01 February 2011

My Name is Juan Valdez, What's Your Sign?

I walked into a west-side resale shop the other day with the expressed purpose of finding the perfect percolator. I think you know the sort of percolator I am talking about here – didn't we all have them somewhere in our childhood? Whether it was at grandma's house or in our own kitchen, there was that percolator – silver, aerodynamic and capable of producing coffee like we used to make it in this country. Seventy-five years ago Americans used to make coffee that was worthy of respect, coffee that could stand up on its own and look you in the eyes like a man, coffee that was served steamy, hot, black and in a porcelained tin cup. The theme song from “Bonanza” might even start playing when you drank that coffee – never mind that Bonanza wasn't around seventy-five years ago.

Coffee at the logging camp. Coffee on the cattle path. Coffee at the hunting camp. Coffee at grandma's house. The kind of coffee and percolators that Aldo Leopold wrote about with such great affection. That was coffee and those were coffee makers, by gum. No stubbly-chinned, bleary-eyed barrista handing you a paper cup with a corrugated sleeve so as not to burn your precious hand, no sir. You know the percolator, and you remember the coffee. Maybe you do, at any rate.

Anyhow, I walked into a west-side resale shop looking for that very percolator and came up very short handed, indeed. The only percolator there that day had a “strength adjustment lever” on it. I always thought the handle of the coffee-ground scoop was the “strength adjustment lever” - more coffee grounds, stronger coffee; fewer coffee grounds, weaker coffee. Perhaps I have missed something in the intervening years. I walked away from the household appliance section of that resale shop very empty handed, I can assure you.

The only thing to really catch my eye was a certain paperback on the shelves. Complete Horoscope – Taurus, 1979. It was sitting there, mixed in with a number of other obscure but interesting titles. I noted with some interest that it had not been marked down and thrown into the “clearance” bin.

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “if not now, when?”

Maybe 1979 is more relevant than we thought. And perhaps the sign of Taurus is making a big comeback or something.

Maybe not.

I will just keep looking for the perfect percolator.

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