Thursday morning arrived, and it was time for my weekly coffee date with the professor. Even though we’d spent most of the previous [Remembrance] day in one another’s company, learning the ins and outs of an overly complicated boardgame called Small World, it was Thursday. So we went for coffee. Like we do.
We had the usual ‘where do you want to go, I don’t know where do you want to go’ exchange, along with our ‘should we go for a walk or is it too cold’ exchange. Even though it’s only the second week of November and winter is going to be here for 4 more months at least, and wimping out on a walk at this stage of the game would not bode well for our winter metabolisms.
Despite not having resolved either question, we climbed into the van and the professor started driving. While I considered possible coffee options and parroted a Siri-like narrative as part of my co-pilot status. ‘You could go down 17th and take Crowchild, or you could take 37th down to Glenmore, or you could cut through Mt. Royal and take 50th avenue.’
I like to give options. The professor does not like to receive options.
‘I’ll just take 17th to Crowchild,’ he stopped me short, lest I stumbled upon a fourth or fifth alternative route.
We headed down the main thoroughfare towards the highway, and I fulfilled my co-navigator obligations of pointing out the flashing arrow in the right lane, and calling my better half’s attention to the visible brake lights in front of us. Neil Young’s nasal whine served as the soundtrack, because when the professor drives, the radio is on. ‘Neil Young is like the kale of music,’ he grumbled, as one far less enamored with the leafy green vegetable than I.
It’s another one of our ‘exchanges’, Neil Young. ‘You bought his CD,’ I reminded-blamed, summoning a vague image of a greyish-pinkish paper covered disc occupying valuable real estate in my basement. Even though Marie Kondo told me I should get rid of all my compact discs. For, she reasoned, the songs ‘that spark joy’ are surely captured in a playlist somewhere. But when I’d raised the issue with the professor he’d resisted something fierce and so, the CDs sit – untouched, collecting dust – on an IKEA shelf downstairs.
Even the CDs we don’t like, apparently.
‘Yes, I’ve also bought lots of kale and then thrown it out,’ the professor managed to continue with the analogy, in addition to reminding me that I have a slight habit of purchasing vegetables because I think I should eat them, without following through on the cumbersome ‘eating’ part.
‘I think I just bought the CD because I feel like Neil Young is good for music. Though I don’t actually like his music,’ he continued to explain the years-old puzzle of why we own Prairie Wind. The matter remained unresolved, as the car merged onto Crowchild Trail and off, a short while later. A cover of Drake’s Hotline Bling occupied our minds – despite my not knowing either who Drake is, or the title of his ‘call me on my cellphone’ song.
‘Is this the song that Ellen played in that video,’ I sounded like the 60 year old I am training to be, my mind flashing back to Ellen Degeneres’ recent spoof of Adele’s new single Hello.
‘Yes,’ the professor spoke in the slightly superior tone of the culturally relevant. Clearly in the know about things like ‘Drake’ and ‘Hot Line Bling’. I pointed in the direction of the coffee shop’s parking lot so he would know where we were headed. And then my better half made the unorthodox move of driving diagonally across the south-west corner into the lot, rather than turning onto the side street and entering the parking lot. From the entrance.
‘What are you doing?!’ I sputtered at the insanity that just played out before me.
‘What?!’ he shrugged like a crusty octogenerian, entirely immune to the rules and conventions held by others. ‘When we leave, I’m just going to drive straight out,’ he pointed at the curb and bus stop directly in front of our parking spot. As one who intends to make the most of his remaining driving time before his license is rescinded due to cataracts or macular degeneration. Or concerned children.
Just before we climbed out of the car, the DJ announced the artist associated with this particular cover of Hot Line Bling: Kalle Mattson (pronounced ‘Kale’.) ‘He really is the kale of music,’ I remarked on our way into the hipster coffee shop.
‘Whoa, they got bigger,’ the professor took in the once miniscule space which had doubled into two miniscule spaces with a shared wall. ‘Yeah, they took over the space next door,’ I shared my only culturally relevant information. Funnily enough, despite having ‘doubled’ their seating space there wasn’t really a place for us to sit and we found ourselves parked side by side on a wooden bench at the entrance. Staring at the 8 other customers awkwardly arranged on their shared wooden benches. While our Americano and cappuccino held court……on a tree stump.
It felt more Brooklyn….than Brooklyn.
Brass fixtures? Check. Handmade wooden benches? Check. Hipster-type having a conversation slash meeting with someone on his laptop screen? Check.
The professor drained the last of his cappuccino, and placed the empty mug back on the stump. One of the baristas came by within seconds to clear it. ‘What, is there some sort of sensor?’ he marveled at the timing. ‘Of course,’ he mused, ‘they only have about 12 of these [artisanal pottery mugs] so they probably need to wash them right away.’
We stayed for as long as our un-hip backs and posteriors could handle it before heading out into the brisk, snow-covered morning for a walk.