A Modenista’s Two Basic Needs: Caffeine and Couture….
Major Dickinson and I have been having an illustrious affair for over 25 years. I discovered him on the street corner of Vine and Walnut in Berkeley while I was vintage clothes shopping. He was dark, rich, and smelled aromatically divine. I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot live without him, but I’m pretty sure he can function without me. No matter, I’m still loyal. It takes Major Dick, as I like to call him, to get me up out of bed and my creative juices flowing. In fact, I concocted this entire post whilst consuming Major Dick on my way to work.
Hallelujah to Peet’s Coffee for breeding my love, Major Dickinson. A big shout-out to the Ethiopians for starting this wonderful thing called coffee. And let’s not forget the Columbians for putting Folgers on every shelf in middle America, including my parents’! I am shlump toast without it.
I used to travel 30 minutes out of my way to hit Peet’s before work. Los Gatos was the only Peet’s Coffee joint in the South Bay Area, so one can imagine how important it was to my daily life. In fact, the first twin tower in New York City was hit when I was on my way to Peet’s that morning. The second was hit when I reached my destination. I shared my thoughts and feelings, first and foremost, with my Peet’s comrades as the events unfolded and our emotions further bonded us beyond our weird coffee obsession.
My love affair with Major Dick led me to the dress pictured in this post! There was a small hole-in-the-wall store a few paces down from Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley. A Nan Kemper-ish woman, with two calico cats living in the store, used to sit elegantly in her tapestry chair, smoking a cigar and sipping Major Dick. Ah, the smell of cat piss and coffee in the morning. As much as I love Major Dick, I love a good Cuban as well. There is something about the aroma, grainy texture, and sweet taste a Cohiba leaves in one’s mouth–it’s a bizarre guilty pleasure.
I would try to engage this woman in conversation as she clenched her Cuban and perused the paper. She would ignore me and grunt every once in awhile. After visiting her store a dozen times, I would take those grunts as positive sign that she approved of my taste. Letting me walk away with a purchase was another story. Her store was a treasure trove of beautiful and awe-inspiring things. A virtual wasteland of her past, I imagined these things held the sultry secrets to her life. It’s no wonder she didn’t want to let go. I completely understand now where she was coming from, as I will inevitably be that woman one day. She let me walk away with one divine purchase: a chiffon dress with gold flowers weaved into the fabric. It reminds me of Oscar De La Renta (a man clearly worth writing about as his retrospective is storming the museums all over the world).
So I left this woman to her cigar and coffee and wandered out onto Vine street to discover more about what the day had to offer. Thank you, Major Dick, for leading me to this store…and to this dress! What would I do without you?!
The chiffon dress was purchased at the above mentioned store many years ago. I think the cigar lady has since passed because the shop no longer exists. Where her treasures went? I don’t know. Hopefully not into the abyss.
Dress: Risaroxx Vintage maxi dress; shoes: Risaroxx Vintage brocade bow slides; T-shirt is my own.