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Walkin’ Tall

The grass is always greener on the other side, unless Chuck Norris has been there. In that case the grass is most likely soaked in blood and tears. ( David Susskind, The New York Times)

Chuck Norris invented water. (Isa 14:92 KJV)

Chuck Norris has never blinked in his life. Ever.

The temperature in Outer Southeast Portland: a scorching 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

I swing my rusted, Baby Blue 1995 Blazer into the lot, park, dismount. I notice mere mortals here and there scurrying about from shade to shade til they can disappear into air-conditioned safety.

I stop. The portal before me, beckoning, opens to the Amazing Wonderland of Starbucks Icy Beverages. Inside, a cool, refreshing, 67. But today, this day of all days, I’m in no hurry. I’m Walkin’ Tall. I’m Walkin’ Slow. I’m Walkin’ Baddasss.

As I enter, Chuck Norris, who has been sitting in a dark corner to escape the heat (sissy), quietly, unobtrusively, gets up from his chair and quickly exits by another door, shoulders hunched, attempting to hide from me. Intuitively, he knows that, today, he is no match for me and what’s tucked in the back pocket of my cutoffs, snugged against the perfect curve of my right butt cheek. He knows that his roundhouse kick is impotent against me today. I let him slink off in his humiliation, pretending not to recognize him, that simpering, drooling, mincing, little twit. (Yeah, you heard me. Back off!).

The barista, sensing just who I really am, grovels, imploring beseechingly, “Can I help you?”

Slowly, I reach down and back. The room is silent now, all eyes fixed on my lean, yet sumptuous, bun. Out comes the wallet, and from said wallet I carefully extract a blood (Red™) card. I flick it onto the counter. By now, you’ve probably guessed it: a Starbucks gift card worth five bucks. Yeah, you heard it right,  five bucks. I can’t be denied. I can buy any drink in the place. Nobody can stop me. Grande. Venti. It’s all within my grasp… except a Soy Strawberries ‘N Cream Frappuccino™ ($5.20, but no real man would buy a Soy Strawberries ‘N Cream Frappuccino™ anyways). “I’ll take an iced coffee, medium-sized, and no room for cream.”


Sneeringly, “No thanks, man.”

Over his shoulder, “Iced Grande, no simple, no room, coffee.” Of course, I know the correct nomenclature and order of calling a drink (based on my two years working for Starbucks) but when you’re packin’ you calls ‘em the way you feels ’em.

“Need a receipt?”

No thanks, man, just a balance.”


In an instant I’m on the floor, face down, gasping and groveling, having taken five roundhouse kicks of generosity to the solar plexus. You see, the card was given to me by a friend in Seattle known for her generosity but who doesn’t make any more money than I do, which is not a lot. I was thinking $5 maybe, $10 outside tops. At any rate enough for a drink. But $50?

At that very moment Chuck Norris walks back in the door, glances down at me squirming on the tile and sits at his appointed table in the shadows. Silent. He knows.

Chastened, I get slowly to my feet, using my hands to climb up the side of the counter, steady myself and walk out the door a changed man, more humble now…grateful.

“Hey, Mister. Could you help me with enough for a cup of coffee?”

I survey him. This guy is, maybe, 10 years younger than I, skinny, dirty and disheveled with a good five-day growth of beard. Looks a bit parched.  “Sorry. I’d love to help out, but I just don’t have enough.”

I amble over to my rusted, Baby Blue 1995 Blazer. Mount up. Ride away…slow.


  1. Deborah Gohrke wrote:

    Oh my goodness! I’m crying now. (At one point in your story I thought you were going to toss that 5 buck card away…gasp!)

    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    I think you know that woman with the roundhouse kicks of generosity. Stopped my heart. xoxo

    Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

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