Pretty soon I came across this little spot. It looked real busy, but I went in anyway. I hate social situations when I’m drunk but I hate the cold even more. It was funny because when I was outside, my face was freezing and my body was warm, but when I opened the door and the warm air from inside spilled out and all around me, my face got warm and my body felt real cold. My pea coat was holding out the heat. I almost took it off but I didn’t wanna look like an idiot walking around with a jacket hung over my arm like a fucking waiter.

The cafe was made up real nice and cozy. They even had this old wood burning stove over in the corner where all the heat was coming from. It was a nice stove, one of those little black ones, like the kind we had when I was a kid up the coast in Mendocino. The cafe was really just one little room so the stove kept it pretty hot in there. Some guy had his mug sitting on top of it, where you’re supposed to put a pot or a kettle, and he was keeping his coffee warm that way. He looked really at home, all spread out on the couch next to the stove, reading a book of poems by Yeats, or Keats, I couldn’t quite make out the name, and I didn’t really care. His comfort bothered me because I’m never comfortable like that in public. I really prefer to be at home, on my own couch, or my bean bag chair with the soccer ball pattern. I  envied his comfort and wished he was drunk and not me. But that wasn’t until after I ordered my tea.

The girl behind the counter was about my age and really pretty in a Hepburn kinda way. Audrey, not Katharine. As I ordered my Earl Grey tea, I spent the whole time looking at a little wooden Buddha that was sitting next to the tip jar. Audrey probably thought I was acting weird, but I’m not sure because I wasn’t looking at her at all. That made it all bearable. As long as I don’t know that someone thinks I’m strange, I don’t mind. That little Buddha didn’t care that I was drunk. It reminded me of this tapestry I had hanging up in my living room back at my apartment. My friend gave it to me a couple years ago when he came back from a trip to Tibet. It was one of my favorite things, a real conversation starter. I always have gotten a kick outta that Eastern stuff.

The tea cost me two-fifty. I’m always surprised at the cost of tea these days, I mean, it’s just leaves and water, right. The really good stuff doesn’t even come in a bag; you’ve gotta get your own damn tea-steeper and everything. I had this great one shaped like a yin-yang. I got it out of a catalogue and paid almost a fortune for it, really. But I bet it was the best looking damn tea-steeper in the city. Maybe I should get into the tea business if people are paying two-fucking-fifty for some dried up leaves and you don’t even have to give them a goddamn bag.

© Reed A Raymond 2011