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Me and My Shadow

[whitespace] Joe DiMaggio He doesn't know where he'd have gone if not to the coffee shop. To the taverns, where the drunks and floozies would claw at him? No, he has to appreciate the coffee shop, where even a living legend can peer into some brown liquid, into his soul.

You do something to me
Something that simply mystifies me
Tell me why should it be
That you've got the power to hypnotize me?
"You Do Something to Me" (Porter)

By Christopher Weir

HE STARES AT THE cigarette between his fingers, then exhales a steady stream of white vapor. He watches the vapor twist, writhe and ultimately vanish amid the coffee shop's hot fluorescence. If only Marilyn would vanish so easily. Fat chance. Hell, he can still smell her perfume hovering through his nicotine haze. He might have seen her for the last time tonight, but she'll never really vanish. At least not from his memories. And maybe even his heart.

"More coffee, sir?"

He smiles and nods. The waitress refills his cup, then hurries back to the kitchen. He's a living legend. She doesn't want to make him feel uncomfortable by hanging around. For once, he wishes someone would hang around. He takes a sip, then glances at the empty booths, the empty stools.

Another drag, another sip, another regret.

A warm wind slams against the windows, the stale Silicon Valley air careens off El Camino Real and slithers through every joint and crevice. The early-morning hours are stacking up amid the darkness beyond, buoyed by his restlessness, encouraged by his brooding.

At least there's the coffee shop. He doesn't know where he'd have gone if it weren't for the coffee shop. To the clubs, the taverns, where all the drunks and floozies would claw at him for autographs, for trysts, for provocations, for worse?

No, he has to appreciate this new phenomenon, the coffee shop, this iridescent 24-hour sanctuary where even a living legend can peer into the deep night, into some brown liquid, into his soul.

And, for once, in peace.

He stubs out his cigarette. He wonders exactly when he lost control. When she lost control. When they lost control. The cigarette burns for another moment, then smolders. The ashtray might as well be a mirror.

He is a poor Sicilian kid from San Francisco who made it big with the bat and emerged essentially unscathed from the firestorm of New York baseball, his legend not only intact, but perhaps unparalleled. His career is defined by the summer of '41, when he safely batted in 56 consecutive games, a record destined to outlast the home-run records of Ruth, the consecutive-games-played record of Iron Man Gehrig, and perhaps every other noteworthy record on the books. Fifty-six straight games ... a record like that is about more than talent. It's about composure.

See, nothing bothers Joltin' Joe. Not high, hard ones hurled in the vicinity of his head. Not the taunts following contract squabbles with the Yankees. And certainly not post-divorce headlines screaming, "DiMaggio Strikes Out!"

But tonight something is bothering Joltin' Joe, though he tries hard to fend it off with logic and cigarettes. Sure, to any observer his trademark composure, the bedrock of his persona, would appear intact. Within, however, he is waging a visceral battle between his image and his reality, between his mind and his heart.

Between that man and a woman.

Another sip, another memory. He chuckles faintly. It wasn't funny then, of course. But the years have shed their bitterness, and the embers of anger have long cooled.

It happened during the filming of The Seven Year Itch, at that pivotal moment when the star--that is, his wife--stepped over a subway grate, the hot subterranean wind hiking her white skirt up to her waist. It all went according to script until one indiscreetly positioned rubbernecker hollered in a thick New York accent: "Jeez, I thought she was a real blonde!"

Joltin' Joe was furious. Humiliated, too. A friend tried to console him with drinks at a local haunt, but to no avail. Finally, the friend waved a frustrated hand and muttered, "Well, what can you expect when you marry a whore?"

It wasn't really the words that stung, but rather their honest resonance.

The marriage soon spiraled out of control, poisoned by an increasingly volatile elixir of Hollywood gossip and irreparable incompatibility. Less than two weeks after the divorce ... yes, that was exactly when he lost control. Drunk and enraged, he threatened to kick down the door to the apartment of one of Marilyn's unsavory friends. Two of his buddies intervened, but Joltin' Joe could not be placated. Finally, one of them called Sinatra, who rushed to the apartment building with a buddy. Order wasn't necessarily restored, but the door survived.

Tonight, the thought of Sinatra still boils his blood. It's the tentacles of that crooner's crowd, he believes, that are pulling her deeper and deeper into the vortex of drunken instability. Rumors persist that she is now involved with Attorney General Kennedy, and maybe even his brother.

There's a thought. His wife. Screwing the president.

The coffee is now cold and bitter, and the sun threatens to peek through the troubled dawn. He shouldn't have gone out last night. Then he wouldn't have run into her at the restaurant. He wouldn't have seen the pain lurking in her carefree, flirtatious, intoxicated eyes.

He wouldn't have had to admit to himself that he still loves her.

If he were given to premonitions, he might see himself bending over a casket later this summer, delivering one last kiss to a life extinguished but not forgotten. But he is not given to premonitions. And so vague hopes persist.

He throws a few dollars down on the counter, stuffs the pack of cigarettes into his pocket. He steps out onto the pavement. The wind is still warm, yet he draws his coat tight. The Valley of Heart's Delight smells no better than before. But no worse, either. He can't wait to get back home.

His footsteps echo through the lonely avenues. He pauses for a moment, looks over his shoulder at the spectral neon, at the towering sign that burns like a beacon. Through the broad windows, he can see the waitress wiping down the counter.

God bless the coffee shop. It won't save Marilyn's life. But tonight, it may have saved his.

A Joe DiMaggio Kind of Place


Barnes and Noble 1875 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell (408/559-8101).

Campbell Coffee Roasting Co.
1875 S. Bascom Ave., #112, Campbell (408/559-8040).

City Espresso #1
1820-B W. Campbell Ave., Campbell (408/370-477).

Orchard Valley Coffee Roasting
349 E. Campbell Ave., (408/374-2115).


Coffee Society
Oaks Shopping Center, 21265 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino (408/725-8091).

Fantasia Coffee & Tea
10933 N. Wolfe Rd., Cupertino (408/865-1689).


Coffee Roasting Club
7501 Monterey Road, Gilroy (408/847-5120).

First Street Coffee Exchange
1211 First St., Gilroy (408/842-1340).


The Bean Cafe
34323 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (510/759-6822).

Los Gatos

Café Rouge
42 Elm St., Los Gatos (408/395-1599).

Dolce Spazio
221 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos (408/395-1335).

Great Bear Coffee/Los Osos Cafe
19 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos (408/395-8607).

Los Gatos Coffee Roasting
101 W. Main St., Los Gatos (408/354-3263).

Mission Valley Coffee Roasting Co.
40059 Mission Blvd., Fremont (510/440-0321)

Menlo Park

Café Borrone
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (650/327-0830).


Borders Books, Music, and Cafe
15 Ranch Dr., Milpitas (408/934-1180).

Java Garden Café
1215 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas (408/262-1061).

Morgan Hill

Breaktime Espresso Bar
614 Tennant St., Morgan Hill (408/778-9395)

Morgan Hill Coffee Roasting
Monterey Road and Second Street, Morgan Hill (408/778-2586).

Mountain View

Bay City Coffee Roasting
632 San Antonio Rd., Mountain View (650/941-9955).

Cuppa Joe
194 Castro St., Mountain View (650/967-2294).

The Islands Espresso
530 Showers Dr., Mountain View (650/917-1690).

Jumpin' Java Coffee House
744 W. Dana St., Mountain View (650/390-9638).

Mountain View City Cyber Cafe
City Center Bldg., 650 Castro St., Mountain View (650/964-3707).

Red Rock Coffee Co.
201 Castro St., Mountain View (650/967-4473).

Palo Alto

Borders Books, Music, and Cafe
456 University Ave., Palo Alto (650/326-3670)

Caffé Verona
236 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto (650/326-9942).

Printers Inc. Cafe
320 California Ave., Palo Alto (650/323-3347).

Prolific Oven
550 Waverley St., Palo Alto (650/326-8485).

