PHUKET: I’ve just checked out of the emergency room, covered in bandages not dissimilar to those worn by the damaged star of the movie The English Patient, or perhaps more fittingly, Return of the Mummy.
Anyway, same-same but different, said the man outside the sliding hospital door.
My horrific accident that will no doubt result in permanent scars, comes from my downright addiction to coffee.
One boiling latte, which was filled to the brim by a low-level front-counter attendant, who was far more concerned about her Lady GaGa smartphone ringtone than securing the top on my overflowing cup, is the antagonist in this true-life tale.
My aggressive nature prompts on my mind’s movie time to return to the shop, seek out the aimless aggressor and let her crouch in fear as I go into lunatic rage mode. I can nearly smell the napalm in the morning (if you don’t get this reference please watch Apocalypse Now immediately). But the thought of Brando amped up on too many double espresso’s strikes fear in my heart.
Thankfully, he is still dead and can’t get to the nearest Starbucks. My imagination continues to froth in preparation for the untimely trapeze fall, but hey, I’m used to working without a net – writing at times with fingers that don’t have a clue what letter comes next, as I embark on a long journey with an absolutely empty suitcase.
Beans, beans those magnificent coffee beans. Waking hours are punctuated by that glorious dark brew. Whenever I’m in Phuket, each morning is like some long forgotten religious ceremony from the dawn of time. Huddling over a large cafe latte at the all too familiar Bake, suddenly my inner beast is calm and the world is right as I slowly sip my way to sanity.
Over the years, my unrequited love affair with coffee has made me miss airplanes, skip important meetings, nearly get divorced and landed me in jail. Take it from me; coffee in jail is no picnic.
Imagine airline coffee, or worse, those glass brewing pots stuck in the hotel buffet line, and of course a cellmate named Big Al. Enough on that subject.
Capitalism struck such a high note with Starbucks; imagine selling a cup of hot water and beans for five dollars or more.
Yet, whenever I walk into a branch, that warm fuzzy feeling creeps up my leg like the neighbor’s runaway cat. Purring, caressing and looking for more. Ouch, my ears start to bleed as Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever plays on in MP3 land. Ted, oh Ted, you were great before you went over the edge into Tea Party mania. I’m distracted by the cat thing, as I find the furry things annoying, disloyal and basically useless.
A rubber duck has far more personality and a small turtle in a bowl is a better life companion. Just last night, my tablemate to the right talked about how she had her favorite dog stuffed when he died and placed underneath the piano.
Cats on the other hand are surely headed for a purgatory far worse than anyone could imagine – except perhaps a one-hour timeshare sales pitch.
Or standing in line at Phuket International Airport’s immigration section for 76 minutes. This is the approximate time I spent last week after disembarking a large charter flight from some place I can’t even pronounce.
So the cat is out of the bag, my life’s Jerry Maguire is complete and the bean has enslaved me in a wicked web of lifelong addiction. Thousands of dollars squandered and countless hours of time wasted sitting silently sipping in innocent bliss. Leave the gimp where he is, damn the torpedoes, I’m going for a triple crown – tres as the Spanish say – if only my bandaged hands can fit into my pocket to get out some more money.
Where is a cat when you need one?
Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of C9Hotelworks and can be contacted through C9hotelworks.com.
— Bill Barnett
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