by cheri sabraw
I sat down at a local coffee hang-out in a small coastal California town that we love. Lily, the barista–an older woman, who unlike me, seems to be comfortable with the aging process–had just made me my usual drink, a low-fat vanilla latte with two pumps of vanilla.
Conversation in these types of establishments where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an open-mike forum can be either rich, banal, or rich-banal.
On this day, it was rich.
“Did you hear that Evan was arrested last night outside the bar?” asked a male member of the Class of 68 who looked like the Class of 58.
“No, I’m shocked that the sheriff was in town that late,” answered a former hippie with silver hair all the way down to her low-hanging breasts.
“Well, he was, and Evan, evidently, did not go easy.”
“You’re kidding. I figured he was so drunk that he probably fell into the car and was relieved, at that. Or did he relieve himself before the sheriff pushed him into the back seat? God can you imagine the germs that live on that back seat? I don’t want to think about that. You know I have a germ phobia. At least that’s what my shrink and I have been working on for the last year. Lily, that’s why I like your shop here. You keep it clean. Here I don’t worry about germs,” said the fella from the Class of 68.
“Well, I told Evan last week at AA that I was so proud of him for walking that far to come to a meeting (you know he’s lost his driver’s license) and hiking in from five miles out says a lot about his intentions. At least I thought so but evidently not. His mistake is living with Destinee. Everyone knows that she is bad news. Did you hear me? I said bad news. He ought to be grateful he’s alive after he fell from that pine tree last year. Poor guy. Trying to trim his own trees with a chain saw. He’s lucky he didn’t cut off a leg. Yep. He ought to be grateful he’s alive,” resolved the woman with the low-hanging breasts.
I kept my sunglasses on, a habit that began years ago when one of my former students recognized me in a lingerie shop, looking at push-up bras.
I scooted my croissant around its plate and put my lips to the mug. Ahhhhh….Lily knows exactly how to make a latte. And then I saw it.
On the wall, among other wiry words like Patience, Dream, and Faith, was the word Gratitude.
Hanging from the wispy word was a tag. Wow. $45.00 in this economy is a lot to be asking for a Gratitude sign.
All good things must come to an end. My weekend was up. We drove home to the busy Bay Area. I tried to be grateful for the traffic, the fact that I could pay for gasoline at $4.55 a gallon and most important, that my mother’s caregivers had not called in sick.
That night, I wished I had bought the sign. I could place it across from our bed, so the first image I would see each morning would be a subtle reminder to take stock of what I have and not what I have lost such as muscle tone, my father, and a number of much beloved dogs, whose names I will list here: Duchess, Duchess II, Dickens, Galaxie, Maggie, Elsa, and Udo.
Tomorrow: Gratitude is purchased.