An Afternoon at Starbucks

I’m sitting in a Starbucks. I just had coffee with a friend who had to run at noon to grab her daughter from preschool. I decided to sit for a spell and write on my laptop, order another drink, people watch. And the Starbuck’s Goddess has smiled upon me. There are three woman, all 60 plus, sitting in the corner next to me. They are huddled around two things: A book titled Still Life by Louise Penny, and a white folder with a homemade title on the side that says simply, Women’s Retreat. They are simultaneously talking about the book, and planning what sounds to be a church-related women’s retreat for April. They are also mercilessly making fun of some of the women going on the retreat with them, and occasionally poking fun at the woman sitting in an overstuffed chair, asleep, with a rolling suitcase at her feet. It’s disgusting. It’s not Jesus like. I can’t stop listening.

The book is a mystery novel. A 3.5 out of 5.0 on Goodreads. There’s a Chief Inspector named Gamache. One of the women is addicted to the mystery novel.

The sleeping woman with the suitcase is unmoving. I keep checking to see if her leg or arm moves. Checking to ensure she is alive. It’s cold in here. The temperature outside is a balmy 36 degrees. Winter in Atlanta has come.

One of the women refused a trip to Hawaii with her daughter and her family because they aren’t going to “the big island,” and because her son-in-law likes to decide last minute to stay extra days, and she can’t do that because her neighbor would have her dog, and what would happen if they stayed an extra day because the kids were having fun and her dog ran out of his medication, and the neighbor lost her code to her garage.

“What a disaster that would be,” says Still Life woman.

There’s a woman, Deborah, who is texting Women’s Retreat folder woman. Deborah wants to know if there is a way to join the retreat. “Is there a way?” the Women’s Retreat folder woman laughs, “Oh, I worry about Deborah sometimes.”

“She’s not techy,” Still Life woman says, “She needs help.”

“Just put her down,” Third woman says.

“No,” Women’s Retreat says, “I’ll send her the link again and she can have someone help her figure it out.”

“Maybe she won’t come,” Still Life says.

Hopefully she won’t,” mumbles one of the Christian women.

The drive-thru line crawls along. Men and women in heavy coats, beanies, earmuffs, looking like they are about to climb Mt. Everest. Jesus, it’s only 36 degrees.

“We don’t need more testimony,” Still Life says, thumbing through a stack of papers Women’s Retreat took out of the folder.

“Her testimony doesn’t even reflect others, no one will get her,” Third woman slides a paper that looks like a schedule back toward the folder and eyes the sleeping woman.

Sleeping woman wakes with a start. Pulls a red envelope from her coat pocket, quickly, as if to make sure it is still there. She examines it and sticks it in the tote bag next to her, pulls a cracker from the meat and cheese tray she bought with a gift card when she first came in, pops it in her mouth, then lays her head forward on her breasts, her long greying hard falls down over her face. She closes her eyes and munches on the cracker.

“Do you think she lives in the hotel over there?” Women’s Retreat asks, nodding her head toward the awake sleeping woman, in the maroon sweatpants, matching coat, and slippers. Her large suitcase still at her feet.

“I can’t believe Starbucks just let’s her sit here,” Still Life shakes her head.

Willie Nelson plays, “…now my hair has turned to silver/all my life I’ve loved in vain/I can see her star in heaven/blue eyes crying in the rain.”

Duke’s Christmas List

If you’re new here, Duke is my standard poodle. His full name is Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte (even though he was born in South Carolina, shh, he doesn’t like to talk about that). We named him Duke for three very different reasons. Jerimiah chose Duke because he’d always wanted a dog named Duke. He said it was a “cool dog name.” Granted, he always envisioned naming a kick-ass dog like a German Shepherd that name, but instead he got a poodle. Jackson picked the name Duke because of the big, brown, fluffy dog in the movie “The Secret Life of Pets” (our Duke is also big, brown, and fluffy), and I chose Duke because of John Wayne, obviously. Sir, because he’s French nobility (so he thinks), Barkington because that’s one awesome surname, and “of Charlotte” as one does with royal lines.

Duke, as we refer to him in casual company, is big, and goofy, and recently neutered so he’s working through some stuff. But I did sit down with him yesterday and ask him to write out a Christmas list to send “Baby Jesus.” He’s very confused about Christmas, and Santa, and religion, and well, most things. This might be a good time to tell you he’s also a Republican. He was just born that way. There’s no conversion therapy. Believe me, I’ve checked. And not that this is an excuse, but again, he was born in South Carolina.

Anyway, I asked Duke what he wanted Santa, err, Baby Jesus to bring him and he proceeded to write Baby Jesus a letter and I’m sharing it with you today just in case you have a big, brown, fluffy, Republican dog to buy for too. You’re welcome.

M.

From the Desk of Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte

Dear Baby Jesus,

Remember last year, when my family put the Christmas tree up as a sacrifice to quench your thirst for plastic? And remember when I immediately took it down, chewed up the light cord, and ate three or four of Mommy’s presents? You still gave my gifts! Remember that?! You still, even though I destroyed your sacrifice, stuffed my stocking with treats and tennis balls. Since I wasn’t the best boy last year and you still gave me gifts, well, I can tell Baby Jesus that you are a generous soul, like me! I haven’t torn the tree up once this year. Even though Mommy had my testicles removed to teach me a lesson. What the lesson was, I don’t know, but I’m trying to be better.

So in the spirit of goodness and forgiveness I bring forth my list of Christmas demands wishes. Thank you. In Baby Jesus Jeff Session’s name we pray. Merry men!

