If you go to your average Starbucks, you will probably see the following sights: a very angry man filled with rage because he asked for a three-pump skinny vanilla latte and there is very clearly only two pumps in this skinny vanilla latte; an old guy who just. wants. a. coffee. dammit; a group of young mothers discussing the benefits of home-made baby food and name-dropping stroller brands....and me, ordering a tall, non-fat, no water, extra hot chai latte. But go to the Starbucks on 6th in New West and you will see a different sight, because that Starbucks has its own biker gang, who sit in their full leathers outside the shop and talks about hard-core biker shit; (you can just imagine the news report: "at night, they cruise the mean streets of New Westminster armed to the teeth. By day, they prowl the local Starbucks, scaring the foam off their cinnamon dolce lattes"). I call them the Hells' Baristas.
Today, now that I have a brand, spankin' new gait, I decided to take a page out of the Hells' Baristas handbook by walking up to the local Starbucks. My plan: walk up there, get a chai latte, chill with the Hells' Baristas to up my street cred by several degrees, then walk home and celebrate my independence.
One of my favourite albums to walk to is John Cale's "Paris, 1919," because it is impossible not to have a spring in your steps when you're listening to a rock album about the Treaty of Versailles, especially when roughly 80 violins are rocking the shit out of those eighth notes and there's a fucking bass taking the party down low and slow and John Cale is at the piano directing traffic and bringing a little dose of Velvet Underground cool. Sometimes, I will admit, I have been known to sing a little bit while walking down the street and move my pointer finger as if I am conducting an orchestra, which is probably reason #289 why I am single.
So there I am, strolling jauntily down the street, just about to open the door to Starbucks, when an obese man dressed all in black burst through the door with a black cane that appeared to have some sort of duck/cobra/deer head on the handle. The man sees me, stops half-way through the door, twirls his cane around like he's starring in a dinner-theatre production of "Singin' In the Rain," winks (winks!), then thrusts his cane in the air in triumph. He said something to me, but since I could only hear the sweet strains of John Cale singing the "you're a ghost la la la la la la la" part, I did not catch his message.
I can only assume that I had just been greeted by the King of Canes, or that there is a secret handshake (cane shake?) that one needs to know to be inducted into some secret cane society. It has also crossed my mind that the man had performed some sort of cane-user's mating ritual, since all that thrusting and twirling of a long stick does seem a wee bit phallic. The King of Canes disappeared and I gave my hip an extra dose of calcium, while getting to overhear such gems as "Now, experts recommend that you register for a policy of 8 to 9 times the person's annual income if you want to profit off the death of a loved one." (true story). The Hells' Baristas gave me side-eye but did not challenge me to a turf war and I spent 20 happy minutes sipping my latte while reading the latest headlines; (apparently, Stephen Harper recently appointed to the senate a former NHL coach who admitted in a 2005 memoir that while he could sign his name, he could not read sentences. Oh, Canadian politics. How I love you). I think I might have to make a ritual out of a daily Starbucks run. So watch out, Hells' Baristas. I am jonesing for a latte, I am armed to the teeth with a three-foot metal bar and I am ready to rumble.