The Neighborhood Whizzes By

Dogs are reigning in the neighborhood where I work. The weather has been so lovely this week I decided to take a walk. I met Leo, the magnificent British bulldog, Leslie, a four-month old Sheba Inu born in Japan, and Hildie, the Electus Parrot. She was breathtaking.

“Is she friendly?” I asked.

“Only with men,” her owner said.

So I kept my distance. She posed for me as a consolation prize. She never took her eye off of me. IMG_9842

People were out sunning themselves in the park, walking their dogs, chatting with friends, and of course drinking endless cups of trendy coffee at $3-$5 dollars a cup.

It was even warm enough for a ice cream cone from a pop-up, except they hadn’t opened up yet, but if they had, I would have ordered the brown sugar with cinnamon cookies, or maybe the cookie dough with pretzels and chocolate chips. Who thinks up these flavors?

I marvel at how quickly a neighborhood is gentrified. Ten years ago it was the homeless, the prostitutes, and the few people that lived here that dotted the landscape.

Today it’s brand new modern condos, trendy restaurants and fashion shops. More and more techies in packs roam the streets looking for food and coffee and are willing to pay top dollar for it. My favorite second-hand bookstore was forced out of business because the owner of the space was demanding double the rent. The Italian restaurant next door, a local hang-out with good food at reasonable prices, was kicked out, too.

The change-over has been at lightning speed. And ruthless.

I miss the old places because I knew the owners. Today I see strange faces behind a counter. And you know they’ll be gone tomorrow.

Calvin says, “Leo, huh? I’d have to weigh in on that one.”beagle

What’s With The Coffee Controversy Again

We’ve been told forever that coffee and caffeine were bad for our health.

So we cut back from 12 cups a day to 6.

Still too much, said the doctors, but we ignored them. Caffeine withdrawal headaches were like death. You got all the flu-like symptoms of weakness, tremors, and nausea without the flu. Who wanted that? At least with the flu you got the added benefit of calling in sick from work.

Our bodies clamored for caffeine and we said yes.

Besides, coffee wakes you up in the morning, and keeps you purring during the day. It also gives you energy, a fake energy but who cares, energy is energy.

And it’s always a great finish to a good dinner. A great excuse to have a conversation. And a must-have if you’re a writer in a cafe.

This week we heard another report. It came from The New England Journal of Medicine. It said that frequent coffee drinkers have a chance of living longer than their de-caffeinated brothers and sisters.

People who drink the brew have a lower risk of dying from diabetes, heart disease, infections, and respiratory problems, to name a few.

If that’s true, I say haul in the grinders and let’s have a percolating party.

Of course, the study didn’t say if drinking more coffee would ensure better health. That’s for us to find out.

So crunch those beans and down that espresso.

Whether you drown your cafe in cream or soy, take it with or without foam, make sure it’s fully leaded and strong.

Coffee – it builds better bodies.

Calvin says, “Can’t stand the stuff. Now chocolate. There’s a theme. Send me a pound box. Assorted.” 

What A Golden Chair Says About Reading

Everyday on my way home I walk past a cafe that has one gold chair in it. You can’t miss it. It’s one-of-a-kind shiny gold snakeskin faux leather.  It’s by the bookshelf spilling with pre-owned books that nobody reads. The other tables and chairs are functional and boring, and usually filled with customers. The gold chair stays empty.

“I find it odd that nobody sits in it,” I said to Jasmine, my friend at work.

“Oh, it’s because nobody reads anymore,” Jasmine said.

“Like nobody sits down anymore either?” I said.

“Not in that chair, they don’t. They’d be self-conscious.”

“You mean, reading is now a self-conscious behavior?”

“If you’re not reading on a tablet, or your smart phone, you’re dated,” Jasmine said. “Nobody wants to stand out like that.”

I love to read. Real books. The kind with lots of pages crammed with words.

The next day on my way home, I made a detour and went into the cafe. I ordered an espresso at the counter, paid for it, and walked over to the gold chair. I sat down. I looked around. The other customers were engrossed in their conversations. Nobody noticed me sitting there. While I sipped my espresso, I turned my attention to the book titles. One of them caught my attention.

The book was: Historical Rumps on the Gold Chair by Sir Robert Bottoms-Up.

I laughed out loud.

A few people stopped talking to look at me.

Then the chair began to vibrate. At first I thought it was an earthquake. Nobody else seemed alarmed. The vibrations got stronger to the tickling point. I laughed louder. This time more customers stared at me. I looked around me. I was the only one experiencing this. I had a choice. To enjoy the massage or bolt.

What would you do?

Calvin says, “Do you get a free goodie if you pass the 3-minute mark?”

A Vicious Review

My friend, Sabrina and I were nibbling on a canoli. We had finished a pasta lunch at a new Italian restaurant that opened up along the pier. It prided itself on authentic Italian fare. I always judge the authenticity of an Italian restaurant by its canolis. This one wasn’t getting past me. It was soggy.

I put my fork down and took a sip of my espresso.

“Not a four star by any means,” I said.

Sabrina had smeared her side of the plate with the cream cheese filling. She wasn’t a dessert gal.

“Paul and I are communicating better these days,” she said. “I suggested yesterday that he should pursue me more.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Do you know what he said?”

“No, tell me.”

He said, “‘Why?'”

“Oh dear,” I said.

“So I said I thought it would be good for our marriage.”

“How did he respond?” I said.

“‘You don’t like my ideas,'” he said.

“Oh dear,” I said. I had learned not to be wordy when Sabrina was telling one of her stories.

“Then I said to him, ‘What does pursuing me have to do with ideas?'”

“‘Everything,'” he said. “‘I don’t plan. You want to know where we’re going. I like to try new restaurants, you need to know what the food will be like. I like new things, you stick to what you know.'”

“I hate to admit it, but I had to agree with him. I am an idea-buster,” she said to me.

“That’s not true. We’re here, aren’t we, trying out a new restaurant,” I said.

“That’s different,” she said.

“How?” I asked finishing my espresso.

“It was my idea, not yours, so I didn’t bust it,” she said.

“So it’s really a control issue,” I said. As soon I said it, I regretted it.

“What are you saying, that I like to be in charge?”

“Er…yes?” I said.

“Well some friend you are.” She threw her napkin on the table, stood up and stormed out.

I was left paying for lunch and the soggy canoli.

I went home and wrote a review on Yelp. I gave the restaurant minus zero stars. For busting up a friendship.

Calvin says, “What a mess. Never try a new restaurant with an old date.”