Friday, November 7, 2008

I Won't Drink Tim Hortons Coffee Unless It's Brewed By Joseph Boyden

Not many people know that before he became a successful mousse model/writer Joseph Boyden used to work at Tim Hortons. He worked at the Yonge/Bloor branch, making donuts and muffins, cleaning tables, and scrubbing floors. I once saw him throw out a homeless woman who'd spent the night sleeping in the utility closet. When I asked him how she'd managed to sleep in the 3x3 room, Boyden told me, "After six days, you get a little tired." Boyden picked her up, carried her out the door, and dropped her in an empty parking spot. She got fifteen bucks for the spot, and when Boyden went to pay for a banana on his way home from work he realized that his wallet was gone.

In fact, Boyden spent a lot of him time at Tim's researching Three Day Road. There was an Native fellow who used to come in at around seven o'clock every morning, buying a large cup of regular coffee, staring out the window at the sunrise, then leaving the full cup on a table just beside the door. He didn't even take a sip; he just left the full cup sitting on the table.

One day Boyden got curious, and he decided to ask the man what he was doing. What was the rationale behind his behaviour? Was this some kind of spiritual offering?

So when the guy came in, Boyden was ready. "Excuse me, sir," he said. "But I notice that you come in every day, buy a coffee, and leave it on the table. Why?"

"Well," the man said, "you serve the hottest coffee in town."


"And my hands are just so cold in the morning, I feel good holding the cup. It warms me up."

"Oh," Boyden said. "I feel a bit foolish. See, I thought it was...or could have been some kind of spiritual ritual. I thought that your god could have been involved in some way."

"Spiritual?" The man laughed. "No! Not spiritual at all. In fact, I'll tell you what I do--it's not spiritual at all. I'm a male prostitute."

"A male prostitute? Really? Wow. I guess that you can't have cold hands in a job like that."

"Oh, no! It's exactly the opposite. You go to Alice Munro with warm hands, she'll defrost right there on the spot. I use an electric blanket when we fuck."

"An electric blanket? Why?"

"Condom's got no insulation."

But Boyden couldn't use that--he has no aptitude for comedy. He once told a joke to Rudy Wiebe's step-son, and Wiebe said, "It was funny, Joe, but Mazo de la Roche told it better."

Boyden's a writer I like, and I'll continue to read his work. I'd rather drink his coffee, though. He made a really good cup of coffee. He put cinnamon in it--something like that. It was almost a French Vanilla, but there was an almondy taste. It's really too bad that he had to get famous. He knew just the right amount of milk to put in the pot. That's right, he brewed it with the milk already added.

Firemen used to come into the Tim's just to get Boyden's coffee. I'd see them standing in line: "What are you gonna get?" "The coffee." "Anything else?" "Maybe a donut." "Gonna get a donut." "Maybe a coffee and a donut." "Drink it here?" "Here, outside." "Yeah." "They've got new cups. Look at that." "No, they're the same." "Look new." "Yeah." "What's taking him so long?" "He's got to make it." "It's made." "Can't be." "Look." "Oh yeah."

The man was a genius.

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