Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don't want to Hava Java Anyway

PANAMA CITY BEACH — The less said about this place, the better. You don’t even want to mention the name except to warn people away.

You park in a lot with a handful of cars and trucks in it and walk past empty shop fronts until you find the open door of the coffee shop. You enter the narrow cafe that includes a small table and a scowling man behind the counter.

You are wearing your press badge and carrying a camera on a strap. You mention that you’re seldom on this end of the beach and glad to see the shop has stayed open when so many others have closed down.

“Everything’s for sale. You know somebody who wants to buy it? Let me know,” the man says before disappearing into a back room.

It’s a hot day. Rather than buy a coffee, you buy a soda. You consider the ice cream in the glass case. The man takes your money and walks outside, where he sits at a cafĂ© table and attacks the keys of a laptop.

You sip a Coke and look around at the photos on the wall: the man is pictured with the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, the Spice Girls, David Bowie and many other musicians and performers. His name is on a gold CD.

You step outside and stand by his table. You remark that Bowie is one of your favorite performers and that the photos are pretty cool.

“Yes, I used to be a VP with Virgin. I have a lot of things going on,” he says, not looking up from the laptop. He continues typing.

You offer your hand and try to introduce yourself again. He glances at your hand and keeps typing.

“I’m very busy,” he says. “Like I said, a lot is going on.”

You wipe your hand on your pants leg. You walk away.

You will not go back to the coffee shop. Ever. And you will tell anyone who will listen about the incident. There are better places to go and nicer people to talk to.