39 Hold on to your seat

The Patron of the Arts guided the conversation away from books and writers. Music was much safer territory.
“I thought the program last night was just enchanting.” She was suggestible, already she’d internalized Rico Suavay’s word of farewell.
In perfect disguise as a fallen-away graduate student, the Frisco Ninja tilted back in his chair and butted into the roundtable discussion, as if coffee shops were open forums for any dork at loose ends. Out of disguise, Alain de Tochigi, the pure ninja, would have respected the privacy of their circle.
As purely presumptuous, he openly lent an ear where he hadn’t been invited.
The Patron continued, “I just melted the entire time of ‘Les Nuits d’Ete.’ So wonderfully sung, so beautifully played.”
As the scholar on leave of absence, Frisco intoned, “But did you hear him straining at the fortissimo?”
Damn! thought the Patron. Second-guessed twice in ten minutes! As Freud whined to Jung, “What about my authority?” Or something close to that, she reminded herself.

Uncle Joe was tired. He’d been behind the wheel half the morning, practicing for the main chance. He was in his thirties, and it was about time. He decided to walk to San Anselmo, as they said in San Anselmo. If you were in Lansdale or around the Seminary or up in the hills to Mt. Baldy or the hills by the Miracle Mile or the hills flowing to hills of San Rafael and Ross, if Sleepy Hollow, if the Barber tract, in any and every part of San Anselmo, it meant you were going to several blocks of small shops called downtown if you said, lightly, you were going to San Anselmo. Joe needed a cup of coffee. A couple of the Sunday drop-ins who stayed until Tuesday owed him a few bucks. He knew they were completely broke, but they’d had a little time to work the Plip Plop for their own ends, and maybe could pay off. He slammed the front door of the Olds with satisfaction, anticipating the double shot of expresso coddled by steamed milk sliding down his gullet.

“John, shush up! I said shush!” Granny Guss yelled because she had to over The View shrikes and baby Drew’s mom sawing wood and counting sheep on the other sofa. What was that boy doing in his bedroom running the Osterizer? Sometimes it was like an entire platoon of blenders at full blast. “What kind of funny stuff are you up to in there? The next electric bill’s gonna be a whopper!”

Overheard by the Frisco Ninja, as he wobbled in his cafe chair like a graduate student with Attention Deficit Disorder: “Your imagery reflects your environment, perhaps to a fault, relatively speaking. Describing the mountain as a ‘heaping chocolate Sundae sprinkled with Macadamia crumbles’ is vivid, but I don’t think it’s possible to sustain a historic novel that way. You’re a natural at haikus . . .’ Frisco wondered what they were talking about, because at the moment he was concentrating more on the influx of bicyclists through the cafe door. And this disguise, the middle-twenties male scholar of waning potential, was a far cry from his humble nature. Words in, words out: “Must think!”

A score and change of bicyclists, exuding perspiration-diluted skin care products, continued to enter. “Now show off inside!” the Frisco Ninja found a chance to whisper into his cell phone. He made it appear his graduate student on leave-of-absence was having an argument most likely with overwrought parents or end-of-her-tether girlfriend. Indeed, the bicylists had posed long enough in the sun, turning various practiced degrees to show their calf muscles to flattering effect. “Maybe twenty-three or four! Not count’ two on floor dead!”
But they had the means to pay, and were welcome in the Plip Plop Coffe Shop according to basic principles of free enterprise. Bicyclists abounded on the streets of Marin County at all hours of the day, all week. They must be on welfare, was a reasonable conclusion. In truth, most bicyclists were financed by NAWMA, the North American Weirdy Man Association.

Aunt Kar paled profoundly as bicyclists entered the Plip Plop. She held baby Drew’s hand a little tighter. The proprietor noticed the sea change in her expression, and sympathetic, looked Kar in the eyes: “The law says we have to serve them.” He thought, “My, she’s lovely” and tried to chat her up: “The really bizarre and disgusting coffee drinks up there . . .” He turned backwards and nodded toward the vast blackboard menu. ” . . . we devised just for them. Like the Frappo Crappo. And they’re so dense they order it! Well, it pays the garbage bill . . .” “Makes them feel like they’re interesting,” returned Aunt Kar, to be passably polite. Baby Drew reflected that the bicylists’ incomprehension of an obvious slur like Frappo Crappo was just another charm on their anal-compulsive yellow wristbands. They had the sensitivity of goats, he reminded himself in proto-language. “Pah!” he exclaimed, as he patted the flyswatter hooked on his pants pocket.

John Guss was talking to himself. Whenever he noticed, he said aloud, “Just keeping things straight.” If anyone had walked into the bedroom then, it would have appeared that John was kibitzing with some blenders.
“This could be the pork loin. What goes with pork loin? I don’t know? Potatoes? OK, this could be potatoes.”
He scooped two handfuls of Oodles of Noodles from a huge stainless steel bowl.
“Okay, okay!” He was excited.
“This is the pork loin, this can be the potatoes . . .”
Earlier he’d boiled several dozen packs of Top Ramen noodles, and drained the water at the al dente moment. Slushy noodles wouldn’t serve his purpose. Even with his small fortune, experimenting with the real thing, like pork loins, veal medallions, argula, quattro formaggio (he thought it was called), asparagus, “. . . etcetera etcetera etcetera . . .” would be expensive.
“Beyond expensive!” Noodles of firm texture were excellent surrogates.
“Okay! Potatoes here,” he said, speaking to his right hand. “Pork loin here,” to his left. He dropped the noodles into one of five blenders aligned on top of a triple dresser. The mirror reflected whirling blades transforming the faux pork loin and potatoes into a promise of John’s grand plan.

Noodles al dente were firm but, of course, noodly.
“But, of course!” John said aloud, thinking of times ahead as suave restauranteur.
Yet with two more not-quite-slimy handfuls, he had another fantastic idea.
“What if?” That said out loud, he pondered silently an alternative to the hard work a brilliant career in food and drink would require.
“What if?” he repeated, cocking his head, examining the thought. What if he invented a cannon that fired squishy vegetables and fruits from a moving automobile to splatter the windshields of tailgaters? Think of the benefit to society! Think of the potential markets! Installed by the dealer, or attachable. Ready, aim . . .
James Bond fans would love it. And with “Casino Royale” James Bond was back.

[To be continued in this, 39]


3 Responses to “39 Hold on to your seat”

  1. MOD Says:

    I just had a double shot, installments 38 and 39 — as good as any espresso at the Plip Plop Cafe!

  2. Peter Smith Says:

    Ah so. Take time to get used to new paragraphs in old entry. But now got it. Wait for next squashed biker.

  3. Peter Smith Says:

    This new entry still has me laughing myself off my chair. Maybe I shoudn’t be, but John talking to himself, the blenders, the food, or his sense of the food, is hilarious, although I have absolutely no idea what he’s doing or why. This needs to be a movie. It is a movie. I can see every square mm of it.

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