Give me a cup. A proper cup. That's all. When I order a cup of coffee, place it in a cup made out of porcelain, something sturdy and firm and with a little thing on the side, you know, to hold onto. Because in a world of paper cups, I do need something to hold onto.
"Is that for here or to go?"
"For here," I said.
And still, not three minutes later, after I'd taken my seat, what do I get? A paper-cup. The guy sets down a paper-cup in front of me, along with a plastic top, and a cardboard sleeve (complete with advertisement) to keep me from burning my hand. Why did I think it would've been different?
"Am I going somewhere? Would you like me to leave?"
I thought to look around for a sign, some modern equivalent of WHITES ONLY, but with me on the wrong side of the prejudicial divide.
"Because I did say 'for here,' didn't I?"
I had come to one of two independent coffee shops on my strech of Ventura Boulevard, which rougly runs from Tujunga Boulevard to maybe a half-mile past Coldwater Canyon. Between these two points there are three or four Starbucks, two or three Coffee Bean and Tealeafs, and one Peet's Coffee, all corporate chains that care greatly about maximizing earnings potential. But this was Lulu's Bee Hive. A one of a kind place where customers sit at kitchen tables that have four chairs. It's very communal and inviting. Can I sit here? Please, go ahead. You don't fall into your own seat and turn your back to someone else. It's nice. But still, these damn paper cups. Why, Lulu? Why you too?
I ordered an espresso and a fruit tart the other day at the Starbuck's at USC. The espresso was placed in a 8 or 10 ounce paper cup.
The fruit tart was served in a flip-top plastic container. My utensil? A plastic fork.
When the lady gave me all this, I wanted to say, "Have you heard the phrase 'environmental footprint'? Because all I wanted was a little coffee, maybe something sweet to keep my blood sugar up during class, but now you've got me thinking about how there are hammer-head sharks swimming off the coast of Cornwall and these massive chunks of ice floating toward Jupiter, Florida. All you wanted was a Pepsi? I wanted a cup, just a proper cup."
At least I'm not alone.
But is there any place where there are more than a few of us? The Paper Cup Syndrome is sweeping across Europe, because so much of Europe believes in so much of America, namely, the economy above all else. You're either with us or against us and goddammit don't forget your cup, because we're on the move here, going through the drive-through next, and honey, grab my cel-phone, one of us should call the kids, I think I left Little Jenny with the toaster and little Steve in the tub, and damn this coffee's hot! Someone shoulda put a warning on my cup.
But there are parts of Europe not yet in Europe, Europeans who don't even consider themselves European -- Ukrainians, say -- and they, they most definitely do not drink out of a paper cup, they still believe in the dessert cart -- okay, I'm making that part up -- but they do still believe in the cup, complete with saucer. The proper cup. I know. I used to drink out of one just like this.
Did America ever drink out of a proper cup? If so, it must've been so long ago I don't remember. And how do little girls even have a tea party these days? Do they set down a tiny little paper cup before their doll? What size? Venti? Grande? Is this really the world you want to leave your children? Or is it all just nonsense?