Well, as the challenge this week is OBSESSION (singular) I feel compelled to choose… But what to choose…
True, I am totally obsessed with HAIKU (thanks for that one, Ronovan). I honestly think in syllables now and have worn out my fingers counting them. Each and every time I consider writing a poem, the FIRST THING I CONSIDER is… can this be a HAIKU! Of course, since being introduced to this style of writing, barely a year ago, I have published 3 books of haiku poetry and am working on another to be released this autumn. Obsessed with HAIKU? You got a problem with that? Who, me? Heck no, I’m good.
Okay, so I am completely a java-junkie! Not as bad as I once was but still as devoted as ever. I actually got my first coffee house job by offering to trade out my services as a barista for free coffee and tips (oh, they never knew what hit them). Once I showed them that I could make Sunday, the only day of the week they were closed, more profitable than Monday, which was their slowest day of the week, they put me on the payroll and closed on Mondays. I ended up with nearly 40 hours a week there and had ALL the coffee my heart could desire.
My second coffee house job came many years later after volunteering to bus tables and wash dishes for the sheer pleasure of helping them stay open. They were sinking fast, I had two hands and it was my day off so why not! Once the place was sold, the man who bought it (happened to be another customer who had observed me doing my “community service”) hired me to be the assistant manager. Now, while I never worked the coffee bar there, except to help out in a pinch, I was surrounded by amazing coffee and drank my share, let me tell you what!
Cannot even recall the first cup I ever had but I do remember getting up at the crack of dark with my dad and we’d go through 2, count ‘em 2 full pots before we strolled out in to the waiting morning. See, he worked in downtown Detroit and I went to a college-prep high school in downtown Detroit, so coffee time was our time to fortify ourselves for the rigorous schedules each of us faced. And I don’t recall anyone else in the family drinking it actually.
Once I was downtown, I hooked up with my fellow drinkers at the near-by Majestic Cafe, where we sat smoking our parent’s cigarettes, stuffing our faces with chocolate covered, yellow cake donuts and slogging back gallons of hot, black joe! Life was GOOD! I doubt anyone knew each other’s names, it didn’t matter, we were the hyped-up, gifted and talented who could spend their first hour class time in the café 3 out of 5 days a week and still manage to pull straight A’s in whatever that subject was. For us, it was a match made in faux-grown up heaven. All was rolling along great, until the day that shall remain forever, as my most embarrassing moment.
My father never finished school. He was the youngest of 13 children, raised by his sisters and ailing mother here in the states or by his maternal grandfather in Canada, depending on the country he was living in at the time. He was 16 when his mother passed and decided to quit school, become a U.S. citizen and joined the Navy. It wasn’t until later that he received his GED and felt he had come full circle in his education. To him it was paramount that his children make the most of every opportunity for free education so I when the chance to test for this special high school was offered, both he and my mother convinced me this was the best way. For three years I was studied by whomever it was that kept a watchful eye on us and upon graduation from 9th grade, I was accepted into the prestigious Cass Technical High School. Once you completed your senior year, you not only had your State of Michigan diploma but 2 years of junior college under your belt. Side note, we relocated in the middle of my junior year and I did not complete my education there…
I told you that, to tell you this…
At the Majestic, the cream for our coffee came in these absolutely adorable little glass bottles shaped like milk bottles, but they only held two tablespoons worth each. As there were as many as 10 and as few as 5 of us class-cutters there on any given day, we would amass quite the collection of empties. Now, what would you expect a gang of gifted and talented to do with those bottles? That’s right, we treated them like building blocks and we’d create structures that would have gained us entrance to the future architects of America club. Naturally, just like their wooden predecessors, their moment in the sun were temporary and out of nowhere you were likely to hear, CRASH, followed immediately by the riotous laughter of the hard working building crew. (some things never change)
This one day, we had just saluted another creation with our laughter when in that precious moment of after-glow, an unexpected growl of disapproval filled the vacant air space. “Annette Rochelle Parent, come here right now!”
Of course, no one in my immediate circle of nearest and dearest knew my full name. And of course no one except my parents ever used it… Poor Alice, when she was just small…. Looking up into the eyes of my dad was about as bad as it got. But how in hell did he know I was there? Naturally, I was given the lecture of lectures about disappointment, expectations and lack of appreciation. I had to take my lumps because not only was I caught skipping school, but I had in my possession, a package of HIS smokes (didn’t think he’d notice the occasional package of Kents missing from the cigarette drawer). I must have given all the right answers to the tough questions which included solemnly swearing to n-e-v-e-r frequent that place again because he hugged me and told me to get back to school at once. Don’t think I didn’t know that I had dodged a bullet that day.
Right, I never did tell you how he found me, sorry. My dad delivered meat to restaurants…
Dad and I laugh about that memory nowadays. He tells me that while he hated to yell at me like that, he hated, even more, the thought that I was throwing my away my life. I have convinced him that it wasn’t like that at all, it was all about the coffee, which HE introduced me to way back when. Pull up a chair, dad, I’m pouring.
Dark roast, espresso
Rich, liquid gold fills my cup
Nectar of the gods
Greeting me mornings
The afternoon pick-me-up
Drink it over ice
Add the almond milk
Don’t forget the stevia
Caffeine keeps me sane
And now, for the musical portion of our show…
(c) 2016 Annette Rochelle Aben