When I was at the height of my possibly never-to-be-explained and now mysteriously receding symptoms (See 9/25 and 9/30 entries.), I decided that the Coffee Underground was too dark. A man in recovery needs sunshine and open spaces.

He also needs to get out of the house on occasion, lest he go stir crazy, so becoming housebound isn’t an option. He needs wi-fi, too.

The recent repeal of Starbuck’s pay-to-play wi-fi policy gave me a good above-ground alternative and now, after almost two months, Starbucks on Main is beginning to feel pretty familiar.

What a study in contrast the two places are. One a gigantic international chain’s trendy beachhead in Greenville’s trendy West End, the other a locally-owned success story at the northern gateway to Greenville’s celebrated Main Street corridor. One bright, the other dark. One cosmopolitan, the other bohemian.

Starbucks customers seem more up-and-coming, too. They dress better. They talk like the winners they are, or will become. Strong, aggressive voices. Flattened tones. Good hair. Toned bodies.

Another difference between Starbucks and the Underground is that it’s possible for me to be completely alone at Starbucks, no matter how crowded it gets. Six city blocks from the place where everybody knows my name, for better or worse, I’m a stranger in my own land.