It didn’t work out that way.
I should have known that things weren’t going to work out for me.
THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY INTERRUPTIONS!
This morning I slid into my usual writing/coffee slurping position at a little ahead of the Big Hand telling me it was 6 AM and before I could take a sip the parade of characters began.
The usual early morning collection of non-entities was not meeting today. Some were out of town. Some were out of their minds and some were out on a limb somewhere. The leftovers decided to come and visit with me “for just a minute or two.” An hour later I have been made privy to their life story and their plans for the weekend.
I don’t care.
NOW…I’M NOT A FUSSY PERSON who lets every little thing get under my skin and bother me… (Pregnant Pause)…OK, that’s not true. I am a fussy person and I do get all worked up by the little things that most people wouldn’t even think twice about. Truthfully, I’m still growling about not getting to see the “Tall Ships” that toured the Great Lakes during the Bicentennial Celebrations. That was in 1976 and I’m still miffed.
I try to keep that under cover and under control because no one wants to see me grumbling and muttering about something the world regards as trivial, but that I hold to be the key to the survival of Western Civilization.
THERE ARE SOME MORNINGS when I really don’t mind that there is no one around to talk with over coffee. The quiet helps me to sneak up on the day without having to think or be “Sociable.” I don’t know if I would like every day to be like that. I don’t think that I would make a good Hermit.
Most mornings when I go out for coffee there is a constant flow, sometimes a deluge, of people who want to talk to me. Some of them are like me at that time and can do little more than grunt. The two of us grunting back and forth must confuse and disturb those people seated nearby.
Others who try to engage me have long orations of opinion that they feel the need to drop on me. I try to ignore them. They don’t notice my lack of focus. They are busy listening to themselves. When they stop to take a breath is when I leap into the breach. I speak up and change the subject on them. I switch it to something, anything, more benign. If their rant is about politics I will start talking about baseball or the need for remedial driver training classes. That early in my day I really don’t care about either subject. I’m just trying to shut them up.
WHO SAID THAT TERRE HAUTE (THAT’S FRENCH FOR, “THERE’S ROOM FOR DANCING!”) is just another small town? Well…actually it was me once or twice. Truthfully, compared to some other places where I have hung my hat, it is rather small – about 60,000 humans and 12 million raccoons and squirrels.
It may be a “small” town, but it is crawling into the higher ranks one stumbling step at a time.
The latest positive move that is elevating this Metropolis on the Wabash (Not counting the resumption of lethal injections at the Federal Prison Death Row) is the grand opening of Starbucks Store #5. Five Chapels of St. Arbucks in a town of 60,000 people ain’t bad. That comes to one store for every twelve thousand bipedal Hautians. That is pretty good…except when all 12 thousand show up at the same time when I’m trying to find a parking space.
SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE! This is just getting out of hand! I’m putting my foot down! Both of them even…otherwise I might fall over and doing that in public makes it hard for me to be taken seriously.
What has me worked up into such a lather? It is The Usual Suspects.
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.
During the summertime when the schools are out, St Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.
It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.
These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.
When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.
As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”
Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?
It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.
At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.
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.
SOME DAYS NOTHING MAKES SENSE.
Why is that? This morning has been one of those days. Everything has been a series of nonsequiters come to life. Imagine letting a six year old edit the film of a motion picture. There would be some serious and confusing jump cuts. That is what today has been so far.
This morning I slept in a bit – causing me to get to the Chapel at St. Arbucks a few minutes later than usual. That must have been when the crazy body doubles were sneaked in.
Most days I have it under tight control. Other days – not so tight.
A lifetime of experience and a number of years when I got paid to be a (Fill in the blank) has taught me that if I’m not fully awake, not feeling well, or someone goes “Boo!” and surprises me, my brain and mouth tend to go off on their own to play. When that happens all bets are off and I’m as upset as anybody else at what happens next.
This morning is a perfect example. I apologize in advance and in retrospect.
It was early, I was still a bit groggy, and my back hurt. This is a dangerous combination. It is comparable to taking part in a Pogo Stick Race while carrying a Thermos filled with Nitroglycerine. Cover your ears and keep your head low.
I had just stumbled into St. Arbucks in desperate need of coffee. I was seated in the corner, minding my own business. I had my Morning Blood Pressure Meds spread out on a Kleenex. My iced coffee was at the ready. It was an idyllic scene at 7:30 AM.
A sip of coffee and my Fish Oil was down my gullet. Another sip – another pill.
I ask you – is that any way to start a conversation? With me? At 7:30 in the morning? Before I’ve had all of my coffee?
Without missing a beat the few brain cells that were awake kicked into Defensive/Offensive Mode. I looked up at her. I smiled. I spoke.
“No, they’re not for cancer. They’re to try to control my unpredictable and violent outbursts that happen when strangers walk up to me in public and ask questions. Do I know you?”
She backed up and exited the store.
I consider my reply to fall into the category of a “Public Service Announcement.” I hope she heard it clearly and will think twice in the future before acting like such a dummy.
What if I had been taking a buffet of meds for cancer? Is that her business – or anybody’s business for that matter?
What a yutz.