Duke’s Christmas List

  • My testicles back, if not possible then the testicles of the doctor who took mine away.
  • A Cabbage Patch Doll, sourced locally from the Cabbage Patch General Hospital, with an additional 287 Cabbage Patch Doll heads. Not cabbage heads. I may know the difference.
  • A device that allows me to get into the lid of the trash can, can be creative, one-of-a-kind device. Must be operated by mouth and frustration.
  • Box of paper clips along with a detailed description of what they are, what they do, and why they make my gums bleed when I eat them.
  • A surefire win for President Trump in the 2020 elections. Nothing with Ukraine though, we’ve tried that.
  • Seven cases of whipped cream. Can be any brand except Starbucks, I don’t shop there anymore, since they didn’t put “Merry Christmas” on their cups seven years ago.
  • Socks. Just lots of socks, no questions asked.
  • A Chick-Fil-A gift card.
  • 700 tennis balls, the good kind, you know which kind I’m talking about, don’t cheap out.
  • A wife. She can be any breed as long as she’s a standard poodle. Must be white and from the United States. No French speakers.
  • A full spa day where Mommy doesn’t remind me 50 times that what she pays for my haircuts is ten times what she pays for her own, so I “better not stay outside too long in the damn rain.”
  • A rainstorm.
  • A stuffed Grinch. I saw it at Petsmart, but Mommy wouldn’t buy it for me. She said it cost too much. I get the sneaking suspicion that my stuffies come from secondhand stores. That’s not fair. I want brand new stuffies to rip apart in less than a minute.
  • Unrestricted access to all the bathrooms in the house. And any subsequent house I find myself.
  • A Trump Chiapet.

Thanks you Baby Jesus Santa, I look forward to our time together in a few weeks, wherein you attempt to come down the chimney and I stand at the bottom and wait to bite you. Your cookies will be long gone. Better bring a taser.

Love,

Duke

Therapatsy

My therapists name is Patsy. I’ve written about her before, but I used a fake name to hide her identify because she probably doesn’t want her name associated in any way shape or form with this here blog ‘o’ mine, but today I decided that’s too damn bad because well, first of all there are a lot of Patsys in this world, and probably some of them are therapists, and also I really like Patsy and want to tell you guys about her. So, let me start over and say that my therapists name is Patsy and she’s pretty cool.

Last week she told me that she feels like she always tells me to “lie” to my family, but in a way she does, and in a way I need her to tell me to do that. Take for instance when I have to get some alone time because my mom has been at my house visiting for two weeks, and we all took an eight-hour road trip together over a long weekend and I have been feeling like I always have to talk to someone every second of every day because someone is always talking to me every second of every day. Patsy said, “Tell them you don’t feel well, and go hide in your room.” Ah, see that? Patsy just gets me.

She apologized right after, but really, I’m sorta out of options here. I told her not to worry because I already do this. I’ve been doing this for literal years. To my mom, my husband, my son, my friends. I will be all, “Oh, I have to poop. Sorry, it’s gonna be a while. You know ‘ol Missy and her gastrointestinal problems…” then I hide in the bathroom for half an hour so I don’t have to talk to anyone, or make any decisions for anyone, or pretend to be engrossed in a story about that one time my friend’s cat got out of the house and showed back up three months later with three kittens and a penchant for blood. I mean, it’s a good story, but one can only hear it so many times, so I lie and I sit in the bathroom and I listen to nothing but fucking silence. I love silence. LOVE IT.

Before my regular visits with Patsy, I would get therapy anyway I could, while telling people that therapy just wasn’t for me. I would watch Brene Brown or Oprah on repeat and hope that I learned something. I would sit on park benches and listen to other people talk, hoping they would say something inspirational. I would write. I would listen to music, I would binge watch shows about women in prison to make myself feel better about my life. Patsy sorta ended all that for me. Patsy has a calming presence. Which is way good for me. She isn’t afraid of silence, which sometimes I just need in my bi-weekly hour session. But she also can tell when we just need to jump in and get started.

Last week I was fifteen minutes late to my appointment. I HATE being late, but I had the time wrong in my calendar, and well, I just messed up. Plain and simple. Not to mention the fact that I was in the line at Starbucks when I realized I had messed up. Jerimiah was with me and he was all, “Tell her it was my fault!” (He always makes this offer to me, about anything. If I do something wrong, or say something wrong, or hurtful, he will say, “Just blame it on me!” I usually don’t, because I’m too damn honest. But the offer is nice.) When I relayed the story to Patsy, because of course I told her the truth, because I can’t lie to her—which is coincidently one of the ways I know I can really trust someone. Always has been. If I can’t lie to them, I know they are nice, and good, and my kinda people—so I didn’t lie to Patsy and she was all, “Where is the damn Starbucks? Did you leave it in the car cause you didn’t want me to see?” And I was all, “Duh.” And she was all, “Dude, don’t do that! Always bring the Starbucks in with you.” Ahhh, Patsy.

Why am I telling you about Patsy? I dunno. Because I am currently “not feeling well” and I am in my room, alone, with the door closed, while my husband and mom and kid watch a movie downstairs, and I just realized how there’s no getting around that I NEED to do this sometimes. And I shouldn’t feel bad about it. Patsy said that. And she’s a professional. So I should listen to her. I also, probably, want to take this time to tell you all to get yourself a Patsy. Or a Susan. Or an Angela. Or a Bill or a Mark. Some therapist, with some therapist-sounding name. And check in with them every once in a while. It’s helpful. And nice. Even if you just sit in silence for an hour. It’s so totally worth it.

Take care of yourself.

M.