My hometown, Sonora, had a big shakeup this week. Traffic on Mono Way came to a standstill several times. Ranchers on their way to Jim's Feed and Tack store, construction workers driving to their job sites, and the elementary school bus were brought to a halt. Wild turkeys, it seems, had taken up residence in the manzanita and scrub oaks up the hill behind Mother Lode Motors car dealership. For some reason known only to the turkey brain, in fitting with the turkey lifestyle, the birds waited until a good number of cars were chugging down Mono Way and then they'd charge out from their brush and down the hill and they'd run, gobble gobble gobbling , into the middle of the street. Every morning.
Now, you're not going to catch a turkey. Sure, you may outrun one in, say, a marathon. If you could keep them on the course and in the right direction somehow, yeah, a turkey wouldn't be much of a challenge over 26 miles. But in the space of a roadway where they can turn when you jump at them, or switch back and sprint between your legs when you bend down to grab one, all you're going to get is an armload of air. So despite the best efforts of the police who arrived every morning, the turkeys couldn't be stopped. They could only be chased away.
It caused quite a stir in Sonora. John Hinkley, the local newspaper reporter, was out there on Mono Way early in the morning before rush hour, with pen and paper, to see if he could get the scoop. That morning, John had a big, hot cup of coffee from the Miner's Shack diner in his hand, and he watched the cars roll down the hill.
But he was facing the wrong way. He was watching traffic instead of the hill behind him, and once there were enough vehicles passing by to satisfy the inexplicable workings of the turkey brain, the birds made their attack. One turkey, as it passed John, because it had evil intent in its little turkey heart, bit the reporter right on the butt cheek.
Well, John's coffee went flying into the air, the turkeys dashed out onto the blacktop, and a milk truck carrying the morning dairy down from the farms locked its brakes and took the cup of coffee right on the windshield and a squawking turkey right on the front bumper. The truck screeched through the intersection and knocked down the only traffic light in town. Turkey, coffee, and fresh cream all over the place.
Well, that was bigger news than John could handle, and pretty soon the TV camera crews from Modesto (the big city) were on scene and reporting live. Yes, sir, big shakeup in Sonora this week.
Observations from the Coffeehouse
Thursday, May 3
VH1 6:00 a.m.
Claire de Lune
I'm going to start a coffeehouse band. Instead of the usual whining, acoustic, sensitive, chunky-sweater rock that most coffeehouse bands play, we'll play really frantic jazz, and I'll sing-scream about teeth and steel-belted radial tires. My band will be called Shut the Hell Up This Is a Coffeehouse Not Philosophy 101 Class, Hippie , and our first single will be "Go Screw."
PRIDE Fighting Championships
FSW1 1:00 p.m.
Good God, help me. While in a café, people will talk about the least-interesting garbage. A trio of idiots at the table next to mine is discussing the differences between jams and jellies. I want to slap them each on the neck hard and pour my coffee on their heads. "I am not interested in your HIGH VOLUME debate on the intricacies of fruit preserves! I am trying to draw up plans for a big red rocket to Mars!" I wonder if Einstein had this problem.
Friday, May 4
FAM 3:00 p.m.
Listen, honey, if you're going to wear a maternity mini-skirt, you could at least cross your legs when you sit on the couch opposite mine. If you can't get your knees into a knot around that watermelon gut, could you drop a napkin in your lap? I don't need to see where that kid is coming from. I can't believe you thought a sheer panel of Lycra from your bellybutton to the top of your thighs was a good idea in this, your 14th month of pregnancy. I can't even look at my blueberry scone now.
Saturday, May 5
The Ladies Man
Comedy 9:30 a.m.
Sir, if you could close your laptop for a second. Yes, I know you're on the 19th level, but there's something a bit more interesting on the other side of your screen. And, ma'am, if you could shut your laptop as well. Yes, that report isn't going to type itself, but if you look over your spectacles, there's something I'd like you to see. You're 16 inches away from each other every day and you've never even said hello. Okay, fine. Have it your way. Exchange instant messenger screen names. Just get to it.
Discover 1:00 p.m.
Coffeehouses seem like a cruel trick played on the digestive tract. Every pastry behind the gleaming glass case is high fiber. Every cup brims with fast-acting caffeine. There's one restroom in the back. You need a key and a retinal scan to get in. You're 15 race-with-the-devil minutes from home. Do you feel lucky, punk?
Sunday, May 6
PBS 11:30 a.m.
The Other Side Café
Well, that was awful nice. That fellah bought my cup of coffee. Hmmm...this café seems different. Loud dance music. Blacked-out windows. The barista's wearing sunglasses. This coffee tastes terrible. How do they stay in business? Why are there no women in here? Oh! That's why he bought me the cup of coffee. Well, that explains all those flags out front.
Monday, May 7
The Young and the Restless
CBS 11:00 a.m.
Oh, that's a grand idea. Give your kids an iced, whipped, coffee-and-sugar slushie. No, I don't mind that this little cracker cruncher is punching me in the temple or that your other yard ape is pulling the free magazine rack over. I will only sit back with delight as you ignore your wild pack of hooligans and I wait patiently, with my fingers tented in front of my face, for them to discover the dish of dog treats by the door. Ever closer. Ever closer.
Tuesday, May 8
1,000 Places to See Before You Die
Travel 10:00 a.m.
Red Piano Inn, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The worst coffee I've ever had in my life was in Cambodia. But because the waitress was very cute in her white apron and giggly, so giggly, I couldn't tell her it was awful. I pretended to drink the vile swill while she watched me. I had poured half of it in my mouth when she was called away by another customer, and I spit the wad of it out the window. When she returned I held my cup up, smiled, and gave the international gesture for "good coffee" by going "mmmm." She was so cute and giggly.
The Next Bite
VS 10:00 a.m.
How very frightening. A Goth coffee bar. Because even the undead need a little pick-me-up in the morning. Of course, you're very serious and depressed and you long for passion and blood, and this is your dungeon. Don't let that Rice Krispie treat go stale or your latte get cold, Vampirella.
Nickelodeon 10:00 a.m.
Ugh, with the dogs all the time. Believe it or not, dogs don't belong in a place where food is prepared and served. Although, it's not even that. I don't mind dogs, even if they are where I'm eating and drinking. But don't make your voice real high and speak like it's the dog that's talking. I don't care that he "just wants to say hi! I really want to say hi and sniff everything! Oh, hi! Hi, how are you?" I know you think it's quite clever, but it's really not that amazing that you understand the inner workings of your dog's mind and can vocalize what he's thinking. Moron.