Having gone, a few hours ago, to the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue, I’m now sitting down on an unseasonably warm Saturday, listening to the radio. The coffee they sell in that establishment is most delightful. I especially like the distinctive flavors, featuring ingredients like cinnamon, vanilla and icing. They have tea with lemon too, but so far I haven’t gotten any of their tea. I usually walk there since it’s so close to my neighborhood. If I’m going to spend a significant amount of money on something at least it’s good to know that it’s a fine product. I often walk at least twice a day, and say hello to each neighbor as he passes by. One of the ladies behind the counter is dressed in yellow. Sam, Bridget and I just recently ate bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches for lunch. Sam and I drank Costa Rican coffee with ours. I frequently walk down to the beach too, and enjoy all the water. Bridget has been complaining lately about problems with her telephone. It’s an Apple. Over the course of the past few weeks the weather outside has been so ugly but today’s is perfect. Nice weather always makes me happy. My Facebook friend list includes a lot of people from my past, like Brother Edmond from St. Gabriel’s, and other teachers, classmates and friends of mine. Facebook is a land where fantasy meets reality. It’s a world where everyone takes for granted a green light to ramble on about anything that interests him. The Irish advocate the wearing of green. The monarchists advocate a country ruled by a king and queen. Thanks to the internet, I’m now quite lazy about reading the paper. There are quite a lot of things I haven’t seen in Long Beach, but, of course, I’ve never seen an X ray of a zebra either.
Dear coffee, Now that I’ve decided to write you a letter, I should like to tell you quite a few things, many of which may be very difficult for you to accept. Ever since I was in my late teens I’ve always been quite a compulsive coffee addict. I could tell you, Oh somewhat demonically inclined brew, with which I have always been quite inordinately preoccupied, that over the course of all this timeyou have consistently subjected me to as much pain and sorrow, at the very least, as happiness and enjoyment. For the past couple of decades it appears the we’ve come to a bit more of an understanding but for a while there you gave me a bit too much trouble. You gave me nightmarishly bad migraines, and a violently sick stomach if I drank you black. I never even so much as dare to think of drinking you black anymore, and the headaches have stopped, though now they occasionally come from other sources, and I have always lost sleep over you. I enjoy you in a wide variety of flavors and ethnic varieties, as the ladies at the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue know quite well. Many people only enjoy the plain kind. Steve doesn’t like any flavors. Sam appears to like only the Costa Rican kind. I like all varieties though. If somehow, over the course of one day, I could put all my feelings about coffee into a letter, I should say that you, like many people, can have quite an intoxicating effect on an individual, leading him to push his luck quite inordinately and to accept quite a horrendous amount of punishment in exchange for a nice time. Now that the nasty part of our relationship is over, you’re like an old friend, who always seems to show up at precisely the right times, in order to help me both to enjoy festive occasions and to endure hardship.
Your Biggest Fan
If a stranger comes knocking and wants to know how he can get to the Long Beach station of the Long Island Railroad, I should ask him if perchance he may enjoy an ice cream cone. If so then he could start his trip by going for a few miles into the opposite direction on Park Avenue, to Marvel. It’s pronounced to rhyme with Carvel. He’ll be headed toward the Loop Parkway, somewhat past there, in case he really wants to go far away. After that he may want to go down past Beech Street to see the several miles of beaches we have around here. Who could possibly even try to resist our enchanting boardwalk? While there he could either rest or exercise. I’ve been there several times since I first got here. On his way back in this direction he may stop at the Lido Kosher Deli, as well as the liquor store, Italian restaurant and pizzeria right next door to the Key Food on Park Avenue. Across the street from them is Associated too. Except for the kosher deli’s French fries I really like all the stuff they have there. Perhaps he could go down to the West End where they have a nice business district with several restaurants, as well as a CVS, and bagel shops. Maybe he could even stop at Swingbelly’s Restaurant, where my niece works. If he happens to show up on either a Wednesday or a Saturday he can go to the Farmer’s Market at Kennedy Plaza. That’s very close to the train station. Of course for good coffee he could go to the Coffee Nut Cafe and Gentle Brew. Depending on his religion he may want to visit either Young Israel or the Knights of Columbus Council 2626. For clothes he could go slightly over the bridge onto Long Beach Road in Island Park and shop at Kohl’s and Marshall’s. By the time he even remembers that all he wanted to catch a train he will have seen much of what really keeps life interesting around here.
I walked into the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue at around nine thirty this morning, fully expecting it to be yet another droll ordinary day. That was not to be. From out of nowhere a legendary World War One flying ace walked in and ordered a large cappuccino. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Over the course of the past nine months I’ve frequently seen him in town but never in all my born days could I possibly have expected to meet him. I tried to say hello. He politely nodded and smiled.
“My deah, I should like a lahge cappuccino,”
was the only thing he uttered the entire time he was there among us. His speech and demeanor were so authoritative and intimidating. We were all hoping he may have been willing to stay for a while and tell us a story of all his grand and glorious exploits. It was not to be though. Everyone has always wanted his autograph. Perhaps at least one of among us shall be so fortunate as to be able to gain his confidence. We’re so proud to have him even living among us. He’s quite a colorful fellow. Until then, though, we shall be happy merely to hope for the very best. He’s Long Beach’s most distinguished character. We hope he stays a long time among us.
Over the course of the past quite a few months I’ve always been in the entirely non negotiable habit of making at least one trip each day to the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue in Long Beach in order to get my requisite medium sized cup of coffee. By now I’ve become so predictable a fixture there that the ladies who work there recognize me quite well. One Saturday morning a few months ago, I was subjected to quite a bitter disappointment. On that day the unthinkable happened: the coffee shop ran out of coffee. “Sir,” the owner exclaimed in exasperation, “the trucks that are supposed to bring us our supplies regularly broke down last night and haven’t yet been fixed.” She, the other ladies working there, all the other regulars and I stared at each other in total disbelief and frustration. I didn’t know what to do. After having walked a half mile, with my bad feet, all the way over to Park Avenue for nothing, especially disappointed due to my having been begrudged the single most unavoidably mandatory ritual of my day, all I could do was to sulk in self pity on my way out the door. They still had lots of gelato and pastries available so I could easily gotten something just for the sake of being able to make the trip somewhat worthwhile. It wouldn’t have been the same though. Because of my always having somewhat prone toward being a sore loser, unfortunately, I spent the rest of the day obsessing over it. I found myself snapping at anyone who presumed to mispronounce a syllable within earshot of me. Having never before been subjected to anything so frustrating I even got a migraine that lasted until Sunday morning. Somehow, since then, I’ve managed to overcome my bitter resentment of such a horrible thing. Every once in a while, though, I remind the ladies that if they ever even so much as let something like that happen even one more time, I shall start going regularly to Gentle Brew.
Unfortunately I didn’t respond to the prompt that asked what day 211 would be like. My parents both died last autumn so I’ve been subjected to quite a few very significant changes this year. It’s turned out to be quite a nice uneventful year for me though in most respects. I’ve been having quite a nice time getting used to life in Long Beach. Nothing has gone especially wrong for me. I’ve always had a hard time adjusting to change anyway. I’ve been meeting new people here and figuring out how to find my way around. The people at St. Mary of the Isle and the nearby Coffee Nut Cafe have been getting used to having me around by now. It gets me quite crazy but I’ve been able to handle it. Sometimes I go to the beach or at least walk toward its general direction. I make sure I go to Mass most days during the week. I can’t stand cold weather here but I can’t stand cold weather in general anyway. Now that it’s warm and sunny out I’ve truly been having the time of my life. My feet hurt quite a lot though so I have one very minor complaint that seems not to have any kind of a solution.
The last time I went to the beach specifically in order to spend the day swimming was, believe it or not, on Groundhog Day. Mary Anne, Steve, Mark, some friends of theirs and I went there for a Polar Bear Club fund raiser. If we were ever to go there around this time of the year, on a bright sunny day, eating watermelon and having a leisurely enjoyable time, and suddenly from out of nowhere, hail were to start falling onto us, it most certainly wouldn’t be even the least bit difficult to find something else to do. Of course there’s a pretty good chance we wouldn’t stay on the beach so maybe we could go to someplace like either the Coffee Nut Cafe or Gentle Brew in order to get something really nice to eat or to drink. Those are both exceptionally good coffee shops on Park Avenue in Long Beach. We could even do what we did after our jaunt on Groundhog Day. We could very easily come back to the house and have a few drinks or coffee, or both, right here. It would be difficult to get there but at least we could stay indoors and have something enjoyable to do until the storm abated. Since the beach is only around a half mile walk from here it’s never the least bit difficult, although there would be quite a few other disgruntled people to have to deal with under such a harrowing set of circumstances. The only thing that would make it unbearably aggravating, would be that, since the beach is so close to here, we would most probably have walked there. That would mean that we’d have to walk away in such unbearably miserable weather. Even in a car, we’d be forced to drive so unbearably slowly in order to avoid any trouble. For people who have to travel an even reasonably significant distance to the beach, of course, things wouldn’t work out the least bit well. Of course that’s all assuming it’s only a moderate hailstorm. If it gets very bad, we’ll have to hide under the boardwalk.
If my current mood could be depicted in a painting, as a representation of something tangible, it would perhaps be a very old, worn-out tree on an exceptionally hot day. Right now I’m in at least a reasonably decent mood. I’m so calm and happy, enjoying the temporary peace and quiet. My only problem is that I’m entirely too hot and exhausted from my having recently taken too long of a walk from here to St. Mary of the Isle Church, and then the Coffee Nut Cafe, around a half mile away. It’s a very annoying trip when the weather is either too hot or too cold. Maybe I could be represented by the kind of a tree that’s seen a lot of changes in the weather and circumstances in general and although it’s still doing quite well, has been knocked around a bit by its environment and other factors. It’s a sunny day in the painting. The surroundings are impressive. There’s the slightest hint, though, of exhaustion. The tree that is my life can take the occasional dose of sweltering heat. It simply needs a bit of replenishing every once in a while. There’s no trouble with the roots, leaves or fruit.
If I should have ever had the ability to be only one part man and two parts something else, I should have wanted to be two parts coffee. Just think of all the exceptionally interesting possibilities of such a lovely arrangement. It’s always been quite a very favorite thing of mine anyway. For one thing everyone so thoroughly enjoys its aroma that I could save quite an exceptionally large sum of money that would otherwise have been squandered on deodorant, toothpaste, soap and cologne. People could ask : “Hey what smells so nice?” and then realize that : “Hey it’s good old Coffee Larry!”. Up until now one of my most significant nicknames has always been B.L.T. If I were part coffee people could call be B.L.T. and coffee. That might provoke quite an awful lot of confusion at restaurants though. A waitress would walk over to someone’s table and ask him innocently: “Sir, would you like our specialty today, a B.L.T. with coffee?” and there would be lots of hurt feelings if I couldn’t show up.
In order to be as fair as possible, I should very much like to have a switch built into me so that I could change over from regular to decaffeinated in case I’m ever in the company of someone who doesn’t get to sleep very much. Everyone knows what a big problem that is. Lately I’ve been going to the Coffee Nut Cafe a lot so maybe I could take advantage of some ideas I’ve gotten from them. I could have all different kinds of flavors and serving sizes. I could have a switch for flavors from places like Italy, Costa Rica, Ireland, Peru and even Queens. People would gasp upon tasting it an exclaim: “O Wow!! This Queens flavor is something else!! It makes me feel as if I’m right over in Jackson Heights!!” A lot of people enjoy their coffee black but a lot of people like milk or some other flavoring. I’d be happy to provide all sorts of things like that. I’d be determined to have all sorts of whipped cream,cappuccino chocolate and anything else that could keep things as interesting as possible. It would even be a good idea to pack a supply of Jameson’s, anise and other alcoholic drinks in case anyone might enjoy some Irish coffee, espresso or anything else with a bit of a kick. It’s too bad I can’t be coffee. I’d truly be welcome everywhere.