Saturday had already turned out to be six shades of splendid and it wasn’t even 9 A.M. yet. To begin with, he had rolled out of bed this morning with nary an ache or a pain throughout his entire body. Now that was a welcomed rarity at his age. Then there was the fact that he wasn’t feeling the least bit hung-over. Even after a fun-filled Friday night of heavy drinking and ingesting some cannabis edible in the form of a passion fruit flavored lollipop which purportedly contained a whopping 66 milligrams of THC. Next, after brushing his teeth and enjoying a bracing shower, the toenail of the big toe of his right foot had finally fallen off to reveal a healthy new one had almost fully grown in place of it. Both big toes of both feet had been annoyingly injured in an incident he was fond of referring to as that bad day in new shoes. More about the fun Friday, that alcohol, marijuana munchables, and the injury incident later, so just stick around.
It was July 18, 2020, and the sun was shining as bright as the smile on his face as he gazed out of one of the six open screened windows that some anonymous architect had thoughtfully thought to incorporate in the design of the tiny apartment where he dwelled on Sixth Street. There were three windows to look out of installed in the eastside and three on the southern wall of the place he now fondly called home. Surveying the neighborhood outside as far as his weakening vision would still allow he raised his hands above his head, wiggled his fingers like twitching tentacles, and sighed, “Oh Hobohemia, how I love thee!” That little thingamajig with the fingers he liked to think of as being his official Hobohemian salute. In reality, it was purely a tepid reinterpretation of what dancers called jazz hands.
Friday had begun with rain showers, but by late afternoon the sun had broken through the clouds of an overcast sky as he wrapped up the day’s work at 5 P.M. on the dot. For a few minutes, he’d debated whether to take advantage of the improved weather and walk to The Court Street Restaurant and Bar for dinner outside at their StrEatery or Sidewalk Café. Each of which was merely a half dozen or so tables lined along the wall of a building adjacent to the restaurant and only a half a sidewalk away from another six or more tables placed inside the barricaded area of the street that had been dubbed the StrEatery. The symmetry of this situation was pleasing if you were either afflicted with OCD or possessed a discerning eye for symmetry, and he admittedly did love himself some sweet, sweet symmetry.
You see, since the local government had prohibited bars and restaurants from permitting patrons to dine and imbibe inside because of the coronavirus pandemic, as an alternative, some of these establishments were currently allowed to offer outdoor seating in addition to takeout and delivery service. He rarely dined in at The Court Street Restaurant’s bar or tables after work, instead opting to sit alone at their bar savoring a drink or two while reading whatever book he was currently engrossed in, waiting until the food he had ordered for takeout was brought to him to bring back home to eat while he watched Netflix. He was always reading something and pretty much kept to himself. But over nearly a decade of dropping in at C-Street he’d begun to feel relaxed and comfortable enough to not only engage in conversation with those who worked there, but he’d also become acquainted with a few of the regulars as well.
Sue10 was one of those regulars or a bar stool buddy as he liked to joke, with who he’d often drink and converse. Sitting perched on the tall bar stools at the southeast corner of the bar while being served by Jeff the bartender, they’d banter back and forth with him, along with Dan, Kevin, Dr. Artie, and Laura as they drank. Dan and Kevin owned C-Street. Kevin was a Dogfather, as well as a fervent ice hockey fan. Dan, when not at the restaurant, spent his time purveying fresh seafood, vegetables, and other kitchen staples from local retailers. Both were always ready to stop whatever they might be doing to speak and laugh with you. Every now and then Dan would return from the kitchen with small plates of petites bouchées food samples for those parked at the southeast corner of the bar to get an opinion on new preparations they were experimenting with behind the scenes.
Dr. Artie had earned his name the day he announced he’d graduated from college and someone at the bar quipped, “Oh, I guess we’re going to have to start calling you Dr. Artie from now on, right?” Artie was the de facto floor manager and was also responsible for dealing with the wine, beer, and spirits distributors. His overseeing of the Court’s celebrated wine cellar had earned them several Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence citations over the years. The good doctor was an avid Phish fan and a follicly [sic] proficient grower of facial hair.
Jeff always remembered what your favorite drink was and made sure bread, olive tapenade, and any other sides or assorted condiments were inside the bag of your takeout order. Listening to Jeff and Dr. Artie’s back and forth chatter with each other while they worked was like eavesdropping on a conversation between Batman and Robin. These two food and beverage brothers from different mothers who always had each other’s back made jokes at one another’s expense for the amusement of those fortunate enough to be in the listening distance at the bar.
Laura worked the floor as a server. She had the brightest smile in all of Hobohemia and had mastered the art of the covert eye roll, rolling them in exasperation so everyone in proximity would see except the one who the roll was directed at. Along with the megawatt smile, she shared her infectious laughter with anyone confronted by life’s absurdities. The aforementioned are only a few of the wonderful members who were part of the C-Street team all-stars. It was Laura who answered the phone when he instead of taking a short walk for an outside table at the Court Street Sidewalk Café or their StrEatery had decided to call for a delivery.
The eateries that were allowed to serve customers outside during the COVID-19 lockdown are able to do so only by adhering to some strict rules and regulations. The number of tables for diners was severely limited and each had to be distanced at least six feet apart. No more than six people could be seated at a table. Each dining area had to be cleaned and disinfected between use, as were the menus and salt and pepper shakers. This was factored in the decision he’d have a meal delivered to relish while watching something on his Netflix queue instead of hogging a whole table for just himself, thus preventing the restaurant from maximizing their already crimped seating arrangement. An additional factor in that equation was the diagnosis from a young female physician that he secretly had a crush on and whom he’d given the nickname ‘My Hot Doc’, had shared with him years ago, that he suffered from a seriously severe case of chronic laziness.
