Coffee Log, Day 219


Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; I took a Saturday shift and got coffee on the way to work. It was a half-day, four hours, the coffee lasted two.

I served drinks at a friend’s wedding reception. I was behind the bar the whole night. I knew three people. I recommended wines for cake and vegan finger foods. I was mostly making it up, but people seemed to like it. Half of any front-facing job is knowing how to seem like you know it. Tonight reminded me of my years working as a barista.

One guy ordered Michelob Ultra and asked if I knew any jokes. I said I didn’t, but I’d trade him the beer for one of his own. He went long with the punchline, got cut off two times, but laughed a lot so I laughed with him. He was related to the groom through who-knows-what and I liked him. We talked a few more times. As the night went on, I drank a few beers. I told better jokes after.

A couple of aunts and uncles ripped it up on the dance floor. In between dances, they told stories about their kids. We talked about University politics and getting old. Her order was a Riesling, his a Michelob Ultra.

I spent a long time talking with two friends about anything. It was nice to give them drinks, nice to serve them. You don’t know somebody until you’ve got your arms and legs tied to their convenience. A person’s true colors are painted on the people who work for them.

At the end of the night, I talked History with a Daughter of the Confederacy. She was older, once a teacher, I told her my grandmother’s mother had been a member too. The first thing she said when those words came out of her mouth was: “Not for the race, of course, but for history.” Later, she told me about a time her ankle was torn and one of her students administered the physical therapy. She oozed a good soul. We hugged. ‘History’ and ‘race’ are inseparable to a Southerner. Sin is subtle. But for every sin there’s a proud woman who’s put good thoughts into generations of kids’ heads. Life is complicated. I poured her half a bottle of Moscato by the end of the night.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“A kind of joyous hysteria moved into the room, everything flying before the wind, vehicles outside getting dented to hell, the crowd sweaty and the smells of aftershave, manure, clothes dried on the line, your money’s worth of perfume, smoke, booze; the music subdued by the shout and babble through the bass hammer could be felt through the soles of the feet, shooting up the channels of legs to the body fork, center of everything. It is the kind of Saturday night that torches your life for a few hours, makes it seem like something is happening.” –
Annie Proulx, Close Range

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Coffee Log, Day 163


Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

She says she’s running the Libertarian ticket for county treasurer; says the Repub incumbent has been embezzling. She says she believes in Capitalism when it works, Socialism when it works, but it never works so she wants small government. Tomorrow, she’ll canvass for a different Libertarian. I tell her I knew a guy at Duke who repped the party, she didn’t recognize the name. Things change. Politics changes. She grew up in Apex and ran the list of all the small businesses she’s watched close.

I’m working a corner of Cary I didn’t know existed. It’s way West, way North, close to Morrisville. There’s a McDonald’s, a dry cleaner’s, a local Mexican chain. It rained all day. New roads – and these were new – look pewter in a storm. I got caught in it taking lunch at the Mexican. A white guy went by on bicycle. He was making laps. He was five years my junior. He looked like someone who was promised a whole lot and given a little less.

I talk to a biker who’s going to Ireland. Says it rains here, rains there, who gives a… His son’s getting married. Expensive wedding. I talked to another father who’s going to Paris. His son plays soccer international, has a game against a world-class club. Son’s 19, dropped out of college for this. Dad says he turns his friends down for parties, hasn’t had a drop of alcohol. Dad says he started a dream at 7 and now he kicks the ball. “That dedication is what I’m proud of, not the sport.”

She says she’s engaged, says her fiance’ works retail, says they’re worried but not too worried. A pretty couple, lip-locked under tip-cupped summer thunderstorms. Free like the runoff; small government.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Here beyond men’s judgments all covenants were brittle.” – Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian


Coffee Log, Day 81


Coffee: Whatever they had in that few-gallon carafe at Landon’s wedding. I only drank half a cup. It was watery and buttery and there was Kahlua beside it but I didn’t add any. Usually, a half-cup wouldn’t be enough to take the edge off a caffeine headache. Today, it was fine.

The venue had no AC. We got there at 8:30 while the breeze was still crisp. Wasn’t long before things were heating up. I walked through a hundred-year-old building to the wet-gold outside with a woman on my arm I hadn’t met before. I stood under a tin roof, on gray gravel, surrounded by fake ivy. Landon’s father read the ceremony. It was simple, some kids were laughing, some moms were crying. Landon read his vows. They were simple and good. They got me crying. I’m a sucker for honesty, especially when that honesty brings people together.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“If I get married, I want to be very married.” – Audrey Hepburn


Coffee Log, Day 79


Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

Getting ready for a best friend’s wedding, I think about marriage. When I was four years old, my mom took me to the library. We checked out a copy of “The Kitchen Knight”; I read about my nerdy namesake – Sir Gareth of Orkney – and fell hard for his quest to rescue and wed a women he’d never met. The story got deep in my bones, snuggled up to my gristle, and made me feel like ‘true love’ – whatever that is – was my destiny.

A lot of American boys grew up with something similar. I hope most of them have realized how screwy the notion is.

Marriage can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people but the predominant line that I bit hard is not a narrative of love, compassion, communication, or equality, but rather the parasitic dream of whole-sale devouring a woman. You take her career, her family, her name. You are the capital m MAN of the establishment, whisked in front of her through a grand patriarchal quest, snatching her from a high tower without asking why she might want to stay or get down. Imagine those cartoons where a character eats a fish and pulls out the bones – it’s something like that.

And yet my friends love each other and they’re getting married. Love springs inside the most problematic places. I don’t know a good name for that deep, lifelong connection anymore, but I know it when I see it. Cheers to the newlyweds. Cheers to being human with each other.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski