What’s in a Name?

I’m reading a mystery that takes place in a historic coffee shop, which is interesting in itself because I didn’t realize how far back coffee shops went — way back to the 1700s, actually. And maybe even before. I thought they were a more recent idea, though I don’t know why I supposed that — after all, beverage restaurants go back to the beginning of time. (The time of commerce, anyway.) Grog shops, pubs, taverns, wineries, tea houses, so why not coffee shops? I’m sure when chocolate became popular in the 1700s, there were chocolate shops, too, though a cursory look at Google’s offerings didn’t tell me if my surmise was correct.

But I should have known about coffee shops; after all, the term “café society” was coined in the early twentieth century, though the custom of literati, artists, and socialites gathering at coffee shops after attending cultural activities stems from the nineteenth century in the United States. Although coffee shops were prevalent in European culture, they didn’t become the cultural icon they are today in the USA until the later part of the twentieth century.

So, here I am in a fictional coffee shop that has been around for a hundred years, “listening” to the manager of the shop ramble on and on about the different coffee beans, the different ways of brewing, the different tastes and smells (particularly smell since apparently half the appreciation of coffee lies in the scent), as well as the various undertones, overtones, and aftertastes.

Reminds me of wine. People always taste more in wine than I’ve ever been able to even guess. Maybe it’s like music — even a good barbershop quartet grates on my poor ears because I hear only a single discordant sound. Afficionados and others with a musical ear can hear each tone separately, and so they can appreciate the harmony.

I’ve never been able to taste anything in wine but . . . wine. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my tastes run more to a slightly sweet sparkling wine, though the last time I had any wine (a glass of Seven Daughter’s Moscato) was a couple of years ago when a friend took me out to dinner to celebrate my buying a house. So you can see, I am not a big fan of fermented grapes.

And coffee? It all tastes the same to me, so I find it amusing that I am drinking a cup of instant coffee doctored with honey and lots of cream while I am reading what amounts to a connoisseur’s guide to coffee sandwiched between a couple of murders.

It’s a good thing I never aspired to be member of café society. There’s just no getting away from my plebian tastes when it comes to . . . well, almost everything. Books, movies, art, coffee, wine — plebian all the way. It’s ironic, really, when you consider that my name comes from patrician, which is the exact opposite of plebian.

I guess the answer to Shakespeare’s question, “What’s in a name?” is “Nothing.”


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

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