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maunderings of a meandering mind

22 May

I am

  • a cancer survivor who knows there are worse things
  • a straight man who thinks gay marriage is a civil rights issue
  • an American who sometimes suspects he's a misplaced European
  • a single guy who longs for marriage and family
  • known to my co-workers for asking the most pointed questions at meetings — and for getting the most laughs.
  • a pragmatist and a dreamer

I believe in that very old-fashioned idea, honor, as the touchstone and guidestar to life. I believe in fair play and second chances. I believe in community and friendship, built on trust and respect. I believe that the meaning of life lies in doing what we can to make others' lives better.

There used to be a coffeehouse in Seattle called The Last Exit. It was Seattle's oldest coffeehouse, founded 1967, and it is the original of all the "Seattle style" coffeehouses you find everywhere now. Thing is, they're all modeled on it, but at three removes: they all imitate Starbucks, but Starbucks was a knockoff of the Allegro, and the Allegro was a knockoff of the Exit. And they all lack the key thing that made The Last Exit work as a place for people to hang out and meet new people: big tables.

Most people (most Americans, anyway) aren't willing to walk up to a stranger and ask to share their table. But the Exit had a half-dozen large round tables — tables that would seat eight people with plenty of elbow room, and a dozen if they were friendly. Even someone as shy and gawky as I was at eighteen could feel comfortable taking a chair at one of these tables that already had two or three people at it. The Exit didn't sell coffee by the cup, and a pot was more than most people could even imagine drinking alone — so split a pot of coffee? became the canonical ice-breaker. And once you're sharing a pot of coffee with someone, it would be rude not to talk to them. So strangers became friends, housemates, lovers.

I'm really not much less shy now than I was at eighteen, but now I live 3000 miles from Seattle, and I've never found another place like the Exit. But LiveJournal, within the limits imposed by its virtuality, gives me some of it.

My Amazon wishlist, for any who might care.