Doutor Doutor — "Almond Caramel Latte"

by David Cady

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Doutor is Japan's largest coffee shop chain, with at least thirteen-hundred smoke-choked outlets nationwide, according to sources close to the matter. They just put one in my train station last week, and I'm still dizzy with the novelty of it all. While passing the shop on my way home from work the other night, I watched a man perhaps in his fifties leave the establishment sporting a wreath of grey hair and a black toupee that was beyond being merely askew. The thing was practically stuck on his cheek. He then plopped a ten-gallon Gilligan hat on his head, wearing it high and proud, and hustled up the escalator to catch a train. I wonder if he drank a can of Doutor Doutor "Almond Caramel Latte" before stepping out. I'll bet he did. I'll bet the rich, sweet flavors triggered some old memory from the days when he had a stupendous head of hair, back when he was the pick of the fucking litter and would take his girlfriends out for ice cream. The more he sipped, the more he pawed his wig, searching for the old him, the manly him. He grew sad, then frustrated, then rageful, at one point yanking off his toupee and berating it, punctuating his barks with a jabbing, accusatory


finger. He then placed the matted toupee on the can of coffee — which was creamy and not too sweet — and scolded the can for looking so idiotic. This made him giggle and his eyes shine. He made up his mind to ditch the hairpiece forever and live as a bald man. Out. Yes, he would quit his job and become a photographer, or maybe open his own coffee shop, one where the customers ground their own beans in small wooden grinders. But when he heard the rumbling of an incoming train overhead, his hands moved faster than his cogitations, and he slapped the toupee in the vicinity of his head, grabbed his cap and book and left the shop. Hat! He remembered his hat and dropped it into place, nice and high like he liked it. While heading for the escalator, he tried to recall the English word for "rude," because he wanted to communicate to the creepy foreigner slouching by the ticket gate that it was impolite to stare.

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