Gratitude problem

Trawling for Thanksgiving quotes, Pacific Sun-contributor and Petaluma Argus-Courier community-editor David Templeton emailed a questionnaire to the usual suspects. He topped it with “What are you most thankful for right now?” I have yet to reply because A) I’m on my own damn deadline and B) the question gives me psychic hives.

I begrudge Templeton nothing, but the query registers as a threat to the heap of social anxiety that cringes just below my well-hewn persona. Perhaps it’s too personal or too undeveloped to express, or maybe I haven’t taken the time to cook up a pithy, on-brand answer—something affably wry with just enough poignancy to suggest I’m human.

This isn’t the first time I’ve failed this test. Remember Cafe Gratitude, the vegan cafe on Marin’s Miracle Mile? They were known for a peculiar ritual that arrived with the bill—the server would ask, in that sanctimonious tone peculiar to aughts-era millennials, “What are you grateful for?”

Sudden, self-righteous rage was harder to come by back then so I suppose I should’ve been grateful for that. As with Templeton now, I hadn’t worked up a bit back then, so I improvised something about my disdain for ending sentences in a preposition.

“There’s no ‘attitude’ in ‘gratitude,’” they replied.

I had to write it down on the napkin to make sure. Damn it, they were right. Cafe Gratitude shuttered all of its Bay Area eateries by 2015. The owners retreated to Los Angeles and a year later endured death threats from vegans after they decided to start eating meat again. No one got hurt (except, apparently, some animals) and Cafe Gratitude continues to thrive as a vegan hub in several LowCal locations.

I was curious as to whether the proprietors brought their post-meal question ritual to Los Angeles, so I called the location in my old neighborhood, Venice. When asked, Jalysa kindly informed me that their location asks a different question every day. At the time of this reporting, the query was “What are you overcoming today?” I suppose I’m overcoming my ingratitude today, Jalysa. Here’s why:

According to PsychologyToday.com, that online enclave where armchair psychologists can diagnose their exes’ borderline personality disorders, one will also learn that “Psychologists find that…feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems.” Which is to say me and my entire readership. So, in our mutual self-interest, I’ll start:

I’m grateful someone put the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving playlist on Spotify.

I was playing “Charlie’s Blues” while writing these very words when my partner Karen asked, “Are you on hold?”

“Good grief,” I sighed. But, yeah, some Vince Guaraldi jazz does sound like on-hold music.

Grateful or grating? I dunno. Now you, dear reader—what are you grateful for?

Daedalus Howellhttps://dhowell.com
Daedalus Howell is the writer-director of the feature filmsPill Head and the upcoming Werewolf Serenade. Learn more at dhowell.com.


  1. Actually, Gratitude is not thriving. They just closed 2 of their 6 locations with rumors they’re closing two more early in 2020.


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