Most people who know me find me to be a gentle, even kittycat-like, with my playful and loving demeanor. I may jump around and make noise on occasion, but I don’t claw at the sofa and I am housebroken. All I ask is – please don’t sneak up on me with dumb questions at 7:30 in the morning. Later in the day I can deal with stuff like that in a more civil manner, but anyone who does it before I’ve had my coffee is pushing their luck.
We now return to our regularly scheduled program – in progress.
THAT SOUND YOU HEAR ECHOING ACROSS THE MAP IS MY BRAIN EXPLODING. It takes a lot to detonate my brain. The last time it happened was when someone told me that Pauley Shore was still making movies…or was it Ben Stiller… or was it Adam Sandler? I get them all mixed up. They are all…Oh, I don’t want to think about it.
What caused my brain to go Karakatoa on me this morning was the continued renovation of the center of my world aka St. Arbucks. The midnight raiders from the Seattle headquarters were in again last night and I consider their activity as Vandalism.
OH, MY GOD! WILL THIS NEVER END?
Every night they sneak in after closing and put new…new…new stuff in place. The Elves from the Great Northwest tippy-toe in and while we are sleeping in our Snuggies they install a collection of items like this large picture of a jungle scene. It is reminiscent of an apartment I had once which also had a variety of wildlife. Personally, it’s not my taste in artwork. I’ve never been a fan of Finger Painting.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…
The rumor is that tomorrow the nabobs in Seattle will be shipping in a truckload of individual trampolines to help people get out of the congestion during busy times at St. Arbucks.
Either that or they might install those little metal spikes that you see on buildings to keep pigeons from roosting.
I trundled into the Chapel of St. Arbucks this morning and I could tell that the little elves from Washington State had been in overnight and they were busy. Gone was the row of chairs along the front of the store and in their place was a long bench unit. The seat was technically padded, but the padding was more “suggested” than real. Just think of your favorite Hollywood Starlet – looking soft and comfortable, but you know that it’s not real but “enhanced.”
OH, NO! IT HAS STARTED!
The prophesied remodeling of the St. Arbucks Chapel has begun. I pulled the Toyota into my favorite gimp spot and through the window I could see…nothing. Something was drastically wrong. All of the Art was gone from the walls. The furniture I had come to know and tolerate was gone – replaced with what looked like leftovers from a combination nursery school/maximum security prison. The comfortable easy chairs that nurtured the butts of the early morning geezers are gone! In their place are two low slung chairs that look like they came from the waiting room of a Psychiatrist who only treated midgets.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE, AND I ADMIT DANGEROUS, HABITS IS EAVESDROPPING. I prefer to call it “Active Listening.” A number of other people call it “Snooping.” I think that sounds a mite nefarious and it makes me appear like an auditory Peeping Tom.
When I say that I eavesdrop I must assure you that 99% of it is passive. I sit there and the words come to me. I don’t have microphones and I don’t lean over or move close to others to pick up what is being said. My ears work – what can I say?
In the midst of the chaos and insanity I see around me on a daily basis, this morning I saw two things that filled my morning with beauty and comfort.
As I drove toward St. Arbucks this morning in the blue light of dawn I could see, dominating the western sky, a Full Moon. There were just a few high and wispy clouds leaving the Full Moon to light up the sky unfettered.
I admit that either possibility is, at minimum, plausible.
They (The ubiquitous “They”) say that Time is a fluid thing and that the very concept of Time Travel is no longer the property of Science Fiction writers. OK, I can accept that, but I just don’t expect it to happen while I’m quietly trying to have a cup of coffee.
Twice in the last month while I was concentrating on getting my plastic straw through the lid on my iced coffee my world was intruded upon by the 1950s and then the 1960s. I’ve been through those decades before so I recognized them immediately.
YOU SEE SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY. AT LEAST I DO. It may be something that millions of other people see each and every day, but it’s new to me. It is kind of like the first person who was hungry enough to eat a clam. They looked at that clam, heard their stomach growl, and decided that for the first time in human history that a clam could be food. OK, maybe it’s not exactly like that, but it is close enough for my purposes.
Last week I was, where else, slurping up my morning coffee at St. Arbucks when I saw something I had never seen before. I found it appropriate that it took place in the religious environment of St. Arbucks.
TALK ABOUT PAINTING YOURSELF INTO A CORNER…Whew!
This morning (a few days before Valentine’s Day) I was stumbling into St. Arbucks for a transfusion with a little Half-n-Half when I saw a poster advertising a weekend concert. Whoever put it up was careless and posted it sideways on the bulletin board. The concert featured a singer doing a Frank Sinatra Tribute Show.
That singer is a performer whose Show Business career is firmly rooted in “The Law of Diminishing Returns.”
HABITS – THEY ARE LIKE QUICKSAND. Once you find yourself mired in them it can be difficult to get out. Yeah, quicksand, or contracts with a cell phone company or a relationship with someone who sucks the life out of you and eats crackers in bed.
Not all habits are that dramatic. Most habits just kind of sneak up on you and you are perfectly comfortable with them – until someone or something comes along to break into the usual pattern of everyday life.
I had such an intrusion into my life this morning. Nothing big, mind you, or earthshaking, but, darn it – it made me alter my routine – and I like my routine.