Can I have some?
Today I paid five bucks for a cup of joe at a discreet and cool industrial-looking coffee house, down in the Arts District. Not some soda-sized caramel macchiato whipped cream extravaganza from Starbucks, just a plain cup of coffee in the type of cup they used to set in front of you at Denny’s at 3AM in the middle of an all-nighter. Five bucks.
‘It’ll be six or seven minutes to prepare. We need to whip the almond milk.’
I’m in no position to pay that kind of money for anything which fits in the palm of my hand. This is my second consecutive Christmas of ‘oh, let’s at least have a tree.’ I service my debts….and I do so honorably. Beyond that, my fiscal horizons are brutish and short. It’s no way to be living at this point in my life. So on Small Business Saturday, if I’m not going to be able to afford to window shop, we can put some miles on the Skechers and take in the city a bit. Start in Echo Park and work our way down east of Alameda. My day began with a
re-habbing jury-rigging of the kitchen door with mismatched brackets I had dug out of a box of old construction materials. A shameless piece of hack work I didn’t even attempt to conceal with paint, which succeeded in keeping the stiles and rails connected and allowed for the door to swing shut for another winter. We watched Searching for Sugarman last night, so I was both in a poetic and appreciative frame of mind. I did what I usually do when I’m in that state: I left the Valley.
So out came the coffee. My almond-whipped, individually prepared, fair-trade, put my feet out after a long week and savor the moment premium cassis.
Imagine a rusty freighter hijacked by Somali pirates. Now imagine a cast iron bucket at the bottom of the hold the hostages are forced to use as a piss pot during their captivity. Then imagine that cast iron bucket being purchased on eBay by some fancypants collector of conflict memorabilia, which through a comedy of errors is mis-routed to Los Angeles where a hipster doofus decides to re-purpose it as a coffee pot. For authenticity’s sake. Old camp stove coffee. Almond-whipped. And all those rich, brine-y flavors working their way into the foam….
Mrs. Upinthevalley, determined.
‘We’re finishing it,’ my wife announced, reading my mind, but setting down the cup with a grimace.
I went back inside for some sugar. A lot of sugar, which appeared to offend the staff behind the counter.
‘The cup is nice,’ she offered optimistically. ‘I like cupping a warm cup in my hands. It almost makes the coffee taste better. or would if it were better coffee.”
Maybe we just don’t have the proper palate, we decided. It can’t be as bad as it seems.
Until we sipped a little more.
We let Giles lick the foam off the spoon, which he did without complaint. We considered the five bucks a sidewalk rental, and made the best of it. Slowly, steadily, working as a team, we drained the cup. Hell if we’re going to waste five bucks on anything.
On the walk back to the car, she posed for an album cover. I thought: how could anyone look this good after 15 years of marriage?
Schoolteacher as seraphic singer-songwriter
She can. Yeah, we’re gonna finish this, too. I got all the sugar I need.