Friday, 25 April 2008

End of an Era - Day 4 - Hazelnut Day

Hazelnut Day, also known as 'my-absolute-most-favouritest-day-of-the-week,' seemed to come and go without a hitch. I was worried about Utnu and Second Cup, but so busy at work I barely had a thought to myself anyhow.

That evening, since it had been a relatively good day and the week was coming to a close, I decided I would bake cookies. I stole chocolate chips from my good friend who had foolishly left me with her apartment keys (I am ruthless), I bought random baking stuff at the convenience store, threw on some rock and roll tunes (regardless of twirling danger - am rebel), and began baking.

Now, everything was dandy until my second batch was in the oven and I noticed that a plastic lid was on top of my 'this is where the oven farts hot gas' element. I grabbed the lid, and strings of melted plastic followed. I sighed and threw it in the sink.

A big drop of melted plastic now adorned my element, and I thought it would smell very bad when, forgetting it was there (which I would), I would turn on the element (probably this very night). I put on my oven mitt and pulled off the element, with the intention of putting it in the sink before the plastic fully hardened. Now, let's recall that element was warm enough to melt plastic.

It also happened to be warm enough to set my oven mitt on fire.

Thanks to my experience with flaming tabbies, the fire was quickly put out, but in the process, I threw my element, melted plastic and all, in the cold water of my sink. It made some really funky noises and the plastic is now bonded to it like skin to bone.


I was, however, pleased to report that I didn't actually burn myself until, with the same oven mitt (still smoking), I took out my cookie sheet (burnt cookies by then). They don't kid around when they say oven mitts don't work as well once they've burnt. I didn't drop the cookies though, so I'm pretty pleased with myself.

I didn't tell my mom about this incident, as she is a good woman and I didn't feel she needed to know this was part of her legacy on Earth.

... well, ok, this didn't really have anything to do with the end of an era, but I was pretty brain dead by then, and I thought it was funny. Besides, a girl can only handle so much coffee and Utnu-related drama in one week, really.

But wait until Butter Pecan Day. Everything changed on Butter Pecan Day.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

End of an Era - Day 3 - French Vanilla Day

With Utnu's diseased brain, I had missed a whole day at Second Cup, neglecting my coffee people (very uncouth). This morning I came in Utnu-less, but determined to get some quality coffee and letter writing time.

I asked D. what he wanted today, and he said a coffee. I told him it was Irish Cream day and he seemed pleased to hear that.

I merrily strolled in, and my coffee people threw their hands up in joy (one day missed is very rare for me. I am a coffee-addict). I felt like the prodigal son (except instead of being a moocher, their business depended on me. I’d be happy to see me too if my RRSPs and children’s education funds depended almost exclusively on my caffeine guzzling habit, but I digress. I digress a lot, apparently.)

I walk up to the counter, grin widely, and ask for two medium Irish Creams.

I look down.

Eyes grow wide.

“Oh, it’s French Vanilla today?”

“Miss …”

Oh no! I won’t be Miss’d today! I beat him to the punch.

“But it’s Tuesday!”


Start panicking and remembering week (remember, it was a long week. The end of an era, in fact!)

“No, wait, it’s Thursday!”

“Miss …”

“No! Wednesday! It IS French Vanilla Day!”

Second Cup guy throws hands up as if in deliverance and shouts: “Thank you!”

I was then scolded for not coming in yesterday, as I was obviously losing track of time without their carefully crafted time-keeping system. If I came every day again, they informed me, I would once again grasp and be soothed by it.

I have my doubts.

But it’s nice to be missed.

End of an Era - Day 2 - Irish Cream Day

I'm always suspicious of Irish Cream Days. I don't know if it's my brain that doesn't quite get enough of a boost from this particular blend, but usually I'm at my very slowest. Which is very slow, I must say.

But, although my Second Cup lingered near renovation closing-time (it's like a coma in people terms), I didn't make it in on that Irish Cream Day, since Utnu had been having difficulties lately. (Utnu being my beloved iBook G4 and my bestest writing buddy ever.) Anyways, instead of going to Second Cup and facing Irish Cream Day, I called Utnu's warranty people.

The conversation went something like this (CR = customer representative):

Me (calm) : "Yes, he's not been booting since yesterday."
CR (confused) : "He?"
Me (embarrassed) : "Um, yes. I have a strong affinity with him."
CR (redefining reality) : "Ok. So it, um, he doesn't boot?"
Me (worrying) : "No. He screams."
CR (polite but difficulty adapting) : "Screams?"
Me (wishing didn't feel Utnu was own person) : "Um, yes. Well, he beeps three times. Yes. And he has kernel panics."
CR (back in realm of comfortable language) : "Those aren't good."
Me (too much information?) : "No, because when he panics, I panic. It's really not a good scene."
CR (good old scout try) : "Oh. Yes. I can see that. Well, ok, well, ship um, him in, and um, he'll see a, um, doctor. Yes. A laptop doctor."

So Utnu went on a little trip, and we didn't get to spend this last week at Second Cup together, which only made things that much more difficult. Of course, then Canada Post lost Utnu, my friends vowed to head out in throngs (ok, more like a small gang - I don't have that many Utnu-hunting friends), but he was found again, and repaired, even though I called regularly for Utnu updates and got to know the CR very well (always got the same one, who also came to call Utnu by his name). I also debated sending Utnu flowers (care of his rep, of course) but, thanks to a rare appearance from my censor, didn't do it.

Utnu took three weeks to return. We're inseparable again.

After that day, though, I learned that it doesn't matter whether or not I'm actually drinking Irish Cream on that day. Irish Cream Day is still Irish Cream Day. (A moral for the ages.)

Sunday, 20 April 2008

End of an Era - Day 1 - Caramelo Day

It’s been a rough few months and, although I have wonderful friends who supported me through all the hardships, it’s still a bit hard to talk about it. But a girl’s gotta get things off of her chest, and now’s as good a time as any.

It all began in November. The beginning of November, actually. I arrived early to Second Cup, as usual, and saw D hanging outside. D is the local enterprising panhandler, who always greets me with a smile and kind word. But today his eyes didn’t have their usual spark, and the second he saw me crossing the street and walking towards him, he shook his head and shouted in warning: “It’s bad!”

The greeting I was about to shout died on my lips, as did my smile. Never before, in our years of chatting in front of the Second Cup, had D ever harbinged doom.

He shook his head again. “It’s real bad.” The he nodded sideways, to the door of the Second Cup, and I saw the sign: “Closing for Renovations by end of week – every item for sale.”

“What do they mean, renovations?” I asked, rooted before the sign.

“The way they talk about it on the streets (the “streets” of Ottawa are apparently quite concerned over the welfare of this Second Cup),” he lowers his voice, forcing me to stop staring at the sign and lean close to him to capture every syllable, “they’re going to be closed for a while.”

“A while?”

He simply nods and goes quiet. “I’ll get you a hot chocolate, no whip,” I whisper as I pass him and head into the Second Cup, the door slightly heavier than usual.

It all looks the same, inside. The same wooden chairs, the dilapidated section in the back where used to be a bagel shop, the dark corners where sometimes a student was allowed to take a quick nap... it was all the same, but disturbingly different, all at once. As I stared at it, I felt as though time was painting over the beloved mosaic that was this shop, where I had spent so many happy hours writing and forgetting the world.

“What’ll it be, miss?” Dave, one of my two Second Cup guys asks. How long would it be before I would hear him say ‘miss’ again?

“Large Caramelo?” Caramelo. It was Monday. Caramelo day. I always loved Caramelo day.

“And hot chocolate for D,” I say softly as I approach.

“Hot chocolate, no whip, coming up,” he says as he takes my money and quickly gives me change. Wally, the second beloved Second Cup guy, tries to break the tension.

“It’s getting cold out there! I think it’ll be a long, cold one!”

His smile falters as though he has said too much. I don’t ask for details – the fate of my Second Cup is more than one can handle first thing on a Caramelo Day.

“How much for the clock?” I suddenly ask, and all three of us understand I’m just trying to capture a piece of this place, as though by buying their weary Time for a Second clock, I would somehow slow down the passage of time, and steal the painfully efficient paintbrush straight out of Father Time’s hands.

Dave gives me a weak smile. “Sorry miss. It’s already sold.”

That was Caramelo Day.

Things went downhill from there.