24 June 2009

saying goodbye, another installment - part iv, the notorious coffee shop

I spent the better part of the morning in a truck with an 80+ year old man going 35 in a 55mph zone. He is a parishioner and like so many of the folk at Lime Rock Baptist is more like family. I asked him if he would say a few words at the service this Sunday, he agreed. Over breakfast (I'm coming to that in a minute) he said he had composed a 3 minute essay and asked if I wanted to hear it. I said I did not. But he insisted on telling me the first line. Here goes, "How in the hell did we get that bastard up here?" I do not know if he is serious; more than likely he is.

Now back to breakfast. For about five years this particular parishioner has been telling me about this bizarre coffee shop located in one of the five villages on the town of Lincoln. He kept telling me that I would not believe it. Reluctantly I agreed to go to this place. At 8am I was picked up and escorted to this place. We entered; the owner sat, acknowledged us, finished playing the video slot machine then poured us a cup of coffee. In the meantime my associate and I took our seats at the counter. To the right of me were two boxes full of individually "full-sized" packaged donuts: plain and cinnamon; beside them was a box of the mini six pack donuts of various coatings. Across from me on the other side of the counter was a coffee pot, a large tupperware bowl of sugar (a "regular" coffee in New England consist of three spoons of sugar and a good shot of milk), a large jar of grape jelly (Pricerite brand) whose lid was unlevel the last time it was sealed which gave it a droopy and sad look, a four slice toaster which had not been used since Nixon was in office (you pick between governor of CA or POTUS), a plastic bag full of bagels and a griddle/hot plate contraption.

Our coffee was served in scratched and coffee stained cups. After 15 minutes or so some other patrons entered. Now here is the catch about this place: everyone helps themselves. They walk behind the counter, pour their coffee or toast their bagel while the owner sits in the corner and plays on the video slot machine. You dare not ask for eggs or something more substantial; there is no menu; and the owner gets ticked - I was forewarned. It could be the only business where the proprietor gets mad if you ask her to do something that could very easily be interpreted as work.

After we finished our cups of coffee (we were asked if we wanted refills but we said no, in a polite way) my associate asked if the owner would show me the backroom. The backroom? Years ago the establishment used to be a strip club/pool room/bar. And the backroom was pretty much left as was, except for the continual "inside" yard sale that went on. Massive slate top pool tables, a bar (built with pine), and bizarre vanity license plates that read "Don't stare at the bartender you too will be crazy one day."

Am I glad we went? Sure, but for reasons I am unforsureof at the moment.

We finished our coffee and went off to another destination for breakfast. My navigator suggested a place he had not been to in ages; apparently it is not there anymore. We drove on into Franklin, MA (it is right across the border). We drove until we found a policeman (yes, our move to park directly behind him in the middle of the road did not sit well with him) whom we inquired of where was the best place to get breakfast in this town? He suggested the pizza parlor right next to the Mega Lo Mart grocery store. A pizza parlor that has good breakfast in a strip mall - no way. We decided not to chance it and went back to Woonsocket for breakfast at a regular breakfast stop.

While I have you here... Woonsocket lies to the north and west of Lincoln. It is an okay town, could be a first class place. But if you ever enter 295 from Phoenix Avenue you are given two options:

You decide?

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