In the beginning, there were sugar cubes, and it was glorious.
They came in a white porcelain bowl, these cubes, and they were accessorized with shiny metal tongs with which to plunk them into one’s coffee. (Plunk!) The simple charm and aesthetic goodness of these sugar cubes should not be underestimated. They were brown and lumpy and rustic looking—like something someone’s barefoot French grandma had mashed together in her cottage kitchen in between kneading the daily baguette and force-feeding the goose. They were the cornerstone of myriad small and vital details that made my love of Café Septieme bloom.
But Septieme retired the old sugar cubes ages ago—just one of way-too-many small and completely wrong changes that the café has forced upon me. Us. Everyone. They replaced these wonderful cubes with trashy sugar packets…those obnoxious, infuriating little packets. And, oh, how I despise them!
The nasty little sugar packets create unsightly piles of garbage and shocking drifts of litter that gather in the corners of the table, stick to your fingers, and cling to the bottom of your cup. There is no place to dispose of them, they sift to the floor, and the waiters never take them away. They are awkward and vaguely disgusting. Septieme should never have traded them up. It was a mistake. An exercise in bad judgment. Septieme’s charm factor dropped 10 points accordingly. More, maybe. Definitely.
And now, they’ve come for the cream.
Septieme’s cream was once as God meant cream to be, served cool in its own little porcelain pitcher. Tragically, the cool white cream pitchers have been suddenly put to pasture and replaced with those cheap faux-cream “creamers” in plastic containers, each crammed to its faux-cream cranny with unnatural preservatives and evil intentions. They stand all day in the heat without fussing, and create fifteen times the landfill of the nasty little sugar packets. No honest person could claim that consuming these abominations of dairy is salubrious. God only knows the damage they do to one’s pancreas. They are against everything I stand for.
But there have been even more recent developments at Septieme that are cause for more serious alarm. Among these is the sudden and shocking appearance if an, um, electric organ. Yes. Electric organ. The kind of electric organ preferred by tent-revivalists, under-funded Lutherans, and queer public school music teachers with Phantom of the Opera obsessions called “Mr. Russell”. And if you’re wondering, the answer is yes, an electric organist came along with it (I don’t know his name…dare I guess, “Mr. Russell”?), and he organs during dinner, he organs at desert, and no matter what he’s organing, it all sounds like Lawrence fucking Welk. Because, hey, electric organ.
Um. Well, Jesus.
But hold onto your organ, for, indeed, there’s even worse news. Please forgive me for telling you. Someone has to.
The walls are yellow. You heard me.
Please to understand: Café Septieme has been around for a long, long time. It began life in Belltown and enjoyed an age when Dan Savage was counted among its colorful and surly wait staff (one day he shaved off his huge afro and disappeared—-no one has heard a word from him since.) I’ve eaten there close to three billion times. And, yes, I understand it went through a recent change of ownership or whatever, and yes, I know that change is inevitable. Thanks, mom. But one thing about Septieme was eternal, consistent, and completely dependable: Red walls.
And not just any old red: Dark, dirty, rag-painted café red, evocative of abattoirs and smoky Parisians. (The exact same red I painted my own bedroom, if you must know.) The red covered the walls and ceiling and was the blood-clot icing on the Septieme cake. It was warm and comfortable and embracing and decrepit and bohemian, like the wretched womb that gave birth to Bordeaux. It was perfect.
And now, well, yellow.
And what a yellow! Not lemon yellow, nor sunshine yellow, nor butter yellow (which would have been offensive enough), but sickly, rusty, sponge-painted-pee-of-an-Easter-egg-with-toxic-liver-syndrome yellow. And yellow is not a color for the café. Everyone knows this. It is a color for the McDonnald’s. The Denny’s. The Wendy’s. The Arby’s. The taco. It is the national color of fast food and hepatitis and the snow you never eat. And it breaks my heart.
They’ve only yellowed the walls in the big dinning room so far, but it seems inevitable that the ceiling and the bar area and the rest will soon fall too, don’t you think? That shit looks contagious.
Oh, Café Septieme. I’ve loved you so. Why are you doing this to me?!?!