I settled onto the barstool at my local favorite coffee shop, tossed my phone onto the bar, and fixed my eyes on the sign that offered me a little slice of holiday heaven with my caffeine: “Snowman Stories Told Here.”
So, naturally, I asked my purple-haired, tattooed, and heavily pierced 20-something barista if I could get a snowman story with my large Americano.
“So long as you’re okay with the abominable snowman.”
And just like that, I’m wiping that Americano from my nostrils.
She plays electric guitar in some kind of acid folk band of hers. I don’t know — I don’t ask these questions. (I just nod and pretend I understand certain things in life.) I may be going to her next show, not sure. She’s a quirky kid and we all need to support the quirky kids in life. But the directions involved an alley, a dimly lit parking lot, and a church basement of some kind.
First, well, a guy my age — let’s just say I need to make sure my insurance premiums are current before I go wandering into places like that these days. I mean, the other day somebody heard I was from Oregon and asked if I’ve ever been to Coos Bay. I thought a second. “I got thrown out of a redneck bar there once — does that count?”
Hey, it might be a hard lesson, but I have learned over the years that not everybody has the same appreciation for my sense of humor. Especially not crab fishermen after a month at sea.
Anyway, this barista of mine, she’s a good kid. Sharp as hell — and her wit is of the straight-razor variety.
So there I am sitting at that same counter of the coffee shop again this past Sunday, feasting on my cinnamon roll, washing it down with my hot, fresh Americano, and scrolling my phone when “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” starts playing over the loudspeakers. (It’s early and it’s slow — pretty sure I’m the only one in the place. One of the things they don’t tell you about 52 is you sometimes just wake up at 4:30 a.m. for no good reason at all.)
Her, leaning onto the counter with one elbow, a la Sam Malone in Cheers: “What’s troubling you, my good man?”
Me: “I was hoping I’d heard the last of that song about 30 years ago.”
Her: “Who is it, even?” <begins to Google it>
Me: “Bobby McFerrin.”
Her: <setting her phone back down> “Ah, so you DO know that song. I’m sorry.”
Me: “Yeah, it’s really getting in the way of my plans today, all that worry-free happy shit.”
Me: “Yep, gonna have to move my schedule around if he doesn’t shut up soon.”
Her: “Cancelling the torturing of the orphans at 10, are we?”
That’s about the time some of that hot, fresh Americano was dripping out of my hot, fresh nose again.
This place needs to sell bibs with its coffee.
Now, I’d like to say I had a witty retort, but c’mon. Who can compete with that?
In fact, I may need to go back to the simpler times of getting my frat-boy ass kicked by the temperamental, ill-humored crab fishermen of Coos Bay.