He and Sue10 had decided to move their bar stool buddy relationship to the next level and become tablemates simply because of those burdensome rules and regs food and beverage businesses now bore. Since both lived on their own and neither felt it was fair to sit alone at one of those tables, considering the restaurant’s currently limited table seating, they settled upon an arrangement. The two agreed to an open relationship whereas each was free to go wherever they wanted without one another, but would come together to share their bodies with each other when either needed a body in the seat opposite them at some restaurant. It was a cozy arrangement!
Before caving into ordering out he’d noticed Sue10 posting beach pictures from the Jersey Shore on Facebook, so he knew she’d probably be sunning in Manasquan, NJ, on the beach instead of sweating it out in Hobohemia for the next few days. Hence, not wanting to be a selfish solo diner, particularly on a Friday night, he called 201-795-4515, and Laura answered the phone. They had a nice bit of the ol’ chitchat after which he rattled off the list of the foods he hungered for that evening; a half dozen Stormy Bay oysters on the half shell along with an equal amount of Littleneck clams, a U-12 jumbo shrimp cocktail, and one chilled steamed artichoke with a mustard dipping sauce. While awaiting its arrival he uncorked a modest bottle of Concha Y Toro 2018 Frontera Chardonnay that had been chilling in his refrigerator intended for just such an occasion.
Prior to picking up the phone, he’d ingested a 66 milligram THC infused passion fruit flavored lollipop from the freezer, and before gingerly peeling off a cellophane wrapper, read the following instructions from a small piece of paper attached to its stem.
To Our Fellow Members Of The Lollipop Guild
To fully enjoy the 66 calories (wink, wink) of these tasty treats remove packaging thusly:
1) Untwist the gold twisty seal.
2) Unwrap the cellophane from the lollipop stem.
3) Part the cellophane until you’re able to grip each side of the cellophane wrapper between your thumb and index finger.
4) SLOWLY peel the cellophane away from each sticky face of the lollipop so it doesn’t tear, until you are able to remove it entirely.
5) On the stripped cellophane there will be quite a bit of sticky residue, so don’t waste it.
6) You know what to do, lick it off the cellophane (waste not – want not), then lick the lollipop.
7) Welcome to OZ! Remember to tell the Tin Man to say “Hi!” to his mom. He’ll know what we mean.
8) CHILL OUT & ENJOY THE FIREWORKS!!!!
If anyone was wondering, all of those directions were followed to the letter and in about 20 minutes he felt himself floating gently up into the Land of Oz.
The food arrived in less than twenty minutes from the call. The shrimp cocktail was stored in the refrigerator for later and the oysters, clams, and artichoke were washed down by the iced Chardonnay as he watched a documentary about Jeffrey Epstein on Netflix. Dinner was followed by a few cocktails along with another Netflix program before climbing into bed for the night. There may have been dreams during the night, but if there were, they were not remembered by the time morning arrived in its many shades of splendor.
The day before, he’d loaded his Cuisinart Automatic Grind & Brew genuine grinder basket to the brim with French Vanilla Crème coffee beans, capped it with the grinder assembly lid, and made a twelve cup carafe of fresh coffee. When the last drop of water had dripped through the brewer, the pot was removed from the machine and left to cool in the kitchen while he worked in the other room. Once at room temperature, the container was then left in the refrigerator to be used for iced coffee when chilled.
Dropping six ice cubes in one of the handled mason jars he kept frosty in the freezer he filled it to the top with the chilled French Vanilla Crème coffee and decided to plan what steps to take next to get the most out of this splendidly sunny Saturday.
Step 1: Enjoy the iced coffee to the last drop.
Step 2: Close and lock all the apartment windows.
Step 3: Put on the mandatory pandemic facemask before leaving the building.
Step 4: Be sure to lock the apartment door.
Step 5: Walk downstairs to the street.
Step 6: Accept that his feet knew where they wanted to go, and then just start walking as far as they’ll go.
Splendid, yes it was an absolutely splendid plan! After all, you’ll never know until you try…
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I felt like I was actually part of this story, walking in your characters shoes. The imagery was so tangible. It also feels incredibly relatable.
Thank you, Laura. For me the tale was about celebrating an ordinary day, which in my opinion are often under appreciated.
What a splendid day in Hobohemia indeed ;) I was an enjoyable read. It's an art -a lot of work in fact - writing well about a lazy day. I loved the lighthearted tone, the carefree atmosphere at that restaurant (I'd like to visit now :). Your main character is very likable and many of us can identify with him. Who doesn't enjoy some yummy food (others have cooked for us) and binge watch Netflix until you fall asleep on the sofa until the next day? I loved the instructions 'to the fellow members of the Lollipop Guild", especially the no. 8, ...
Gabriela, thank you for reading, enjoying and commenting. Sometimes it's the little things that can make life so sweet...
Once again Stevie, wonder work.
Thank you, Philip!
This gave me the best sort of laugh. From the edibles to the brand new toenail that was there upon waking, and him being so excited about it.. All around quirky and unique.
Guess it's the little things in life that really count.
All the great details bring this story to life! Even your side characters are so well fleshed out by description. The "open relationship" as tablemates is very amusing.
L.M., thank you for reading, enjoying, and commenting. As is often said: the devil's in the details...
Makes me want some iced coffee 😻 great story!
Sharon, thank you for reading, enjoying, and commenting.
Oh happy day!
Each day is a gift!
This was an awesome story. It was fun to read and very well crafted. You are very skillful. Well done :)) Could you please read my latest story if possible? :)) Thanks :))
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Color me happy. The odds are in my favor of waking up tomorrow well and alive!