Like any typical man I like certain things: Levi's 501 jeans, boxers, a nice cotton t-shirt, eggs over-medium, cowboy movies, the World Series . . . etc. Life seems so simple when at the clothing store I can pick up my old favorites, throw them in the washer and KNOW that everything is gonna be fine.
This "ailment" also infects my culinary choices.
I don't dine out all that often but when I do, I have a plan. When I dine at Nero's, I like to get the lasagna. I've never tried anything else; why should I? The lasagna is delicious. Burger Boy: The Bacon Cheeseburger. Fargo's: Chicken Fried Steak. Pippo's: The Monte Cristo. Dolores Brewery: The Philly Steak. Denny's: The Club. I could go on and on. As often as I eat at those places, my choices never waver. Strangely, those menu choices were the first thing that I tried, I figure: Why Take a Chance and Not Like Something??
I have a favorite coffee haunt where, in the mornings after my swim, I like to stop in and get coffee. Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays I have the same thing. A medium dark roast cup of hot coffee. I am comforted in knowing what to expect, consistent caffeinated goodness in a paper cup. Pure Joy!
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays . . . my predictable, stagnant routine is completely turned inside out.
A certain barista who we'll call - for the sake of my story - Madge
Madge is quite an interesting person. Charming, witty, quick with a smile, great taste in fashion and, among other things . . . honest. Very honest. Not afraid to say things like, "You look tired today" or "Ew . . . you're wearing a tie" or "You look like a manager today" . . . whatever that means? I have always left the coffee shop in much better shape than when I came in, due in no small part to my friend, Madge.
It is nice to have someone willing to be honest, that's for sure.
Madge has decided that I need my coffee drinking horizons expanded, I think she became weary of my getting the same thing day after day. One day she did something completely crazy . . . she made me a Latte'. I was pretty freaked out, it didn't look or smell or act like my ol' standby. It was different, different texture, different smell and different taste. I tried to work up a smile as I sipped it KNOWING I was going to hate it and that I had forfeited the perfect pleasure of dark roast coffee and instead opted for a trip to HippieGrossCoffeeVille. It felt SO, SO wrong.
As much as I tried to hate it, I couldn't. It was actually . . . dare I say it . . . very good. I liked pretty much everything about it. I don't recall what the first trip into the unknown was called, but it opened me up for trying new coffee. Thanks to Madge.
Madge has since made me a great many varieties of Lattes, So many flavor choices, I don't think a person would ever have to drink the same latte twice, as terrifying as that sounds to a hater of change like me.
However . . .
Something went terribly wrong this morning, I may not recover for quite some time. Nothing went as planned. The word "disaster" doesn't fully describe what transpired: I arrived at the coffee shop and made my way to the counter to be greeted by Madge. She said, "Have I got a surprise for you today, Steve".
She had obviously put a lot of thought into this morning's selection.
She continued, "First tell me; are you allergic to anything?"
Knowing what I know now my answer would have been 180 degrees different.
I said, "Yes, I have a peanut allergy".
I don't recall the exact phraseology that followed, but it went a lot like this:
"YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?? I had this great idea and worked ALL morning on getting it JUST right and now you tell me you have a peanut allergy?? That really makes me angry Steve. I'm a little upset."
Dang . . . I knew there was trouble brewing.
She huffed around a minute and then said, "You're not allergic to bananas; ARE YOU??"
I said, "Um . . . no"
"Good, let me make you something else" she said through her slightly gritted teeth.
Well let me tell you . . . she made something so wrong, so vile, so ghetto . . . it almost triggered my gag reflex. It was coffee, with caramel and a mashed up banana in it. I took the first sip - complete with large floating bits of banana that had to be chewed thoroughly before being swallowed - and turned away, hoping that Madge wouldn't be able to see the look of horror on my face as I tried to swallow my banana coffee. It went down kicking and screaming. I took another sip to be polite with the same result. I then looked inside the cup and what looked like a great big booger was clinging to the cup near the top. I'm sure it was a piece of the road killed banana trying to crawl its way out of the yellowish ointment back to safety.
I put the cup down and dejectedly said, "Sorry, Madge. I can't drink this".
I felt like one of the sad people on that TV show "Fear Factor" who had been sent home, unable to force themselves to swallow some crazy bug that they'd been challenged with.
Madge and I looked at one another briefly . . . then we shared a big belly laugh about the whole thing. She made me something else and it was delicious. I was laughing all the way to thinking about what had happened.
I'm very thankful for Madge. She always gets my day started with a smile. I wonder what next week will have in store for me.