Coffee Spoon Revisited 

I first submitted the following story -- without this introductory section -- to the Memories writers group at the Humboldt County Senior Resource Center in Eureka, CA. I wrote it after a friend asked me how I write stories. I told her that I simply write about things which have happened to me. I told her as well that, when I write about myself, the account often acquires a good deal of what some might call fiction but which I call "the varnishing of fact." I also told her that in general I find unvarnished facts useless and, even worse, boring. When feelings of guilt get the best of me -- a rare event fortunately -- I call my ways "lying to express a higher truth." Later -- in order to demonstrate my statement to her -- it occurred to me to write about an incident in which my friend was a player. Coffee Spoon was the result.

The name of my friend by the way is Chizuko. 


It was the evening of the Fall Feast at the Humboldt Grange. As I walked into the dining room, I saw my pretty Japanese friend Chizuko sitting at one of the long tables. I quickly moved to the place next to her. Chizuko is very popular among my crowd and a place next to her at table is a prize. As I sat down, a waitress came by and poured coffee into the cup I had placed in front of me. I then looked for a spoon with which to stir in the creamer and sugar. Then I noticed that, tho' there was a knife and fork at my place, there was no spoon. So I used the fork to stir the coffee. Then I looked up and down the table and saw that every place which had been set on it lacked a spoon, with one exception. That exception was at Chizuko's place. I asked her where she had gotten her spoon. 

"I asked one of the waitresses for one, and she went to the back of the kitchen and brought it out," she replied. "As she handed it to me, she said not to tell anyone who had given it to me. I asked her why, and she only backed away from me with her finger on her lips."

I was of course curious about the situation: dining tables set with no spoons, and a waitress seemingly terrified that she would be discovered supplying spoons to the guests.

I asked one of the waitresses for a spoon. She went to the back of the kitchen and brought it out. As she handed it to me, she asked me not to tell anyone that it was she who had given it to me. At that moment I suspected what was going on.

I began to look around the dining room for him. Not there. I then went to the dance hall. I spotted him on the stage, hooking up a mic. It was Tiny Tim, the hugely black-bearded, three-hundred-and-fifty-pound owner of a coffee mill near Eureka.

Tiny hates for people to put anything in his coffee. He hates for them to put anything in any coffee.

I had met Tiny at the Coffee Break in Bayside some ten years previously. The owner, Carlos Casaerez, introduced us. The man seemed to me insane: he kept talking on and on about coffee and his hatred of spoons. Later I asked my friend Carlos, "How does he eat his cereal in the morning?"

"With a fork, of course," was my friend's answer. "He hates spoons because people use them to put stuff in his coffee."

After identifying Tiny on the stage, I went to the john and took a leak.

Coming from the john and heading back to the dining room, I noticed that Tiny was no longer in the dance hall.

Coming into the dining room, I heard Tiny shouting, "What the hell is going on! Who put the spoons on the tables? There are five of the f*ing things out here. Out with it? Who put them here?!!"

I saw that he had already gotten hold of Chizuko's spoon, as well as the one at my place. I sat down in the nearest chair to enjoy Tiny's show.

After getting the fifth spoon, he began going back through the tables and double-checking them, his eyes glowing with obsessive hatred for spoons. Having found none, he marched back into the kitchen shouting, "OK, who put those spoons on the tables?" To my surprise, none of the men in the dining room followed him into the kitchen to ensure that he did not frighten the women there. I therefore went into the kitchen myself. By now Tiny was pulling out every drawer in the place and spilling the contents onto the floor as he screamed, “Alright, where are the f*g spoons?!” 

I then shouted, "Carlos Casaerez!"

Immediately he wheeled around to find who had shouted. Spotting me, he yelled, "You! I remember you. You worked for that bastard Casaerez putting crap in my coffee!"

"Not true," I answered. "I merely ordered lattes and drank the stuff."

"Worse, far worse," he cried. "You're an aider and abettor. Every one of you should be boiled to death in cream and sugar!"

"Listen,” I quietly answered him, “either you shut up and leave this room, or I will call Semper Virens. You know what will happen next." I had in fact heard after meeting Tiny that indeed he had learned from several personal experiences what would happen next.

He stood glaring at me for several minutes, then left the room. A couple of minutes later, I heard him slamming the front door of the building.

When I got back to my table and sat down by my friend, she said quietly, "You know, Thomas, I think some of your friends are very, very strange."

“You’re right about that,” I replied as I motioned to a waitress for two spoons.