Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Michael Ondaatje Is A Prick; He Deserves Bulldog Coffee

There's a coffee house in Toronto called the Bulldog Cafe. They make great coffee. The coffee is excellent; only don't ask for coffee. Ask for a latte or a Cafe Americano.

It's a great place to sit and get treated like shit. I went in there a month ago and ordered a coffee. I don't know the history of the coffee bean; I have no idea what happens to coffee when you release its essential elements and add hot milk. But I have a friend whose avowed homosexuality keeps him anchored to Church Street despite the impossibility of finding parking for his Lexus SC430 (his summer car) and his Lexus RX350 (his winter car).

Last month that friend and I went to the Bulldog to have a drink and maybe talk for an hour. It was an experience only few TTC riders'll ever have. I ordered a latte and tried to pay with a twenty. The guy behind the counter looked at me like I'd just vacuum-aborted octuplets in his revolving door. "Don't you have any change?" He asked/spit. The bill was $8.74. I didn't know that I had to travel with a coin purse just to avoid merchants thumbing a quarter and a thin zinc cent.

"No, sorry," I told him.

Then he thrust the latte at me. I thought that I was going to have to catch it. It's the first time that I've ever had someone say, "Here!" and simultaneously hand me a scalding drink.

So I sat down with my friend, and we talked. It took about ten minutes to finish the latte. Then we got the eye. The guy looked at us and said, "Well, this isn't a library." Really? Then how'd you explain the guy in the corner using a copy of Green Grass, Running Water to give himself papercuts on his glans?

I said to my friend, "Let's get the hell out of here." And as we got up to leave, someone yelled at us: "Clean up your cups!"

What the fuck? What kind of antebellum plantation did we wander onto? At any moment there was a risk that we'd be asked-told to tote dat barge or lift dat bale. I told my friend to run if he didn't have time for a brief middle passage. And he's a skin doctor who was on a lunch break, so clients would be upset if he turned up, say, three months from now in South Carolina. To the counter help: Clean up your own goddamn cups. You own the place. You've got people working for you; though I know that they'd rather be watching Friends episodes streamed on Ninjavideo.

Then something happened that made it all worthwhile: Michael Ondaatje walked in. No one recognized him, but I'd seen him in that suit a hundred times. He walked to the register and said, "Give me a coffee."

"Aren't you going to say the magic word?"

And then Ondaatje just walked out. Turned around and walked out. Later that day I saw him in a Pizza Pizza on Wellesley. Ondaatje's the kind of guy who needs his ego stroked. And maybe his balls too; I don't know. Though I've heard stories.


就是這 said...

Every why has a wherefore.........................................

The Toff said...

Thank you for the posting; this was great to read! Avoid those pretentious coffee places.
By the way, I met Ondaatje a few years ago and have my own story...but nothing was stroked...

Aya said...

I hate Ondaatje's writing. It may be modern classic, and he may be one of Canada's literary heroes, but I have no idea why. Seems like the type of guy who'd feel superior to everyone, though.

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