I never wanted things to go this way. I have to give up though, and I am giving up.
You see, when I was just a young guy, bangin’ around the city and enjoying the cooler summers and colder winters in a distant life, I could always count on that great cuppa from the bodega. I mean, it wasn’t a “great” cuppa, per se, but it was the memory that was great. Even when it tasted like water dressed in brown, ain’t nothin’ like that blue, 10 ounce, Greek lookin’ cup, warm in your hand and just the right size to maneuver through the crowds. You see, you could suspend that cup perfectly between your fingers on the bottom and your thumb stabilizing the top. I still can feel that little burn on the tip of my thumb from when I would keep the coffee from splashing out of the sip hole. But, at the end of the day, you always new there was a stronger cup out there, that is, if I wanted to spare the extra chetto for that supercharged stuff at “Buck-y’s.”
Here I stand, in the dimly lit throes of a bodega. I give up on the fancy coffee, and money is a bit tight with the family and all, so blowin’ $2.34 on a cuppa everyday ain’t the ideal investment. I’m taking it down a notch, I’m going back to the old school; keepin’ it real and doing what I know best: pourin’ my own fuckin’ coffee and payin’ a dollar for it.
I’m tired of trying to be an elitist. I’m tired of being held up in line when the lady in front of me orders an extra-large soy thing, extra hot with two pumps of this and two pumps of that. In this little paradise nobody is in front of me, I get to push down on that squeaky plunger and watch as the coffee is dispensed as fast as I can squeeze it out. I don’t have to wade through the multiple sugar-in-the-raw smashed up packages to get to the real sugar and pour until the spoons stands straight up.
Once my Seattle’s Best (at least that’s what the sign said they served) has been manicured with the proper amount of this and that, I walk to the cash register. “Eighty-nine cents.” The Ethiopian man says with a smile that beams ear-to-ear.
“No problem, sir.” I respond with a couple quarters, a dime and a nickel. The Ethiopian man hands me the penny back, and I toss it in the beat up blue give-a-penny-take-a-penny container. Outside the sun is shining and I burn the tip of my thumb as I balance the cup in my fingers.
I still don’t think it’s me. I just think that I’m a man that hasn’t gotten with the times in this case. I’ve been to Italy several times and stood at the coffee bar in the morning, sipping my espresso quickly along with all the other workin’ stiffs and reading my newspaper, so I know I’m not crazy. Maybe all this soy, chai (which translates to “tea,” ironically enough, in Kiswahili) double trouble, triple shot coffee nonsense is a fad; maybe not. If you want to consider me “that guy,” then so be it. But I’m going to keep fighting to keep it real.