I finally had an evening free and no movies left to watch, so I decided to go to Café Artiste, a little independent coffee shop, somewhere in Houston. At this point, I can only describe its location as “somewhere in Houston,” because I was never able to locate the stupid little stop. At least Starbucks has a big green glowing sign. I drove around for 30 minutes, and finally pulled in under a big green sign to reluctantly join the throngs of trendy white people sipping complicated beverages around the world. As much as I hate to order a coffee that sounds more like a run on sentence than a drink, my favorite Starbucks drink is a grande white chocolate café mocha. I ordered one, sat down at one of the tables, pulled out my laptop, and pushed the power button. Nothing happened. I pushed it again, with the same result. A woman sitting near the window was watching me, so, as not to appear stupid, I made it apparent with subtle facial expressions that something was wrong with my laptop. I frowned. I furrowed my eyebrows and sighed. I sat there for a while, staring at it, sipping my drink, pushed the button again. I looked in my bag thoughtfully. Finally, with what I hoped was a look of consternation on my face, I closed the laptop, and took out a book, and read.
Because I don’t like reading when music is playing and people in banana republic jackets are ordering coffee around me, I read a chapter, finished my coffee, and went to a CD shop. There was nothing else to be done. Earlier that Saturday I had installed a CD player in my car, and buying new CDs seemed the logical thing to do. I don’t make much money, so I went to the used CD section of the store, thinking that one used CD would be alright. I bought three. Buying CDs is a kind of addiction for me. If I have any extra money, or I drive by a used CD shop, or the thought simply crosses my mind, I find myself searching through rows of used CDs. They call to me, these CDs. Their flashy covers and catchy names create in me a desire to take them home and see them amongst my own growing rack of music. Often, however, the bands with the coolest names and most artistic cover art are trying to cover up the fact that they suck. A lot. So I try to remember the name of that artist that I thought of yesterday whose CD I really should get because it would really add something interesting to my collection and I’ve heard their name around and I really like that song, uh, what’s-it-called. It never seems to fail that as I am pulling into the parking lot I have a long list of CDs that I need, and as I walk into the store they vacate my mind like Floridians in hurricane season. I started keeping a list. Each time I heard a CD review on NPR or happened to hear a song that intrigued me, I would add it to my list. The list got longer and longer, as I heard more and more songs that would really add a lot to my collection, and what about all those oldies, and I don’t have any classic rock. Sometimes I hear a song that seems like it might be something I should have in my collection, and feel relieved when it turns out to be not so good, because otherwise I would have to remember the name. In any case, the list got too long to fit in my wallet, so I discarded it. And so on Saturday night, I’m heavily caffeinated, shuffling through the aisles, flipping through unsorted row after unsorted row of musical mysteries. This CD store has no listening stations, so I can only guess what is contained in these plastic cases and search for the CD that I know I must have to be complete, if only I can remember the name.