I live and breathe Bob Dylan for the day.
At the coffeehouse, I play the mix I made based on the playlist from his May 6th performance in BigCity, NC that Mia and I went to. Six, count them six, customers in a row comment on the music playing when they walk in the door and before I know it, the coffeehouse is like a gathering space for the Bob Dylan Fan Club.
Robin, one of my favorite customers and also a neighbor, comes in for his usual (chai tea latte). He has a flop of dark, sandy hair that falls across his forehead. His smile is always bright and genuine and we always, always, talk about music while I make his drink.
“So I’ve got a new drink for you today, Robin.”
“Eh?” The smile.
“A chocolate chai tea latte. See, it sweetens the unsweetened black tea chai but without using corn syrup or raw sugar,” I explain. He already knows about our house favorite “chocolate goo” blend made of organic fair trade cocoa.
He nods to indicate his curiosity and approval and I get to work on the drink. Meantime, I feel a duty to pick up our last conversation where it left off:
“Robin, since I’ve seen you last I’ve been to the city and back again,” I say, insinuating our previous conversation. Dylan moans from the CD player in the background, a bootleg version of Blind Willie McTell. “And I purchased the new Rolling Stone issue with Dylan on the cover.”
“Good, good. But do you have the new album yet?”
“Not yet. It’ll come in the mail today. I’m just hours away from listening to it.”
“I have it in my car right now. I could get it for you and you can listen to it for the next few hours.”
The fan club, which has been discussing Hispanic hip-hop covers of Dylan songs in the meantime, pauses in their chatter after Robin has made his offer.
I pause too. A chance to listen to Dylan’s first album in five years, right here, right now?
“Naw,” I say slowly, “No. I can’t. I think I have to be alone when I listen to it.”
And with that the chatter resumes. Robin sips from his new drink and nods, both to acknowledge my need to hold off on the Dylan album and the excellence of his beverage. He and Rodney slip out the door caught up in more fan club talk, this time about Dylan-based documentaries. My next customer greets me and introduces himself as if we’re an AA meeting. “Hi, my name is Dan, and I’ve been a Dylan fan for sixteen years and counting.”