Spittoon 3.1: Toujours

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Spittoon 3.1 Jamieson, Coffee Riders

neon. He’d call out to the waitress. Babydoll? Bring me some coffee and a slice of pie for my little girl. The waitress, always the same, hair tied back in a net, wearing an overly starched uniform, would say, Sure, darling, or raise the coffee pot in her hands like a secret handshake that my father understood to mean On my way. I didn’t drink coffee back then. I barely ate the pie. Held prisoner in that smoky old Caddie as we drove into the night, city by city, coffee was the scourge of my existence. Inexplicable like my dad.Messy and tasteless. We’d stay long enough for one refill and the pie. Then the silent ride home. Pulling into the circular driveway at my house, his old house, my anger congealed to a force that couldn’t be reckoned. No, I don’t want to do my homework at your house. No, I don’t want to have dinner at your house. I’d been to his house. Coming in first thing, he’d pour himself a cup from the cold carafe of coffee made sometime earlier. Heat it up in the microwave or directly on the electric stovetop. We’d sit at the kitchen table. We’d still say nothing. He would look at his coffee. I would look out the window. I could see the pool he built into which I had remained steadfast in my refusal to swim. Or I’d weather a glance at the fridge adorned with my stepsister’s science awards, her brother’s report cards, their photographs. His wife, their mother, stayed in the other room and watched the television unless he called to her, Babydoll? Want to heat me up some soup? Tapping my fingers or reaching for chocolate, I’d wait out the coffee, the soup, the time until I was released and returned. In the years in between then and now, thousands of miles from my torturous suburban days of coffee haze, I fell victim to ubiquitous green awnings and advertising. I stepped into my first Starbucks and grew to crave coffee. That first sip, beginner’s coffee—grande nonfat Latte with a shot of hazelnut, please—was like falling into a pool of warm reverie. Old wounds had graced unpredictably with age. It was like I was home. I became known by coffee order at four Starbucks within a mile radius of my house in any direction I chose to travel. My kids learned to get dressed early for school because on our way, we’d stop. I’d bribe them with sweet treats, mad-lions, and kids cocoa. I’d negotiate with them: If the line ran out the door, we’d try the next Starbucks. I promised not to make them late for school. At least not too often. I became obsessed with coffee. I became that person who would hijack my kids and drag them out for coffee before and after every activity. My kids got used to doing their homework at the small round tables at the Starbucks on Pico and Veteran. We collected celebrity sightings: Lisa Kudrow at the Starbucks on Wilshire and Bundy. Billy Baldwin at the one down on National by the freeway. Pamela Anderson in