Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I remember drinking coffee at the Zen Cafe....

It was a little coffee shop just off the main drag on Robson Street in Vancouver. The year, somewhere around 1986 or 87. (My memory is VERY unreliable from this time!) All I know is, I'd stay out dancing and partying til late, late, late. The 12 noon blast from the BC Hydro building would wake me up. I'd make myself presentable, and head straight for the Zen to meet the tribe. We'd sit there drinking coffee for hours, creating all sorts of rituals around the drinking of the cup.

I'd pour in two creamers and NEVER use a spoon. We all decided that it was much prettier to watch the cream mingle with the coffee naturally, without help of stirring. If you really ponder the swirling cream, you can't help but start thinking of the universe and it's constant turning...I'd almost get dizzy at the thought of it.

We'd have contests to see who could flip an un-opened creamer the most times without making a mistake. If you flipped it with just the right amount of force, it would make a complete rotation and land upright, ready to be flipped again. My personal record was in the high fifties, this after hours of practice.

There we'd sit, tattooed, dread-locked, leather-clad youngsters--pondering our cream swirling in our coffee. We'd discuss the art work on the walls, we'd make plans for outings, we'd debate the meaning of life...all very bohemian, really. The owner of the cafe never seemed to mind us sitting there, spending only a dollar or two, taking up five or six tables. He must not have been very busy. I don't recall ever thanking him for that. We were all so self-absorbed, it probably never entered our minds.

To this day, I refuse to use a spoon to stir my coffee.

16 comments:

just a Jesus addict said...

Maybe it was you guys that made him look busy! I could think of a lot worse things in youth to do than sitting around drinking coffe pondering life. I wish I was that phylisophical at that age, I was more of a barbarian at that time in my life.

Spoke said...

Word History:
It is hard to believe that a word as Asian as Zen is ultimately an Indo-European word. Zen, which has been in English since 1727, is the Japanese pronunciation of Chinese chán, “quietude.” Chán comes from Pali jhna, from Sanskrit dhynam, “meditation,” from the Sanskrit root dhy-, dh-, “to see, observe.” The Indo-European root behind the Sanskrit is *dhei-, *dhy-, “to see, look at.” This root also shows up in Greek, where *dhy- developed into s-, as in Common Greek *sma, “sign, distinguishing mark.” This became sma in Attic Greek, the source of English semantic.

You and yer hoodlum friends were on the mark in the "Zen Cafe"

Take 2 said...

Cool story!!! So I shall never offer you a spoon again while drinking coffee at our house!

It is cool reading different stories from your life. These are things I don't know if we would ever talk about otherwise.

Talk to you soon.

Kim said...

Huh...I love it when people feel that they can sit in my cafe for hours at a time just hanging out. One place I worked, I remember the owners getting mad if someone stayed longer than an hour, feeling they were wasting tables on people who weren't paying, but to me that's most of the reason for a cafe.
It's also why YWAM has a habit of opening cafe's as a way to outreach, people can come into it and talk with one another, and you can talk to them for any amount of time. (In places like India, it's chai-houses). I've been offered by a friend to help her start a cafe up on the Haight in SF. I'm SO tempted!

Pondering Pig said...

Two words vibrate for me from this evocative post, Paula (can I say PJ?) "the tribe". It makes remember that same period, being 19, 20, 21, walking thru the door of the scene and there everybody is, all the coolest people in the world to me, and they are all lookin up and going "hey Man". My People. The Tribe. And frittering away long warm afternoons tossing creamers and cursing fate. Thanks for the memory - it's one of the best parts of being young -- if you're lucky enough to have a tribe.
That was several wars ago.
"With hungry hearts thru the heat an' cold
We never much thought we could get very old
We thought we could sit forever in fun
An' our chances really was a million to one."
Bob Dylan's Dream
Also, sidenote to Kim: you got YWAMers up there? YWAM rules.

mull-berry said...

Did the creamer always swirl the same way?

P.S. Did you ever hear from Wanda Jackson?

Paula said...

The cream never swirls the same way twice.

...and No. I didn't hear from Mrs. J!! That's OK. She still rocks!

Kim said...

We have YWAMers everywhere. I can't go anywhere without meeting them now....I think they're stalking me....I think I joined a cult and they haven't yet let me go....but I like them too much to care.

Pondering Pig said...

One thing I miss about living on the east coast of the USA: it's pretty much YWAM free. I miss those guys, their passion and love and goofiness. They taught me so much - hooray for YWAM!

Kain said...

Wimp is not a word that would in any way describe you Paula! I mean, look who you live with and I don't mean Meadow!

Karin said...

Can't even spell my own name!!!
No wonder I don't blog!

papa herman said...

Seems like a very pleasant memory to me.

Vic Nelson said...

Lobsters and lollipops! The high fifties?? That's incredible Paula. I thought I was good...thanks for puttin me in my place.

Karin said...

And I now realize I can't even comment on the right post! It was intended for the "...getting choked..."
I give up!

Paula said...

Hee hee!! Karin, you are awesome!! But please, don't give up.

Vic...I don't think I could flip a creamer 50+ times in a row now. I fill my day with other distractions, and I'm terribly out of practice.

canadiangirl said...

not even the lil sticks that the give us at church for coffee?! lol. and that must be a world record or something for creamer flips (creamer flips?)!!