In past dispatches, I’ve often written lovingly about coffee shops, where I set up my microtop (iPhone, Bluetooth keyboard, and phone stand), and let it rip.
There was Coffeed in my hometown of Port Washington, gone and sadly missed. There is The Atomic Cafe, which I visit every chance I can when I’m up in Beverly Massachusetts visiting Megan. And now, here in Emmaus Pennsylvania, there is Vargtimmen King Koffee, here on Chestnut street.
I love this place. I could live here.
Most places where I write are, first and foremost, coffee shops or coffee houses. In other words, they are in existence for the purpose of providing a place where people can drink coffee, eat something, and then sit and talk, write, or whatever else.
Yet then there are the places in which the whole notion of serving coffee seems to be something of an afterthought. These places often look like someone’a basement, the sort of basement where you hung out with your friends after high school. This was the sort of place where you first listened to some band you’d never heard of before, and, years later, would remember certain details of this basement as a memory of that time became more vivid.
The Vargtimmen King Koffee shop is such a place. The only thing that I can compare it to is The Iguana Cafe, a (probably long gone) place in Los Angeles I frequented when I had just graduated college, and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Somehow, back then, a proper coffee house didn’t seem right; instead, I wanted a place with assorted books, musical instruments, and games lying around, the sort of place where I could talk to an equally lost soul and maybe play a game of chess.
Needless to say, there were some folks who came into the Iguana who probably could have benefitted from medication. I loved it all the more for that. And I’m sure, as I sit here Vargtimmen King Koffee, that one or two of the people I’ve seen go in and out may be in need of some as well.
I don’t know the local geography well, but when someone says “they’re puttin’ Tommy in Cedar Crest again,” I take that to mean that Tommy will have a difficult time getting out. The woman who mentioned Tommy said something about a parole officer, and that the parole officer though this was a good idea. I wish Tommy well.
This same person just asked another person who came in how is work release was going. He replied that, unfortunately, his car was repossessed while he was where ever he was. I hope his fortunes change for the better.
What I’m saying is, there are coffee shops, and then there are hangouts where they just happen to serve coffee. I am in one at the present, and I never forget these places when I go here. There is inevitably something that someone says that I never forget, and there is almost always something on wall that stays in my mind.
I think in the case of Vargtammen King Koffee, what will stay in my mind, besides the conversations concerning Cedar Crest and work release, are the drawings of ventriloquist dummies. One of them would seem to be a dead on copy of Corky, the deranged dummy from the 1978 film “Magic.” I shall think of this again, no doubt when I am running a high fever.
This is one of those places where people who come here tend to think of it as “their” place. They know the first names of other people, and discuss things like “the full moon in Leo (which someone is discussing right at this moment).” Everyone belongs somewhere, and here, some people who’ve been searching for a place to belong finally feel that way.
Which is a good thing. Everyone needs someplace to belong, particularly the misfit high school kids who my friend Tom (not to be confused with Tommy, who they are putting back in Cedar Crest) tells me drift into this place on weekday afternoons. No doubt they’re having a tough time of it, and they need a place to talk about bands, movies, and books that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Tom has now told me that Cedar Crest is a local hospital. That clears things up as I contemplate Tommy’s fate.
No doubt, at some point in the future, Vargtimmen King Koffee will vanish, as places like this often do. The world will then die a little, but somewhere, another one of these places will open, and once again, those who don’t quite fit in anywhere else will have a place where they fit in just fine.
And when I stumble upon one, I shall always go in, order a cup of coffee, set up my microtop, and write. There’a good writing mojo in these places; something good always comes out of sitting in places like this, when I just look around, listen, and let the words fall where they may.