I walk in, and I can barely find a place to stand—let alone sit. As I sidle up to the back of a ridiculously long line of people (waiting for nothing more than flavored coffee beans), I wonder what kind of crack they use in the brewing process. Images of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld come to mind. The colorful menu hanging behind the counter intimidates me, and before I know it, it’s my turn to order.
“Hi!” the barista overenthusiastically salutes.
“Uh … ” is my only reply, as I quickly scan the menu again. My eyes stop at the chalkboard menu with a swirly font, and pretty pictures. I choose something from there, and hope it doesn’t give me gas.
Like a vulture scanning for a defenseless creature, I search the room for an empty seat. No luck … but wait! That lady just might be getting ready to leave (either that or she’s readjusting her incredibly high-waisted pants). Yes! She’s leaving. I make a beeline for the empty seat, knocking over an innocent bystander or two in the process.
On this chilly December afternoon, I squeeze into the seat with my bag (which is roughly half my size), my jacket with a thousand pockets, and a scarf so long it’s wrapped around my neck 147 times. I can’t hear my name called over the blah blah blah and soft music, but then I notice an annoyed barista craning his neck in my direction, and I assume my drink is up. He plasters the all too familiar hurry up and get your drink smile on his face, and hands it off to me.
The drink I ordered is so sweet, it instantly turns my tongue into cotton. I find myself staring longingly at the green tea belonging to the gentleman sitting to my left. Why do I stray from what I like? Their menu is evil, and it entraps me every time. Beneath the kaleidoscope of color and curly font lies a subtext that reads: If you don’t try this overpriced latte, you’ll be missing out on an orgasm of flavor like you’ve never known, and will die a horribly dull death, with a rosebud-esque last whisper on your breath that sounds very much like … peppermint mocha latte. Really, it’s there if you look closely.
My vain attempt to drown out the millions of bits of white noise going on around me fails pathetically. Alas, it is no use. The noises win, and mellow song after catchy mellow song lulls me into doing nothing more than staring out the window with a glazed look in my eyes. I catch myself before I actually start to drool, and see a man staring at me from across the room. I smile, and quickly look away, thoroughly convinced that the music carries subliminal messages too. I amuse myself by imagining Sarah McLachlan holding a microphone in one hand, and one of their crack coffee concoctions in the other, crooning something along the lines of sweet surrender … to caffeine or die!
“Excuse me. I just wanted to let you know that I wasn’t staring at you … I just couldn’t get my wallet out of my pocket,” says the man who had been staring my way earlier.
It takes me a second to figure out who this man is, but before I can answer, he continues, “I didn’t want you to think I was some kind of pervert or something.”
Shocked that a complete stranger just said the word “pervert,” I stare at him for a few seconds, and then quickly begin to explain that I never thought he was a pervert. Seemingly satisfied with the idea that someone doesn’t think he’s a voyeuristic fiend, he resumes by staring at me for a few more (increasingly uncomfortable) seconds.
“You have a very cute smile (insert awkward pause here). I’m not a pervert,” The man continues.
The green tea gentleman beside me rustles his New York Times.
“I didn’t think you were,” I reiterate, and tuck my legs closer to my body, so that I’m now nothing more than a tiny ball of jacket, purse, and scarf. Desperately, I try and recollect every defense move taught to me in my tae kwon do class, as my eyes dart to find the nearest exit.
After a few more self-conscious seconds, he finally walks away. As soon as the door closes, and the annoying air thing above it turns off, Mr. Green Tea leans over and asks, “So what did the pervert have to say?” and rolls his eyes.
I feel myself relax instantly, and start to laugh.
I go back to my notepad and pen, and suddenly remember why I put up with the overpriced coffee, crowds, music, and infomercial personalities of the employees: like the drinks, you never know what life is going to serve.