The first thing I notice is the TV antenna. It’s affixed to that skinny mast. There’s no rotor. Its pointing like a compass toward civilization. This image is testimony that although cable has yet to arrive on scene, drugs have made themselves at home here at 45 Main Street USA where “we never close.”
I snapped the picture via Blackberry while visiting this anonymous hell-hole-of-a-town, out in the Central Valley. I was late for court, representing a drug client. I was on the run, not knowing what kind of justice I was going to receive for being, what was now, ten minutes late. As usual, I was craving coffee.
That craving causes me to day dream. The dream for today was the “what a great place for a cafe fantasy.” A lot of people dream about flying, or dating someone like Heidi Klum. I dream about coffee, and where to start café’s. The mental loop started off with, just call it 45 Main, and keep it cable free. That one antenna lead would bring in a signal displaying a snowy, old school world. The TV would be black and white, strapped to the wall, tuned with a knob, by one of the baristas while standing on a stool. The press would come by and like the fact that we could only pull in one or two channels. And most importantly, we could keep the Drugs We Never Close sign by grand-fathering it via the local zoning ordinance.
I put my dream on hold until I met with the next subliminal coffee cue. I walked through the doors to Department 1.
When you are an attorney who is not a member of the local bar, the protocol is: polite, heads up, keep the hair short, and don’t loose your cool when the judge goes through a sort of scripted hazing ritual where the content is designed to prove that he or she knows more than you do. The drill is not quite a public shaming. You laugh at a few of the jokes pointed your way, and you move on.
My client’s case was on for sentencing. I knew it was going down hill when the judge called my client an addict, maybe even a dealer. He stated on the record, “Mr. so-and-so you could fly into any town in the world, and as soon as you land, you would know exactly where to go. You would go straight to the seedy part of town, and buy what ever you need to satisfy your addictions.”
The court reporters hands were bobbing up and down, next to a tall Starbucks paper cup, next to the pink folding doughnut box, which was next to the empty jury box.
I was thinking to myself, no your honor, no need to fly anywhere, 45 Main is just around the corner. They sell drugs there. It says so on the wall. DRUGS, in white letters, surrounded by a field of robins egg blue against a back drop of this wonderful big sky country of yours.
I then had a coffee epiphany.
The reporter’s bobbing hands and the Starbucks cup beside the doughnut box was the second subliminal coffee cue of the day. It reminded me that addiction is a universal human trait. Addiction is in my genetics, it’s a gene I acquired back in the day. One of my remote coffee ancestors had an error in their DNA replication. They had a DNA strand with a coffee mutation, and not even a repressor protein could cure this defect. I was made as well as I could be made. Maybe addiction, in any of its many forms is the quest for perfection, to become like gods, to find that missing piece that we believe we don’t possess, or missing link that will somehow finally satisfy us. Maybe addiction is the opportunity we take to keep us from who we really are.
As a culture we migrate from one drug to the next. My Coffee ancestor would never have left the cradle of mankind in the Olduvai Gorge, if a good espresso machine capable of producing god shots would have been available. They had to keep moving, they had to keep evolving because they only had basalt and chips of stone to tamp and grind their coffee.
So the dealer of addiction, who never closes, is going to go far in this world. This place, 45 Main, was just a block from Highway 5. It is the methamphetamine highway which begins in Mexico and links many of the small cities up and down the Central Valley of California.
The bailiff was circling to remand my client, whose last words to me before they whisked him away, “I can do the time. That’s not it, I just wanted a rehab. Jail won’t do me any good. I am an addict and need help.”
Maybe this post has taken a turn down a very dark alley about an unpopular subject. I need coffee every morning. I suffer withdrawal if I don’t get it. It seems to improve my life. I enjoy it in a big way. Right now I am enjoying some Mexican Zaragoza. from my Chemex.
I’ll drive to any part of town to satisfy my addiction, but make mine legal.
What about you?
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