early evening by idly regarding the crowds drifting by and waiting to cross the street the other way to a place called The Pioneer Square Saloon where I've been advised by that day's edition of Seattle's alternative newspaper

One Fine Night in Seattle:
A Sucker is Good to the Last Drop
by Mike Barney

So I'm sitting on this park bench in the middle of Pioneer Square the oldest inhabited piece of real estate in Seattle where legend has it the Denny brothers (not Bobby Sherman and David Soul) landed in 1851 to found this burg which is why they call it Pioneer Square which is now the epicenter of boho activity in this most boho of American cities such that across the street from where I'm sitting is a place called The Bohemian Cafe (where of course only tourists congregate) and I'm sitting there enjoying a beautiful warm mid-May

that there is shortly scheduled to begin an open mike session for which I am a sucker especially on warm mid-May evenings in the boho capital of America and as I'm loitering and people-watching I begin to re-notice a phenomenon I'd first seen the morning of my arrival here three days previous when I went out for a walk after breakfast and observed that everyone scurrying along the streets to work, shop, pleasure or wake was -in whatever mode of conveyance they chose (foot bicycle auto tram pram) -carrying a cup of coffee: not a plastic cup nor a paper cup nor even a styrofoam cup --especially not that-- but an honest -to-Pier One ceramic MUG of coffee: men and women in business attire carr ying a ceramic mug of coffee in one hand and a briefcase in the other; joggers with a ceramic mug of coffee in lieu of a nippled water bottle; street kids gliding the skateboard ramps flipping 180 degrees without spilling a drop from their ceramic mugs of coffee; neighborhood hoops players unable to switch hands on the dribble because their free hand is wrapped around a ceramic mug of coffee; corpses contorted in the casket to allow the holding of a ceramic mug of coffee -- why even the trash in the gutters of this beautiful Pacific Northwest paradise consists mostly of puddles of latte and shards of shattered ceramic coffee mugs: truthfully when one moves to Seattle (no one is actually born there) one I think must agree to have a ceramic coffee mug surgically implanted on one's off-hand... ... so as I say I'm sitting there on a park bench in the middle of Pion eer Square Seattle NOT holding a ceramic mug of coffee because everyone knows that coffee is the one vice for which I have never developed a taste (which of course out here in the land of Microsoft, Starbucks the ubiquitous and drive-through cappuccino stands is the mark of ultimate rubedom) and getting ready to go in to this open mike session when a nice-looking neatly dressed early-middle-aged fellow comes up to me hulls apologetically throws me a name I'm too startled to catch and proceeds to relate that he is an assistant football coach (defensive backs) at the UW who's due at Sea-Tac airport in two hours to depart on a recruiting trip after just having had dinner with two other recruits and their parents when (don't you just hate it when this happens) he snapped his car key off in the ignition switch (here he holds up the stub of the snapped key) after which he was able to get someone (who I'm not real clear on) to come out to get the snapped key out of the ignition and had just enough cash to pay for that service but now has the problem of getting another key made and of course has no more gelt and of course the locksmith will absolutely not take credit cards so he's doggedly approached me in the spirit of adventurous fellowship to see if I'd be able to front him the $18.23 the new key will cost so he can go get recruiting for good old UW and probably bring in THE prospect who will lead OUR BELOVED HUSKIES to the Rose Bowl/National Championship and of course there will be no problem about repayment he'll be glad to send me a check if I'll just give him my address so I tell him I'm from out of town and where and he responds that he grew up in the 7-Mile/Livemois area and that his granny still lives on Ohio and that we being fellow Michiganders could I please front him the money his plane is about to take off so like a sucker I slip him a $20 bill and my card after all he DID have on a UW sweater-vest and two hours later as I'm sitting in the Pioneer Square Saloon itself working on a beer and listening to some god-awful sincere tree-hugging off-key folksinger prattle on about how Washington has too many tourists (the alterna-paper forgot to mention it was a MUSICAL open mike) it suddenly occurs to me (I know, I'm slow) that this guy could not possibly be who he said he was he couldn't possibly be an assistant football coach (defensive backs) at the UW he couldn't possibly have had anything to do with any Seattle-based university or any other Seattle institution because despite that neat purple UW sweater-vest here 'in the home of SBC here where espresso is an art form here at caffeine ground-zero this jamoke WASN'T CARRYING A CERAMIC COFFEE MUG and then I think what the hell boy maybe it was a little pricey but that was the most entertaining non-cup of non-coffee you've ever had...

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