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Oct 03rd
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Just Add Water: Episode I

This is the first weekly installment of Just Add Water, which chronicles the weekly happenings of Apollo and friends at the Santa Cruz coffeehouse Wholly Beans!

I was pondering my 29 years of existence on the planet as I leaned against the wall of the office building on Soquel Avenue, fresh off my first therapy appointment—ever! Five minutes ago, my therapist suggested I was suffering from a kind of Peter Pan Syndrome. I was tempted to storm out of his office, but I thought that would make me look, well, childish. Jusdt then, my pal Sally gleefully pulled up and stopped at the nearby curb. She was in her plum-colored convertible BMW.

They both looked chic and fabulous, something that suddenly made me feel even  more depressed.

Sally tilted her head and shot me a look over her over-sized yet totally styling Calvin Kleins. “Congratulations Apollo—you’re no longer a therapy virgin! Tell me all about it. Did you give good couch?”

“Very funny,” I moaned, slamming the car door shut behind me. “I don’t know why I ever let you talk me into seeing a Jungian therapist.”

Her foot became all too happy on the gas pedal and soon we were zipping down the street toward Downtown Santa Cruz.

“There’s a very good reason why you should consider therapy, darling?”

“Do tell.”

“For starters, you’re depressed.”

Well, she had me there.

“But," Sally went on, "in your own defense … who wouldn’t be? I mean, really—after the humiliating way you got axed from your newspaper job in the city; and now, with everything that’s happened to your Aunt Xena …”

I held up a hand. “Please. Don’t dig the knife deeper.”

She turned onto Center Street, toying with a few curly ringlets in her thick, long haird. “Aunt Xena …” she trailed off.

Yes. Aunt Xena. I hate to blame the woman for my current predicament, but when your closest living relative, an eccentric 82-year-old defunct Polish restaurant maven from Chicago, decides to suddenly slip into a coma, you can’t just let her pee in the bedpan all alone.

Or can you?

It didn’t matter, really. Not now, anyway. Xena was sleeping soundly at Domican Hospital. Meanwhile, I had to tend to the disaster she left behind. Before my dear, eclectic aunt found super subconscious bliss, she had just opened a hip, new coffeehouse dubbed Wholly Beans! in Downtown Santa Cruz. Left without a captain to steer the ship, I reluctantly stepped in as skipper. The fact that I knew nothing about managing a coffeehouse or hiring the right employees was just another pressing issue to bring back to the shrink. If I even go back.

Sally parked in the three-hour lot behind Wholly Beans! about the same time a meter maid cruised by on one of those motorized buggies. The woman driving the vehicle took out a long stick with a piece of chalk attached to the end and quickly marked one of Sally’s back tires. This didn’t sit well with my friend. She huffed, stormed out of the coup, and, removing a moist towelette from her Gucci purse, proceeded to wipe off the yellow mark on her precious Michellin.

“The nerve!” Sally spat, vigorously wiping away. “Who gave those people permission to touch my property?”

I couldn’t be bothered by another one of Sally’s dramas. I had to get back to Wholly Beans! But neither of us made it 10 feet before we heard the meter maid’s buggy screech to a halt ahead of us. Amid of flurry of orange flashing lights, Sally was soon deep into a heated argument with the woman toting the stick of chalk who, seemingly intent on bringing Sally down for wiping off the chalk mark, proceeded to give my gal pal a ticket.

Sally immediately swiped it from her hand and tore it up right on the spot, faster than she could say, “double, nonfat, decaff, mocha chai light with extra whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles."

The meter maid climbed back into her buggy and stormed off.

“I’m going to sue,” Sally later told the crowd at the L-shaped coffeebar in Wholly Beans! “Those meter maids are defacing my personal possessions—and with a horrible shade of canary yellow! It’s like somebody taking spray-paint to my Vickie S push-up bra. Talk about boundary issues!”

Sally … she’s no stranger to melodrama. It wasn’t that long ago that her much younger Silicon Valley tech geek of a hubby bit the dust in a freakish surf accident. The town immortalized the man. But deep down, I never thought Sally recovered. Ever since, she’s taken to traveling to far away lands in between consulting gigs. Meanwhile, she still keeps her cozy mansion-like digs in the Aptos Hills. That was actually how we first met, nearly four years ago—I had been doing an interior design story for a luxury home magazine; a side gig from my regular TV column writing duties at the San Francisco Examiner.

I love Sally. But today, I could use a break. I’m still processing the fact that my therapist, Dr. Waverly, called me a Puer Aternus—a modern-day Peter Pan and all that.

I pulled back my shoulder-length blonde hair and quickly tied it into a knot. Just then, one of my employees, Peter, a young twentysomething with a buzz cut and protruding bicerps, slid Sally’s mocha chair across the bar and chatted the woman up, further fueling what was becoming a major project du jour: suing the meter maids.

“Sally,” I chimed in, wiping the countertop nearby. “This isn’t like Chicago. It’s Santa Cruz. You cannot sue a meter maid for chalking your tires!”

She shot me a look. “Watch me.” She leaned over the counter. “You may be new to this little hamlet, Apollo—and God knows, until you get some real therapy under your belt, you’ll be insufferable—but one thing you will learn, darling, is that we Santa Cruzans—both young and old—can be the most persistent souls on the planet.”

I was already walking away. “Whatever. I just want to know why I keep smelling patchouli everywhere I go.”

“Oh yeah …?” Sally shouted after me. “Well ... welcome to Santa Cruz, buddy!

Grab refills of Just Add Water next week.

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