My cousin Ivan

Morning coffee seemed like a good idea. I never have a regular sleeping schedule, I had 18 holes ahead of me (for the first time in two years), and it was 7 in the morning.

My father says hi to man behind the register. He asks about me.

“I live in the Bay Area,” I respond.

“Oh? You go to school there?” (I get that a lot.)

“No, I work there.”

My father then says to me, “This is Ivan. He calls me ‘Uncle’ so that makes him your cousin. That’s how it works, isn’t it?”

Ivan laughs.

[Habits and more breakfast memories after the jump.]

(I remember my father told me the Ivan story two years ago. My father reminds him of his uncle so he calls my dad “uncle.” When he comes in and sees him, dad says, “How’s my nephew doing?”)


My father is a person who once he finds something he likes, he orders it… a lot. So wherever he goes to eat, his order is ready. He mentioned that sometimes he comes in to this place and it’s crowded. He just gives a girl behind the counter a little nod, and comes up to pay when he’s ready. He never waits in line. They know he wants a cinnamon sugar bagel, toasted and a coffee refill on the Bottomless Mug that they sell.

“Once, it was especially busy. And the two girls saw me come in and I ended up with two bagels. I can’t eat much anymore so I gave the extra to another guy, a regular.”

We ate at Sushi Ota later that day, they brought out an extra plate of wasabi and ginger without asking. The next day, the waitress asks, “Weren’t you here yesterday?”

“Yes. I’d come here every day but I don’t often finish my round of golf before you close for lunch.”

My father says, “Your mom. She always had to try something new. Sometimes she’d hit the jackpot, but usually it was bad.”

I’m more like mom.

Early coffee memories

Growing up, I remember my parents always had a lot of coffee. I should say “cup of Joe” because coffee back then was the way I used coffee that morning: a pure caffeine fix in order to get awake. Not these fancy things I read about and sometimes drink socially—where the order takes longer to say than to drink. Good coffee is wasted on my palate.

Later my mom switched to “Sanka” but they never switched their habit of drowning the coffee in lots of sugar and cream. Walk into a breakfast place with mom and dad and by the time we’d sit down there’d be a mound of cream there and dad’s meal would be cooking.

Outside Heinz Hall, my father would always walk across the street to have a coffee at the Seven Eleven during intermission. Seven Eleven stocked Irish Cream-flavored cream. When listening to the recount of how Bruegger’s switched from Irish Cream to French Vanilla, I can hear the regret in his voice.

Yep, my parents: they love coffee with their cream.

Another breakfast story

There is a great Mexican breakfast place in Pacific Beach peer that my father used to go to. The portions are so large that they’d always bring my dad an extra plate so mom could split off some of his breakfast.

After she died, they kept doing that months later.

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