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Larry's Dream 

My friend Larry has a dream: a Costa Rican coffee plantation. You can buy a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, he says, for what it costs to buy a house in Bethesda. Once there, he's going to plant the best coffee beans in the world and build several cabins for all his friends who are going to live happily in the tropical forest with the amazing waterfall. Yes, it's tropical there and there is an amazing waterfall that comes straight down the mountains to form a foamy frolic pool. Larry doesn't have a specific place in mind: all coffee plantations in Costa Rica are like this. When the coffee comes in, he's going to sell it on the Internet, where he buys his coffee now.

Larry buys green coffee beans on the Internet, roasts them himself, then grinds them fresh every morning and, as he sips in the exotic and fresh aroma, he dreams about his coffee plantation in Costa Rica. There are already investors, he says. He's trying to convince me to buy in. I kind of like the waterfall. But what about picking the beans? Don't you need mules? And hired help? Not at all, he says, we will be the mules and the help, and then we go frolic. All we really need, and this may be expensive, is these small Sumatran cats that eat the beans and pass them through their digestive system. This particular Sumatran-cat-pooped coffee is worth more than gold or cocaine; it brings dizzying sums on eBay. It will pay, enthuses Larry now on his second cup, for the plantation in one year. And if we can't get the cats, we will do it ourselves.

I'm not sure when this coffee thing took a hold of Larry's mind, but it's made him a first-rate specialist. He goes on about soil, weather, brews, blends, markets and tastes, as if he were already the CEO of the largest coffee company in the world. The only trouble is that it's an imaginary company. Larry doesn't have any money. He needs to convince potential investors that the Sumatran cats will gobble and eliminate enough coffee beans to make everybody rich and not just materially, but spiritually as well, once the waterfall and the frolic pools get in the mix.

I'm attracted. Like all shmoes who've missed the opportunities of the '90s, I dream of an investment coup. This is perfect. The gold rush of the '90s could itself be attributed to the strong coffee that barreled out of Seattle unto America like a waterfall of techno-dreams. The prosperity of the Clinton-years was brewed at Starbucks. Who's to say we can't start up the engine again on some remote mountain in Costa Rica with the help of some Sumatran cats? Stranger things have happened.

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