I tried so hard today to go to a cafe that isn’t a gargantuan, nation-wide chain, but all the small places are evidently closed on Sundays, because who wants to go out for a leisurely cup of coffee on their one and only day off for the week (no such thing as a Saturday for most people here)?

Not knowing each place’s operating hours (or even locations) ahead of time, this had me wheelin’ around on my bike back and forth like a paperboy with extremely premature Alzheimer’s. Up the road, down the road and back again. I passed one couple four times. By the end of it I must’ve had them thinking I was an apparition (which, by the way, most Japanese people I’ve met here are alarmingly quick to assume. Hey, what’s that stain on the floor? Ghost did it, spilled some cranberry juice, the spooky-ass butterfingers. Hey, whose footsteps do I hear? Ghost’s, that’s the only explanation. But you said Japanese ghosts don’t have feet, you explicitly told me that a breath ago. Yeah but they know how to simulate that sound. You gotta sorta thwock your tongue against the roof of your mouth, like ::THWOCK:: No no no, you’re just clucking, that’s different. Ghosts don’t do that shit).

I passed another spot by a busy road twice within about five minutes. The second time I passed, the whole area was deep in the chaotic aftermath of an accident. A large, expensive-looking thing had its front completely smashed in, another car had some other area smashed in (I didn’t get a good look), and a confused woman stood with a cop in the middle of the road, making a dimwitted face that was pretty much immediately telling of her driving aptitude. I mean call it an unfair generalization, but that was definitely the face of a terrible driver and an anti-Semite.

Five minutes at most and all this. If I had hit a couple more red crosswalk signals on the way I might’ve witnessed the accident first-hand. I might’ve even been sandwiched between cars as I tried to bike across the street only to have our new friend the rocket scientist careen into me at full force in her armored soccer mom dreadnought. They don’t even have soccer moms here, just their cars.

It got me thinking about how much can happen in the five minute space where you’re blinking. It doesn’t have to be five minutes though, and you don’t have to be blinking. You could go out of town on business for the weekend and in the meantime your wife meets a hunky man with one of those chins that’s been severely dented by an unhappy lumberjack, proceeds to find some point of commonality with him, proceeds to be seduced, have hot, cheaty sex with him, and become pregnant with his baby, also with lumberjack-sculpted chin. You return home just forty-eight hours later and your world has been virtually nuked.

What did I do? I left town two years and three months ago, and then I went back in December and my country had no money and we had a black president (not a bad thing, sorry). Next time I go back there’ll be an epidemic and no such thing as Chrysler. In a couple years I’ll go back and DC will be infested with radroaches and road warriors and shit.

When have you blinked only to open your eyes to vast change?

Ultimately I ended up settling for Mister Donut, which is not only a chain, it’s just about the biggest coffee-selling chain in the entire country. I guess my resolve to help out the little guy collapsed under the weight of my sudden reminder: time is of the essence. Do what you want to do now, because next time you blink they might drop the bomb.

Also, for god’s sakes, how could a cafe not be open on Sundays? It’s not like any of these quaint little coffee shops offer takeout for the workperson on the go. Each one I visit is lazier and cool jazzier in atmosphere than the last. They might as well give them all names that are variations on “Sunday Cafe” because that’s exactly the day you’d think they’re perfect to go to on when you see them. ::Sigh, man:: What a backwards-ass place this is.

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