The incident that tore apart my relationship with my two best friends began innocently enough: we were discussing where to meet for coffee.
My one friend, 25-year-old Carrie, who is so cool, says Tony Bennett is goofy, and she wanted to go to Midnite Expresso, the grunge brew house on Second Street in Long Beach.
My other friend, 35-year-old, pony-tailed Diane, who feels really racy when she tears down Bellflower Boulevard in her purple Plymouth Voyager, wanted to go to Starbucks Coffee.
Carrie said she did not want to go to the upscale coffee shop and be around a bunch of 40-year-olds who waste their disposable income on Arabian Mocha Sanani.
She said Starbucks customers say they shop at Nordstrum, but in reality, they buy their cotton Dockers at Mervyns. She criticized the CD collection they store in their Eddie Bauer Jeep Cherokees as phony.
"Sure, you might find Soundgarden in their leather CD case, but that's for show," she said. "Dig down deep enough and you'd find their heart of rock and roll still beats for Huey."
Carrie claimed to have heard a conversation between two no-sock, Topsider fellows sipping cafe lattes at the deluxe beanery and thought they were discussing the less fortunate.
She heard words such as Mulligan, handicap and carts and thought they were actually feeling sorry for some poor, disabled Irish guy living in a Lucky grocery cart.
The words birdie and fairway woke Carrie up promptly. When I told her Diane would be joining us, she asked, "Will Ralph, Liz, Calvin and Donna be there too?"
Carrie was referring to the only people allowed in Diane's motorized closets. Carrie was adamant Ñ she did not want to waste her afternoon getting her caffeine fix with a bunch of "coifed, stuck-up, status-obsessed, Gap-jeaned, buffed-nailed, frosted blondes." She said she didn't want to be around their wives either.
Since Carrie seemed pretty inflexible, I decided to see how Diane felt about leaving the wholesome brightness of Starbucks for the tattooed darkness of Midnite Expresso.
"Why would I want to be in a place patronized by gangs of shaved-head kids," she asked. "All they care about is upgrading their skateboards."
She added, "Those punks think 'alternative life style' means marriage and a family."
I tried to defend the place and the customers it attracts. I told Diane I like going to these youth hangouts and seeing the latest trends and styles. That really set her off.
"Like pierced noses," she scoffed. "Every time I see a little white diamond stud perched just above the nostril, I either want to pop it or dab some Oxy-10 on it."
She continued. "These teenage boys obviously don't know goatees have gone mainstream."
She was right. Goatees are now appearing on the establishment. Wasn't Regis wearing one the other day? I know I saw Melissa with one.
We flipped a coin. Heads, we went to Starbucks and mingled with men losing their hair to aging. Tails, we went to Midnite Expresso and mingled with men losing their hair to Bic.
We walked into Midnite Expresso with Carrie leading the way. Diane's blue and white checkered, seersucker shorts were about as out of place as clean cups.
We took our espressos and sat at one of the outdoor tables. Carrie promptly pointed out our faux pas.
"That is the highly coveted 'look at me' table," she said. "That's reserved for poets and rebels." Ashamed, we scurried back inside.
"This place could use some music," Diane said to the remote guy behind the counter.
"What kind of music would you want," he scoffed.
"How about Prodigy," Diane said, "or maybe some Social Distortion." Then warming up to the subject, she said, "Smashing Pumpkins might be nice."
Smashing Pumpkins! Go girlfriend! He smiled! Mr. Bored actually smiled!
But, not one to leave well enough alone, Diane had to suggest some vintage Neil.
"Young," the guy asked.
"Not Diamond," Carrie and I cringed.
"Sedaka," Diane said, flipping her Jane Pauly hair defiantly. Carrie deserted us to join the sculptors at the outside table. Diane and I drove to 7 Eleven and drank Sanka in her purple minivan.
Huey never sounded better.
Editors Note: Although this editorial is a few weeks old technical problems precluded its placement on-line until now.