Observations from Buckstars Coffee Shop


I’m home from picking up prescription refills to paint a story-picture.  Note to self (the umpteenth): always, always carry a pen and paper!

Having dropped off written prescriptions for repeats of my head meds, I walk briskly in the fresh cold wind over to the Cabbagetown location of Buckstars to wait.  A grande Americano should fill the time nicely.

As I pull open the door my sense of smell is flooded, not with the many varieties of beans ground here, with the overpowering smell – scent would be too subtle a descriptor – of cologne.

There, seated at a wooden table and chairs set right inside the door, is a man whose description deserves at least a paragraph so I continue to the counter and order my drink.  Then I make a quick stop in the loo while the barista does his thing.

Soon, cup in hand, I return to the front of the shop where a cushy chair is, thankfully, available on which to seat my emaciated bum – but I have to whisk by the aforementioned man first, his cologne hitting me before, during and after my walk-past.

I carefully place my cup on the table in front of my chair, tuck my back-pack beside me, and shed first my toque, then my outer jacket, followed by the inner fleece.  (I’m going to be wearing Craig’s much warmer coat tonight – it is that cold in the wind.)

Again wishing I had a pen and paper or even a phone to text myself some notes, I carefully observe the subject in the window seat.

He presents shiny black hair, leather complexion either of southern European extraction or the product of a tanning bed’s fourth visit (think John Boehner).  The cologne continues to waft throughout the front of the shop as the door opens and closes.  Although he is seated the entire time I am there, I assess that he is not exceptionally tall as his feet tuck underneath his chair quite easily.  What he lacks in height he makes up for in girth.  He is quite rotund – not a Mayor Ford (sworn in today) overweight but large enough so as not to be able to see his black shoes which are so shiny that he might otherwise be able to examine his nose hairs without any eye strain.  He wears a black mock turtleneck shirt-sweater under a big-not-tall blazer, burnt gold in colour with a faint black check pattern throughout, with matching black slacks.  I did not take note of his right side, which faced the window, but on his left he wore a large gold watch and gold accordion-style wristband, and a gold pinkie ring that rode right up to his knuckle with a setting, which filled that entire space, of what looked more like shards of glass than diamonds in a flat bed of something resembling white marble.

Yet this is not Liberace reincarnated.

He looks quite gruff so, as he regularly checks his watch, fanning his scent like a disposable air changer, I guess that he might be a fight promoter or maybe a boxer’s manager – there being a youth boxing centre nearby if I’m not mistaken.

I hum along to an ambient recording of Ian and Sylvia singing “Four Strong Winds” before I assemble my outerwear and venture back over to the pharmacy, wishing it was Christmas cinnamon and not cologne I was smelling as I push the door open.  Less is more, Sir.  Less is more.

An early afternoon visit to my doctor (the g.p.) leaves me feeling buoyant enough to record this story in my head.  Blood pressure: 120 over 80.  Weight: up five pounds.  This is all good!

This evening I again head into the cold wind for a previously-booked appointment with a CT scanner.  I have no reason to believe it is anything serious. But a year-old sinus infection, lessened somewhat with two more rounds of antibiotics recently, bears further examination by the ear, nose and throat specialist I saw a few weeks ago.  It is, it seems to me, a luxury of living in the downtown core of a city that would allow me to walk over to the hospital for an 8:30 pm CT scan.  These are my kind of hours!

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