Friday, September 16, 2011
My group has stayed pretty consistent over the years although we have lost a few souls over time. We lose a few and we gain a few, and there is sort of an unspoken initiation rite that weeds out the chaff and the weaklings and keeps the thing on the up and up. We started at Charlies, and then went to Fallbrook Cafe, then Clementines and Chubby Chix and have had a table at Cafe Primo for the past five years or so. Might be one or two that I have forgotten. Woe to those that get there early and sit at our table, those not respecting our early morning authority sure to get a stink eye or two.
The original core group was Bruce the locksmith, Bob the retired plumber turned expert witness, Frank the cop (now deceased), Russ (stopped coming out to play when Frank kicked), Ron the dentist, Mike and me. WildBill figured the thing out really quick and fit right in. He is usually the first to arrive and has the duty of securing our table. Pete sells Nomads, car parts and surfboards. Tony Z occasionally makes the scene. A few others. Mike is the oldest member, but his kids took the keys away and he's a bit oversensitive, he got miffed and left the group about a year ago after somebody pissed him off. I suggested that Little Tony C. sit on a telephone book in his Escalade for a better view and he decided to seek greener pastures. Like caribou trying to survive a cold winter, you just have to step over the fallen comrade and keep moving.
The group is non denominational and probably evenly split politically. We don't talk a lot of politics but everyone is free to say their piece if they want to and nobody ever gets shut down. Some guys got bucks, some of us are poor, we don't know and we don't care. We all have a routine. Bob brings the Los Angeles Times and gives it to me when he is finished reading about his precious Anaheim Angels and I get to bring it home.
The tables sort of radiate out from ours and take their proscribed place in the natural scheme of things. The next table has about 10 to 15 years on us, retired firemen, military men and assorted good guys. The outside chairs are for the hardcore smokers, Brett and Fred, Bobbie, Denise, Krash and a few assorted schizophrenics, although they are usually there later in the day and it depends on who the cops have picked up. There is a guy named drummer boy who is always tapping drumsticks, Frank who talks to invisible demons and Lisa, and I just don't want to know what makes her tick.
We have an ex preacher in the room who drives a maserati and writes books, a woman's weekly book club and just a whole host of characters. A woman with a brain injury, an ex writer, who occasionally busses our table for us. By nine the moms and bible studiers show up and I make myself scarce. Everybody at Primo knows where they sit and knows where they stand. Warren comes by in the afternoon and holds court on the late shift and Lance has been suspiciously hanging around for far too long lately and also likes to bum my newspaper.
There is a real bonding when you drink coffee with a bunch of regular guys after twenty years. As far as I know, nobody at the table drinks any of the sissy drinks, all straight coffee drinkers. The coffee is fair there, we come for the lies, tall tales and companionship. I believe that the bakery goods come out of a package from Costco.
Stories get old but we are cordial enough to bob our heads and pretend that it is the first time again. Or maybe say 57 or number 63 when we sense an old joke or routine, like the old bowery boys did. Mike went on and on about the parking lot for the better of 18 years and we still get stories of Bob's thrilling exploits as a commercial plumber or we will occasionally ply for information on Doc's latest root canal.
Bob has bees in the owl box that he put up that the owl decided to never live in or visit. This morning we told him how to burn burlap in a smoker so that he could remove the queen. Bruce said that they sometimes got two queens. I said that was a problem because two queens would probably want to redecorate. Bill said "Or eventually adopt a black child."
The repartee goes back and forth, but with a nice slow rhythm, we have spent so mornings together that the whole group is sort of like an old married couple. And we have spent almost as much time together as an old married couple.
Maybe stop by one day for a cup.