Alas, Chantico, I Hardly Knew Thee

by J.D. Roth

“I’d like a chantico and an apple fritter,” I announced to the Starbucks waitron this morning. I make a similar declaration about once a week.

Chantico!” shouted the waitron to the young woman standing at the steamer three feet away. Then she beamed at me and said, “You’re enjoying those chanticos while you still can, huh?”

“They’re going away?”

“That’s right.” She seemed quite pleased, actually. During the year that chanticos (chanticoes? chantici?) have been available, I’ve noticed that they’re a pain for the Starbucks waitrons. They often sigh or groan or make little looks of exasperation when I order them. About a third of the time, I’m asked if I’d mind waiting because “we have to make a new batch”. Apparently the chantico hasn’t sold as well as Starbucks could have wished. (I wonder if their numbers show some sort of statistical anomaly at the Canby, Oregon City, and Oak Grove stores — “Look, Marvin, chantici are especially popular in one county in Oregon. Why do you suppose that is?”)

“How long do I have before the chantico is gone for good?” I asked.

“Until we run out of the mix,” said the waitron with a satisfied air.

What will I do now? What did I order before the chantico came? I guess I tried to order steamed milk drinks, but half the time the waitrons would mess up and give me iced milk drinks. An iced milk is not so appealing as a chantico on a January morning.

(Note: the spellchecker in my text editor has no qualms with the word ‘waitron’. I am shocked.)

I used to carry my camera with me everywhere I went, but I’ve gotten out of the habit. Recently this has caused me much regret.

Last week the heavy rains caused the streams and rivers to swell and flood. There were several shots I missed: the overflow of Gribble Creek, the boathouse that had slipped its moorings and slammed into the side of the Oregon City Marina, the frothy full Willamette Falls, and countless flooded streams and ditches.

On Tuesday I missed two fantastic shots. The first featured dramatic lighting as a break in black storm clouds let the sun shine in at an odd angle, highlighting an old white barn in golden tones. I’m not sure exactly how I would have framed it, but at least if I had my camera with me I could have tried. The second would have been a wide-angle shot of towering billowy clouds near the Molalla hills, vast puffy structures the likes of which used to spark my imagination as a child.

Today I brought my camera with me to work. “Hot dog!” I thought as I pulled onto Oglesby. “Look at that.” The dark clouds over the Molalla hills showed the barest sliver of orange. When I got to work, I walked back to the field behind the shop to snap some images. (Not that I had a tripod with me, but that’s another story.) A great idea, but my camera battery was dead. Of course. When I fail to practice a hobby for a while, I forget the fundamentals. One of the fundamentals of photography is: check your battery (and always carry a spare).

The sunrise was gorgeous: pink and orange and red gilding the low charcoal clouds. I just don’t have it on film to prove it.

On my drive to work — as I was sipping my chantico — I decided that the title to this entry would be “Alas, chantico, I hardly knew thee”, with the caveat that I would need to google for the proper structure based on the source of this quotation. However, a google search was less-than-helpful. For one, it revealed thousands of matches (1.7 million to be precise). For another, it seems that most people use the structure “alas, [blank], we hardly knew ye”.

Ye? Ye? Can this be right? It feels wrong to me. Ye feels like it ought to be the nominative case, but maybe I’m just pulling that out of thin air. (I grant that my mind says that it is “we” who hardly knew whomever.)

What is the quotation I remember? Is it a mashup of Hamlet’s “alas, poor Yorick” and something else? How is it that the web is filled with close approximations with this, yet I cannot find the original? Lisa? Joel? Dave? Anyone care to point me in the right direction?

Updated: 05 January 2006

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
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