His face was hidden by dark glasses. He was a skinny little guy whose shape was more like Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman than Walter White, aka Heisenberg the meth kingpin. His hat was the right shape but it was a brown tweed, not the flat black hat that transformed Walt into the baddest bad guy.
I was tired after staying up two nights till midnight watching the last 10 episodes of “Breaking Bad.” Never mind blue meth, the show itself was over-the-top addictive.
A pleasant morning walk to our Starbucks social gathering would straighten me out. Our usual coffee-talk pals were there. And the guy with the hat and dark glasses. He was about to roll a cigarette when we sat down and started chatting.
“Excuse me, are you two from Whitefish, Montana?” he asked. “Your voices sound familiar.”
Then he removed the dark glasses. “Holy shit, you look like Ryan Gosling,” I blurted. “It’s your eyes” (certainly wasn’t his stringy blond hair).
“You’re the third person who told me that this week,” he replied. The guy — I later discovered his name was Mike — was an upscale hobo. Riding trains was his specialty; he was only in Tucson to make amends with his 19-year-old son. Mike had finally found the kid, who was angry at being found by his non-father father.
Mike wanted to know what movies Ryan Gosling was in because he didn’t go very often. “Maybe you don’t have the money to go to movies,” I said, stupidly. I presumed he was poverty stricken like hobos of old during the Depression.
“Hey, don’t assume I have no money just because I don’t go to movies,” he said. “I could take all of you to the movies. You know how much I make [doing some kind of construction work at UCLA a few months every year]? $106 an hour. You’re offending me.”
I apologized, noting an unforeseen stereotype popping up. Mike must have accepted my apology. He walked over to his Toyota truck and returned with a copper bracelet and gave it to me as a gift. “I made this,” he said. “I found this piece of copper at a railroad in Emeryville, California. I poked holes in it with a nail.”
“Good luck to you,” I said, having zilch idea why I was the recipient of this bracelet.
This is what happens at Starbucks. Every day a new adventure, usually not as weird as Mike/Ryan/Walt and the mystery of the copper bracelet.
I’ve heard that wearing copper jewelry is good for your health. Why me, why did I warrant a gift? Am I that entertaining? Or was there another reason?