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Back Buzz - April 7, 2004

pumping heart Lounge Coffee Bar, 270 Glossop Road, Sheffield S1, South Yorkshire

When I first walked into the starkly decorated Lounge I thought I was back in Seattle -- downtown Seattle, that is, at one of the many hi-tech drink-it-n-run latte factories. But then I spotted the full bar and the cushy furniture and knew I was in no ordinary hi-tech coffee bar. In fact Lounge seems to be more of a nightclub than a coffee bar, although in the daytime it can definitely pass as a savvy city centre lunchtime cafe complete with espresso machine.

The barista was very friendly and had no problem with my order of a macchiato, as it's one of the choices on the coffee menu. Ah, yes, it does my heart good to find these occasional oases of espresso intelligence in England. As I waited for my coffee I took in the details of the place. Although the full bar had no hand pumps it did offer Leffe, white Hoegaarden, and Budweiser Budvar, along with a small wine list and an attractive lunch menu which caters to nouveau pescavegetarians like myself. The choices include various sandwiches and lunch items prepared with ingredients like smoked salmon, goat cheese, pesto, sun-dried tomato, vegetarian sausages, caramelised onions, cajun chicken, olives, chutney, ciabatta, parmesan, buffalo mozzarella -- in other words, all sorts of mouthwatering things that, in a perfect world, everybody's kitchen would be stocked with. Good ambient music with a touch of Euro-dissonant jazz wafted through the room, matching the decor perfectly.

The barista brought my macchiato along with a glass of water, complete with lemon slice and a thin lemon-lime coloured straw. How did she know I had just finished a 3-hour high-speed walk? Was it the steam rising from my shoes, or perhaps the bits of insect wings in my teeth? Whatever the reason it was a nice touch and much appreciated. And my macchiato was delightfully presented, served not only in a proper macchiato-sized white china cup with demitasse spoon, but in a cushion-shaped cup! For purists like myself it works, it definitely works, because it's a much used modern shape, square with rounded corners -- fillets, we used to call them back when I was a graphic software developer. And there was a pillow of foam on top. I could see the barista now making a cappuccino, topped with a lumpy pillowy cloud of foam.

As I fingered the appealing Fairtrade sugar tubelets on my table I noticed more details of the high-tech decor. It's definitely pillowy with no sharp corners, which means you're in no danger of accidentally poking your eye out. The black wall benches contrast well with the white pillowy poufs, both tube-shaped and cushion-shaped like the cups. The art on the walls -- painting-shaped, not necessarily cushion-shaped -- is for sale. As I sipped my macchiato the place filled with more women. Strangely enough it was only women. Could this be a lesbian club? No, I think the place probably just has a special appeal for cosmopolitan women who want lunch. I'm sure cosmopolitan men would feel just as comfortable here, especially resting on one of the white pillowy poufs.

Along with food, drinks, and rounded squares, Lounge features Internet access, jazz and house DJs on Friday and Saturday nights, and live bands Wednesday nights. I was intrigued by the sign in the window advertising "Gay Speed Dating". Is this speed dating for gays? Or dating at a gay velocity? How fast do gays travel in relation to straights and bi's? Ah, well, something to contemplate as I sit on my rounded square throne and sip my rounded square coffee...

Speaking of cushions and thrones reminds me of an e-mail conversation with my Bay Area friend from a year ago about crowns:

I'm going to get a crown. I went to the dentist this morning and found out that the latest filling repair on molar #18 (lower left) only lasted two years, so the dentist recommended a crown. I'll get that next month. In the meantime I'll practice my posture and do neck strengthening exercises to support the extra weight.

Shall I refer to you hereafter as Your Majesty, Your Highness, or Your Rickness?

Doesn't the "lugt" in your last name mean light? In the spirit of the Sun King, how does "King Mistah Richard, the Van Light King" sound?

I don't see a Dutch option, but the "Babel Fish Translation, Auf Deutsch" renders "from the air" as "von der Luft," which is close.

So I could be His Royal Highness Mistah Richard, King of Air and Manager of B.S.

Now I'm getting my old original ill-fitting crown replaced, and I shall have my new crown installed on the 19th! I must figure out what I'm going to wear to the coronation...will England let me back in when they already have a Queen? I'd be content to be a Princess.

Since you now have your Crown and I'm due for mine, perhaps we should start discussing more weighty subjects in our e-mails. So what do you think of this unpleasantness in North Korea, my dear chap? Or what of this pompous little man in the White House who wants to create such a kerfuffle in Iraq? Oh dear, dear, I do wish I could get that nasty dog smell out of this throne...I wonder if corgis are cleaner than Lhasa apsos...

I had to wait awhile for an appointment. I will be fitted for my crown next week on the 20th, and my coronation isn't scheduled until March 6.

I suggest we meet the Prince of Whales for tea. Or perhaps a tasting of some rare single malts? On neutral territory, the Isle of Lucy, say.

Or, if that's booked up, we could meet on the Isle of Upparaid.

After an hour of drilling, filling and making impressions I have only a temporary crown. The permanent one will take two weeks to manufacture and decorate. What colour is yours? Is it velvet with rubies and emeralds? Mine will be gold.

Mine looks like a disco mirror ball with flashing multicoloured lights, and every time I salivate it sends off little rocket flares.

But that's for the crown balls only. For daily life it just looks like a tooth.