finally informed that today was “Customer Costume Day” at St. Arbucks. You could have fooled me, and they did, I guess.

As far as I am concerned it all looked more like, “We All Dressed in the Dark Day” at St. Arbucks. Is how they have dressed today what they think we, the customers, really look like?  I’ve always felt that I have a bit of dash and flair in my wardrobe, and not like I’ve been Dumpster Diving after a nice three-week camping trip in the City Park fighting with the squirrels over loose chestnuts.

So far today the barista who is allegedly dressing like me has not shown up for work. At least I don’t think so. I see no Hawaiian shirts, no baseball caps, no remarkably outstanding example of Machismo and Adonis-like good looks.

I won’t be surprised if the “other me” doesn’t show up. After all, who wants to go out in a cold, rainy, blustery day while trying to maintain a persona like mine? I have enough trouble keeping the Original together. I just can’t envision some amateur trying to do it.

Uh-Oh, she just showed up. This is one brave girl. She dresses impeccably, as you can tell. The only problem is – she is so slim that she makes me look like The Hindenburg. For those of you under fifty – look it up.

Next year I will suggest that the crew at St. Arbucks all dress up like The Boss. I think that would be fun – if The Boss doesn’t fire them all, that is. If she does fire them all, then it was a bad idea and I will disclaim any knowledge of it.

I, The Jury

EARLY THIS MORNING I WAS QUIETLY SLUMPED OVER MY COFFEE when I overheard a conversation from the next table. It seems that one of the men sitting there had been called for Jury Duty. My ears began to twitch and I inched a little closer.

The gentleman said that he reported to the County Courthouse the day before anxious and willing to do his civic duty. Apparently that was when things began to fall apart.

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There Are Questions That I Cannot Answer

ONE OF MY MORNING RITUALS, AFTER SAYING “THANK YOU,” putting on my socks, etc. is to check my email. Most mornings I get about 20 new messages from around the globe. Some are trying to sell me something, some are unleashing thunderbolts of wisdom that have been common knowledge since the 14th century, and some are asking me questions. Some of the questions are philosophical, some are more “religious,” and the rest are in reference to the blog and are your basic “What in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks are you talking about?”

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I Must Put My Foot Down

YOU’D THINK I WOULD HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON BY NOW, but i did it to myself again this morning. I should wait until after my morning coffee before logging into Facebook. And maybe something to eat as well.

It was barely 6:30 AM when I turned on my computer and hit the Facebook icon – and there it was. Some strange person, a friend of a friend of a friend I assume, posted that one of his favorite foods was a Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich.

Good God, man! It was not even sunup and you’ve gone and ruined my gastrointestinal tract for the entire day.

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Howard Schultz

A FEW DAYS AGO I WROTE ABOUT A YOUNG CAT that showed up outside of the nearby St. Arbucks (Starbucks to most people.). That little cutie pie is no more than 4 to 6 months old and a ball of yellow/orange fur.

Well…it’s still there.and has been unofficially adopted by the customers and staff. This cat has stumbled into a good thing.

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