OPINION:Cow Catcher Collection
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 5:50 AM
When I call my good friend Patrick back in Arkansas, he often tells me that he is just back from having coffee with "the Coots" at the local Starbucks.
These are a motley crew of older gentleman, all of them veterans and all retired, who meet each morning to solve all the problems of the world (and blame the cause of most of them on President Obama.)
Patrick is an exception, a hold-out like me, who happens to like our current Commander in Chief.
Every community likely has its own Coots. Perhaps they deserve their own coffee shop. Starbucks is everywhere, of course, but out in California, Peet's Coffee is giving them a run for their money.
It seems like we don't have jobs anymore in America, but by golly, we've sure got plenty of expensive coffee shops.
Even on campus, we have a niche coffee shop called KJs that extracts an arm and a leg for its African-blend roast and a whole assortment of lattes.
The cute little expression that always tickles my fancy is, "Shall I save room for cream?"
"No thank you, ma'am, Coots always take theirs black. And when on earth was the last time you heard anyone say shall?"
Yesterday, I drove to Berkeley and met a whole new set of counter-cultural Coots. They sit around in niche coffee shops, drinking esoteric blends of tea or coffee and blame all the problems of the world on former President Bush.
They are a tweedier lot than the ordinary average run-of-the-mill Coots and carry a fancier bundle of newspapers with them. Some are outright socialists and anarchists. Hey, it's Berkeley, capitol of the Left Coast.
Back in Arkansas, Patrick visits a place called Toad Suck Park, and he bet me I couldn't write a story about it to share with the Coots.
I forget what the wager was but sleepless in the middle of the night, I took up the challenge and here I am.
You've got to love a place that has a Toad Suck Park and wonder how on earth Andy Rooney and NPR's "All Things Considered" failed to consider it. In statistics, we call this "failed to reject the null hypothesis.
Coots are a contentious lot but have one thing in common - a natural predisposition to not like change.
Eisenhower was their favorite commander in chief or Truman if they were liberals. Any new legislation offered evokes their quick response "They're at it again!"
Coots would bring back the WPA (and even remember what it was) and build new bridges and infrastructure, but they assuredly would not support all kinds of fancy schemes for community renewal.
It would seem that Coots rarely have girlfriends and some are still fortunate enough to still have missus at home, or not, depending on your point of view.
Whatever faults are not the product of Washington usually stem from her and her friends; although I'm probably violating a trust by admitting their secret conversations.
Nothing excludes a man quicker from Cootdom than to be exhilaratingly happy with a new sweetheart, a failing I confess I've succumbed to gladly.
I don't know what you'd call the complement of older women who meet at coffee shops in the morning; except maybe the ones who regularly shop at Macy's, I might moniker as "Coats".
Using the vowel "a" often denotes the female gender of our population.
I guess I'm borderline on this whole Coots business, a little bipolar to be sure. "The best part of waking up is Folger's in my cup" is indeed, my morning mantra. I shake it right out of the jar and use hot tap water for my first morning fix.
When I get to school, I go straight to the Veteran's Resource Center and toss my spare pennies in the jar for "free" coffee. By the time I get to work, I'm drinking fancy store-bought bottled water that I refill from my tap every morning.
I do what workers all over the world do: I check my Facebook page and text my girlfriend in San Jose and sit there scrolling the screen of my new iPhone.
I probably should write an app for Coots but I've no earthly idea what it would actually do. Coots usually are done doing and don't care much for high-tech gadgets.
Say, I just had a sudden brainstorm. Why don't they hire that famous sculptor from back home, Craig Bergsgaard, to create a sculpture of Coots and put it up in the city park?
It might look like the famous diner counter scene in the Hopper painting.
It could be a testament to the stalwart determination to resist silly traffic circles and skinny boutique main streets to the bitter end.
It seems hauntingly familiar to the infamous "highway to no where" that's brought down more than one politician who supported it.
The Coots are cheering now. They get what I mean.
"You're one of us, now," they chide and snicker, sorely missing that delightful taste of snuss in the tongue in cheek.