Welcome to where the seeds of dreams are planted--where one can sip from the charmed chalice of life & meet interesting folk through (hopefully) intelligent conversation.

One never knows nor can expect who will sail into the fray--what we do know is that no soul here is perfect no matter how we try. So let us celebrate & raise our mugs to the idiosyncratic nature of life--to the Kramer's & Norm's of the world, the Roseanne's & Allan Poe's. Some old, some lost, some tortured, some blessed, all souls sharing a drink at the same time in the same place. The ensuing tales are authentic with names trending towards monikers. The flag waving on our doorstep means we're open, so come perk your curiosity in Le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.

Bonjour! Mesherfin! Hasta la vista! Your barista.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Teasing the Anti-Christ

“As your lawyer, I advise you to chug a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster!”
Last month saw the return of the Fells Fun Festival to the neighborhood. The event not only aligned with Orioles Magic, but also with surprise guests at le Harbor Bungalow Café. The barista turned to face the counter as he steamed some milk.

“P3PO!! Welcome back, broseph!!”


“Not really. Would’ve been more surprised if you didn’t hitch a ride with mom and dad and sacrificed this booze-fest.”

Brother-of-barista was unemployed and searching for work. He recently earned his law degree, but the results of his BAR exam were still being processed leaving him in a state of limbo.  Mother- and father-of barista followed the barista’s brother in the door.  After exchanging pleasantries they sat at the bar.

“How was the drive down?”

“The drive was fine,” mother-of-barista said. “Parking was the tricky part.” Parents-of-the-barista live 80 minutes via automobile north of the Big Crabcake, in the same house—the Old Creek Home—where the barista came of age.

“Welcome to the city. You see why I choose not to drive.”

“Quit the small talk and bring a cherry and cheese danish this way,” father-of-barista said.

“I thought you were on a diet.”

“I’ll start it again in January.”

“Whatever you say. Here meet Shelly, le café’s new owner.”

As the barista dug around in the pastry case, Shelly and parents-of-the-barista talked about how the barista is great a person.  On this day in particular he was great, as he easily could have succumbed to his hangover from the previous night’s celebration.  The hometown baseball club won their first playoff game in 15 years. The barista believed the victory was due in part to he and his friends’ enthusiasm and insistence of doing a shot for every play that went the Orioles way. Yuengling, Jack and Jose kept the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers at bay.

But if the flattery inflated the barista’s ego, it was only temporary.

“We have some mail for you.” Mother-of-barista passed an envelope across the bar.

“Uh, oh.” The barista immediately identified the source of the letter. “I’ve been waiting months for this response. I self-addressed the return envelope to you in case I didn’t renew my lease over the summer.”

“What is it?” Shelly asked.

“I submitted a story to Sun Magazine for publication. This is the moment of truth.” The barista imagined opening this letter in the privacy of his own apartment, but everyone was anxious to hear the news, so the barista ripped open the envelope and began to paraphrase the letter aloud.

“Thanks…we’re sorry to say that your story is not right for The Sun…this isn’t a reflection on your writing…process is highly subjective…we wish you the best…yada, yada…Clark, I think it’s time for that Gargle Blaster.”

As the barista decides whether to submit his story elsewhere, he would like to tease the opening excerpt for those café patrons who did not read an earlier version last December. Without further adieu, Le Harbor Bungalow Café is proud to present

Laughing About the Anti-Christ
…and other gap-bridging techniques of a self-appointed ambassador between cultures

“Teacher, you know the AntiChrist?”
            An awkward silence came over the sidewalk café.
            “No, Ali.  I don’t know the AntiChrist.  Why?  Would you like to meet him tonight?”  I laughed, trying to lighten the mood.  My students giggled, too.  Was Ali implicating me—calling me out as an antichrist?
There I sat in Rabat—Morocco’s capital city—between sips of espresso discussing the Antichrist with a group of about ten curious Moroccan English language students.  Understanding between us was not a given, it was a challenge.  The sunny, cloudless spring day was a Monday, so we met outside on the patio of a local café.  Across the round, white, wrought iron table sat Ali.  Likely he was asking whether I was familiar with the story about the second coming of Jesus, who is supposed to lead an end-of-times battle against the evil Antichrist as preached by the prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam, and as mentioned in the final book of the Christian Bible, Revelation.  But I also knew Ali was bright and somewhat mischievous.  Had I somehow insulted him?
A native of Rabat, the 24-year old was more interested in slang and clever dialogue than proper grammar.  Shorty’s got bahdenkedank!” he was keen to exclaim.  Ali gleaned much of his English from trendy American movies and music as well as through written correspondence on the online social networking pages of his American acquaintances.   This learning technique was common among my Moroccan students.  Loose-lipped and short, Ali mixed a manner that was part attempting to keep up with his peers and part trying to take the lead in conversation.  Here Ali had the lead, on a topic he was well versed.
“Yes, I am aware of the Biblical story of how the Antichrist fools good people into worshiping him.   But I understand the story as a metaphor,” I tell my class, hoping to segue into a comparison technique lesson. “Do you think a large bank could be the Antichrist, by deceiving good people into worshiping its money?” 
Months earlier I would have avoided such verbal sparring sessions faster than you could say salamu alaykum.  But two years later, in my Baltimore apartment, burning incense from Jemaa el Fna, I wonder if I was being paternalistic—by challenging their religious beliefs and attempting to expand their minds.  My main reason in traveling to Morocco had been just that:  to expand my mind.

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