by Nick Logsdon
I, Thermos Dad, awoke that Saturday of middle-late November as I always had: ready for my coffee in my Thermos 24-ounce Stainless King Vacuum Insulated Mug…
I’m still greasy from the night’s sleep, pissed at the Latins mowing Merle’s lawn next-door so early on a damn Saturday, and dreading my 11-year-old daughter’s recreational soccer game.
I shake my jowls, and peel my t-shirt from under my arms and slip on my Pendleton Wool slippers. Still in my briefs, I plod to the front door and step into the brisk Autumn air. My knees quake as the nippy breeze lifts my useless robe above them.
The Latins seem to be mowing nothing but dirt. To boot, there’s Morning Opossum sniffing my gazette. I hobble as quickly as my laparoscopic incisions will grant me back inside and grab my son’s Daisy air rifle from behind the front door and take aim. I shoot to kill, but miss.
Dammit, Thermos Dad. What’s happening to you?
The damn vermin scuttles across the street only to meet his maker, Old Man Ram 1500. Talk about Goodyear riddance.
Up the street, I see Ceramic Mug Father, his ceramic mug of Joe in hand. I envy Ceramic Mug Father, already feeling the nourishing rush of his Folger’s. He likely takes it black and I’m forced to respect for him that. Suddenly, uneasiness drenches me; what with the Latins and the looming soccer game. I forgot to brew my coffee. I realize what I need. I dodder as fast as my arthroscopy will allow back indoors and make my way to the kitchen.
My Cabinets. Where are the fucking cabinets?! My mind shrieks, though my sluggish posture, and irrepressible flatulence would suggest otherwise.
Above the dishwasher, where they always are, Thermos Dad. You’ve done this before, you do this every morning.
Before I reach to open them, I take a breath. All will be right in the world. Unfairly traded, pre-ground beans will soon bring me back to a state of equilibrium. I smile and the rank stench of my un-brushed teeth wafts through my tobacco stained mustache and crawls through my one working nostril. I smile because that doesn’t matter now.
My hand grips the fake crystalline handle of our standard wooded cabinets. Minor dust from termite damage from the year before trickles onto my knuckles as I yank the door open. I trace my eyes from the plastic cups, to the dinner glasses, and finally to my—What in Sam Hill?
Where’s my Thermos?
I rip open the dishwasher. There. In its former matte-blue glory, dirtied, unwashed. Karen didn’t do my dishes; she always does the dishes. Why weren’t they done?! “Karen!” I scream, throwing the dishwasher shut and collapsing to my knees.
There goes my vision. I grope underneath the sink like a cat pawing at a laser. I grab what I think is dishwashing soap, but I’ve never done the dishes so I can’t be sure. Karen usually takes care of those, or she has some Latins come by once a month. Maybe they’re coming tomorrow? I don’t care. She knows I drink coffee every morning, and she knows I need it, especially today because we have Lucille’s fucking goddamn rec soccer game today!
I end up putting laundry detergent in the dishwasher. Why does Karen keep that under the sink? I don’t know! Ask the Latins! Fuck it. I don’t even turn it on. I held the button for three seconds and nothing happened.
Don’t lose your edge, Thermos Dad. Your Thermos is FUBAR-- Oh, what’s FUBAR? Go watch Saving Private Ryan for once, Corporal Umpum-- You’ll need a new one. There’s no way you’re drinking from that—that thing. Find your keys; find the damn Silverado keys, Thermos Dad.
After a few frantic moments, I find myself in the truck’s cab and my vision stable. Starbucks will have to do. An early morning re-airing of Michael Savage barely calms my nerve as I drive. I spot my exit, and make my approach. Just to the right of the off-ramp, an orange halo takes shape, cresting above the crown of Starbucks through a small thicket of trees. I can smell the coffee from my fortunate up-front parking space. I don’t even have to use Karen’s handicap placard.
The Starbucks smelled different. I can’t put a finger on it, but I felt like my Gammy had wrapped her arms around me. My jitter’s dissipated, and most-peculiarly, I wasn’t drawn to the re-fillable container stand. I saw the Thermos’, 12oz, 16oz, and even the 24oz King. but catching my eye was an irresistible scarlet paper cup next to the register. Nervous, my voice trembled as I asked the server, “What are those?”
“Those are our annual holiday-themed cups, sir,” the boy behind the counter replied.
Stranger still, I wasn’t inclined to question his sexuality. Those cups seemed to have a cheerful and pervasive non-denominational equality about them. I was drawn to them and what they apparently represented. The boy went on to say that they’ve released holiday themed cups every year for almost twenty years.
How could you have not known, Thermos Dad?
“What about that smell?”
“Well, that’s our likely our Pumpkin Chai, sir. Another holiday favorite.”
“Shut it, queen-” I stop my self and, out of character, apologize for the slur. “Can I have one of those? And in one of the holiday cups. Will that be all right? If not, I’ll just buy a thermos.”
“We only serve our drinks in those cups, Sir,” he assures me, without a smile. Perhaps my curious grin stole his away. I order a pumpkin chai.
My first pumpkin chai. I feel as though I’m the only one on the sidelines watching the Lucas Oil Pro Motorcross Championships, or in Heaven.
I pay and leave a hefty tip for the boy. A certain giddiness coursed my veins on the drive home.
As I pulled up to my eight-car garage, I didn’t feel an urge to mutter to myself about the laziness of Merle’s Latins. I didn’t feel an urge to curse at Ceramic Mug Father when his daughter blatantly threw a cleats-up slide at Lucille’s shin during their soccer game. Hell, that night, I even cleared my own plate and Karen’s…
But, perhaps most different, I never once thought of my Thermos again what with the perpetuity of Starbuck’s Holiday cups. Come to think of it, I don’t even know where that old thing is. Maybe Karen put in the drawer beneath the oven with the Tupper Ware. Who knows? That doesn’t matter now.
Nick is a writer based in Los Angeles and a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University. He likes to brag that his apartment has a hot tub.