Monday, February 25, 2008

Goodbye to Bad Ass

My favorite local coffee haunt, Bad Ass Coffee Company, closed its doors last month. It was a franchise store, and started out well, no doubt aided a bit by a barrage of local controversy over its name. But business dwindled over time, especially with higher gasoline prices.

I'll miss it because it was the nearest coffee place equipped with wireless internet to our home. I'll also miss it because Dylan and I had become attached to the girls who worked there, who were always friendly and who always made Dylan feel special. I'd often take Dylan there after school, where he'd have hot chocolate and a snack. I'd have tea. He would finish his homework, and we'd talk about his day at school. It was our Special Dude place.

Dylan's reaction to the name has been funny. Rhonda and I take the position with him that if he wants to use "bad" words while at home, with no company present, he can spew them out to his heart's content. (Public settings are a different matter.) Of course, since we've taken the forbidden fruit aspect of bad words away, he never uses them. In fact, we have our own Language Nazi in the house: if Rhonda or I slip up and use a bad word, he's on us like a duck on a June bug. But then, profit motive may play a part in that, since we've agreed to contribute to his "Bad Language Jar" when we let one of those words slip.

So, Dylan couldn't bring himself to ask, "Can we go to the Bad Ass Coffee place?" No, it would always be, "Daddy, can we go to the Bad A-S-S Coffee place?", or simply, "Can we go to the Bad Donkey?" I tried to explain to Dylan that "ass" is just another word for "donkey," and that in that context, it wasn't really a bad word. Dylan wouldn't buy it.

It was hard to tell Dylan that "our" place was closing down. He's seven, and he doesn't cry very often, but when I told him the news, he got in my lap, buried his face in my chest, and wept. It just slayed me. The closing of a coffee haunt doesn't rank high on the list of Life's Big Tragedies, but I hate it when my son hurts. Heck, I have to remind myself that he has to learn to deal with disappointment, lest he enter adulthood an emotionally crippled wimp.

I was surprised at my reaction to the closing. But then, establishments can sneak into a real presence in our lives, before we're even aware of how much they've become part of what we call "home." Bad Ass was like that for me. I liked the atmosphere, the lighting, the friendliness of the employees (although it took a while for me to get over them yelling "ALOHA!" when I walked in the door), and the mix of customers: from young to old, from professional to proletarian, from hip to staid.

I do most of my writing while away at work, but when I did write while on my off time, it was usually at Bad Ass. When I'm at home, I'm aways aware that I could be out cutting weeds, chopping firewood, or shoveling llama poop. If I were to ever become adept and prolific enough to make a living as a writer, I wonder if I could manage to juggle house husband duties and writing like local crime novelist and newspaper columnist Steve Brewer does. The distractions of being in a public place seem to help me focus on my writing, while the distractions of home chores don't.

This is not to say that I'm always Mr. Productive when I crank up my computer in a public place. The truth is, I often get pulled into what online buddy and soon to be first-time papa Algernon calls the "Laptop Undead." I intend to check my email, read a couple of blogs, and get down to business. But too often, two hours have floated by while I'm plugged in, and when I look at my watch, I wonder if I've been abducted by aliens.

I'll miss the people at Bad Ass Coffee Company, even if they were in cahoots with the aliens. The folks who owned the franchise no doubt poured their hopes, dreams, and lots of time into the place. If that isn't bad enough, they're losing their home of thirty years as well. Damn. That makes me feel kind of sheepish about all of my petty little complaints.

Meanwhile, I have my eyes open for another father-and-son Special Dude place. There's a Starbucks just a bit down the road from the Bad Ass location, but I'm not ready to sell my soul to Starbucks just yet.


Anonymous said...

I think we're quickly reaching a point in our world where no matter what street corner you stand on, it will look like every other street corner, no matter where in the country you are. You'll see Staples, Starbucks, CVS, and Barnes and Noble. We're losing any sense of quaintness (unless you can call "quaintly decorated" Dunkin Donuts quaint).

David said...

That stinks. Maybe ya'll can make an adventure out of 'auditioning' a new Dude Place.

Redlefty said...

The Starbucks just down the road certainly explains the shutdown.

I live in the city that was noted in a comedy bit for having a "Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks". It really exists, about five miles north of my house.

I'll mourn alongside you in the loss of a unique place.

Roland said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.


Uncle E said...

I have every confidence you'll find another special place. But until then...

debby said...

Oh, your conversation with YOUR Dylan about bad words reminds me of a conversation I had with MY Dylan about bad words. He was ferociously beside himself about something (probably 10 or so) and he was so mad he was crying. He howled, "I'm so mad, I wish I could swear." I looked at him in astonishment and said, "Well, go for it." After a moment of suspicious staring, he let loose with a barrage of cussing. And when he was done, he sat there and said, "Am I really allowed to swear?" I said, "Well, you're pretty smart. You should be able to figure out if you talk like that in school, you'll be punished. And I'm not going to bail you out of that. If you talk like that around other parents, they probably won't want you playing with their children. So I figure you'll be smart enough to know when you should not swear."

So that's the way they were raised, and like your Dylan, there was surprisingly little swearing at our house.