Wednesday, February 3, 2010

a curbside prophet, a misplaced sushi chef, and yet another piece of furniture finds a home

Yesterday was a page of good things. When you're young and poor and relatively stupid, an entire page of good things can sustain you for a while, and that's exactly what I've been needing lately.

It began with David. David is a regular patron of ours at Starbucks, and at this point I think I can honestly say he is my favorite. He has soft eyes, unruly hair and beard (probably due to the amount of time he spends wandering the frigid streets), and walks with his head bent to one side. He's not very sturdy on his feet - some attribute this to age, chalking it up to senile instability, while others believe it's a side effect of years of alcoholism. Whatever the case may be, it's caused him to teeter on occasion and, one morning, he collapsed right in front of me at the counter. He was okay ("I'll just sit down for a few hours and I'll be fine," he insisted, his tone, as usual, reminding me of Eeyore's ever-positive twin brother).

Supposedly, David just turned 66 - I say supposedly, because the information that passes his weathered lips is nearly always fantastical or, at the very least, unreliable. He once claimed very seriously that his mother was born in a gingerbread house. He also informed us recently that his sister Patricia "still works here." While it's possible that he does in fact have a sister named Patricia, she definitely does not work at Starbucks.

My first conversation with David was back in September, when I moved to the Cape. Having been fairly warned about his oddities, I distinctly remember feeling like most people do when they are forced to converse with someone who is mentally challenged - unnaturally nervous - and feeling guilty about it. I had managed to avoid waiting on him for some time, but now had no choice but to face the unexpected. "Have you been enlightened?" He asked me, after I handed him his coffee. "Enlightened about what?" I replied. "In the Buddhist way," he said with a crooked nod. Not wanting to get into some lengthy philosophical debate, but unsure of how else to respond, I simply stated "No, I haven't." "Well," he said matter-of-factly, "neither have I," and walked away.

The conversation left me stumped, partly because it was so random, but also because I had been expecting something a little more relevant. Everyone else at work had claimed that David seemed to mysteriously know things about them, almost in a prophetic way. I was neither a Buddhist, nor studying "the Buddhist way." What was up with that? I felt unreasonably cheated.

Yesterday morning, however, David redeemed himself. He'd already come through, got his coffee, and had been sitting in the cafe for some time as usual, just calmly planted there with only God-knows-what running through his mind. Then he suddenly got up and wandered over to the counter. "Back for your refill?" I asked, preparing to take his cup. "No, not just yet," he drawled, his head nodding in that crooked way. "Are you married?" He asked, catching me off-guard. "No...not yet," I said. "Marriage is wonderful," he crooned. "I was married once. You fall in have children...sometimes you just have to scrape by. We both had jobs. Sometimes she was a waitress..." His voice trailed off and he paused to ponder something. "But marriage, from what I can marvelous."

I thought about what David had said all morning. How had he known that my thoughts as of late revolved specifically around marriage and "scraping by"? And perhaps even more baffling, how could a man who seriously believed his mother was born in a gingerbread house turn around and have a completely normal, even deeply meaningful, conversation like this one? Once again, the man had left me stumped, though decidedly in a much better mood as I drove across the bridge to meet my mother for our weekly sushi lunch date.

This week, one of my aunts and one of my cousins joined us at New Tokyo for the sumptuous feast. Herman, the head sushi chef, was waiting tables. That might not sound strange to you, but in the three or so years that my mom and I have been going to New Tokyo, never once have we seen Herman anywhere but behind the sushi bar.

I think there is some kind of alternate law of physics that proves anytime someone else shares in one of your routine experiences, something about the experience simply has to deviate from the way it has always been. (Like the one time Jeremy came to visit me at Starbucks with some of the kids I used to work with and David walked in with slicked hair wearing a suit jacket and shiny new sunglasses. As far as I could tell, David was a hobo and had always looked like a hobo, and yet here he was looking undeniably like a celebrity.) Like I said...physics.

Anyway, as it turns out, Herman's serving skills are almost as perfect as his culinary skills - almost. I don't want to be the one to encourage him to stray from behind that sushi bar on a regular basis! He was wonderful, and our lunch was delicious and very fun. The only exception was the moment I found out that the softshell crab roll I'd been eating for three years included the eyeballs and brains of the crustacean, leaving me slightly horrified. But then I remembered that I've eaten cow tongue (willingly, and in a dirty, sweaty third-world country), and promptly got over it.

What better way to follow up a lunch date involving sushi than a trip to buy another piece of salvaged furniture?! My mother kindly graced me with her presence on the drive to
Salvage Chic Antiques, one of my favorite places in the world, to pick up a teal-colored wooden cabinet that was on hold for me. After a quick walk-through, of course, I found about a million other things I'd love to have, but I was very happy with my purchase. Not only was it better than it looked online (pictured in the store below), there is something sickly satisfying about going online later in the day to see a big fat SOLD over your purchase and knowing that somebody, somewhere, is pissed at you for getting to it first. I know, because quite often that pissed off person is me!

I can't wait to hang this cabinet in my bathroom, where it will helpfully store all that extra toilet paper and bars of soap that've been staring up at us from awkward places on the floor. Three cheers for the Island of Misfit Furniture!

P.S. I thought you'd all like to know that I finally solved the mystery of what to do with your leftover pot roast (assuming there is any, of course - growing up with a dad and two brothers pretty much eradicated the word "leftover" from our family dictionary). The thing is, there's usually not enough left over for everyone to make a full second meal out of it, but there's enough that you can't really sneak it into something else just to make it look more filling. So what we did was smear a bit of mashed potato over toast, and spread the extra pot roast with its gravy on top. Mmmmm!


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My name is Audrey. I'm just a twentysomething learning how to master the arts of cooking, cleaning, working and being in a relationship, same as you.In between all that, I like to collect sea glass and salvaged furniture. Occasionally, I cut and paste scraps of paper together. In the end, I am hoping that all of these things together will somehow amount to something good. This blog is a journal of my efforts to get there.


thesalvagedbride at gmail dot com