St. Michael's Alley
806 Emerson St., Palo Alto (650/326-2530).

University Coffee Cafe
217 University Ave., Palo Alto (650/322-5301).

San Jose

Barnes and Noble
3600 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose (408/984-3495).

Café Docanto
7 N.. 33rd St., San Jose (408/272-2929).

Cafe Leviticus
1445 The Alameda, San Jose (408/279-8877).

Cafe Matisse
371 S. First St., San Jose (408/298-7788).

Caffé Pastaia
(in Hotel DeAnza) 233 W. Santa Clara (408/286-8686).

Caffé Zucco
74 S. First St., San Jose (408/297-9777).

Camera 3 Cafe
288 S. Second St., San Jose (408/998-0932).

Casa Vicky
792 E. Julian St., San Jose (408/995-5488).

City Espresso
632 E. Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose (408/972-4500).

1204 N. Capitol Ave., San Jose (408/923-4662).

Coffee Cantata
702 Meridian Ave #I, San Jose (408/445-2224).

Cozine Coffee Magazine
23 Post St., San Jose (408/292-8477).

Espresso Amore
5965 Almaden Expwy., #O, San Jose (408/323-0423)

Espresso Garden and Café
814 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose (408/298-0808).

Java N Juice
519 W. Capitol Expwy., San Jose (408/265-8301).

Keystone Coffee
321 S. First St., San Jose (408/292-4698).

Lynn's Coffee
1657 Tully Rd., San Jose (408/259-6232).

Moonrock Café
2650 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose (408/258-4514).

Moulin Rouge Coffee Roasting
628 Town and Country Village, Stevens Creek and South Winchester boulevards, San Jose (408/247-4611).

St. James Coffee
1683 Branham Lane, San Jose (408/978-9040)

Valley Yogurt/Espresso
3276 S. White Rd., San Jose (408/270-4307).

Vienna Coffee Roasting
2067 Camden Ave., San Jose (408/371-1981).

Willow Glen Roasting Co.
383 Lincoln Ave., San Jose (408/297-9077).

Santa Clara

Cafe Aroma
3488 El Camino Real, Santa Clara (408/985-9555).

City Lights Espresso
1171 Homestead Rd., Santa Clara (408/296-0415).

Coffee Factory
3787 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara (408/296-7600).

Mission City Coffee Roasting
2221 The Alameda, Santa Clara (408/261-2221).


Blue Rock Shoot
14523 Big Basin Way, Saratoga (408/741-5180).

International Coffee Exchange
14471 Big Basin Way, Saratoga (408/741-1185).

18562-A Prospect Rd., Saratoga (408/777-8226).


The Bean Scene
186 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale (408/738-4523).

Various Locations

Peets Coffee & Tea
1330 El Paseo de Saratoga, San Jose (408/871-0907); 2035 Camden Ave, San Jose (408/371-9088); 367 State St, Los Altos (650/941-6722); 798 Blossom Hill Rd, Los Gatos (408/358-6311); 899 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park (650/325-8989); 153 Homer Ave, Palo Alto (650/325-2091); 77 Town and Country Village, Palo Alto (650/328-4771).

San Jose stores: 2721 Aborn Road (408/270-1383); 1600 Saratoga Ave. (408/374-4295); Pavilion Shops, 150 S. First St. (650/293-9945); 854 Blossom Hill Road (408/224-7574); 6477 Almaden Expwy. (408/323-9511); and 1396 Lincoln Ave. (408/298-5272). Other cities: 693 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park (650/323-5118); 276 University Ave., Palo Alto (650/321-8600); 1677 Hollenbeck, Sunnyvale (408/733-5762); 795 E. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale (408/749-8158); 20520-A Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino (408/973-8358); 127 Ranch Dr., Milpitas (408/934-9810); 2370 El Camino Real, Santa Clara (408/984-7174); 1696 Bascom Ave., Campbell (408/371-6703); and 251 Vineyard Town Center Way, Morgan Hill (408/779-8692).

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From the June 11-17, 1998 issue of Metro.

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