Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Coffee Shop.

My dirty green SUV, with dog toenail scratches on the passenger side door and greasy, light-brown grime from the previous blizzard of more than five months ago, eases slowly into the most appropriate, almost-closest parking space in the cramped lot. Nestled between an SUV and another SUV, the reflections of a yellow building on a developing hill blind my eyes. I squint and fall out of my trusty steel, grabbing my Mountainsmith Man Purse before I clod my way up the newly laid pavement to my new local coffee shop. The eager-for-business Veterinarian inside the new building, made of glass windows and doors, waves as he relaxes in his office chair with the very cup of cold java that I intend to sip on while I write this narrative. I love the suburbs.

You see, I'm back from a month’s vacation and have some writing to do. And what better place to pen a story than from the hip, beatnik inspired, soulful coffee cafe. The sad thing is, I don't like coffee.

That yellow building, soon to be a fitness center or organic grocery store or locally owned incense store, ricochets the reflection of that fiery yellow ball in the sky, deflecting the heated rays directly into the large windowpanes of the coffee shop. Giving the cafe the effect of, which really uneases me, a large two-way mirror. The suburbanite hipsters can all see out and assumingly all gather round to "once-over" the new guy approaching from the parking lot.

"He looks like Oscar on that old show, you know the messy guy."

"God, what's he doing here? Doesn't he know this is a cafe, not an outdoor store?"

"Ohh isn't that cute. He brought his laptop. Maybe he wants to be a writer."

I grab the aluminum handle of the glass door and swing it open. Time stands still.

Left foot in, then the right. The door swings closed violently quick and bumps me in the rear. My olive Old Navy cargo pants swat my posterior as the pressure in the cafe, like on a jet plane, is re-established. All eyes on me.

I scan, like the Terminator, to find a reasonable seat. It needs to be small and surrounded by at least two walls. Near an electrical outlet, preferably. No large cushy chairs and no bar tables, I'm here to write and need to be comfortable. My attention need be one hundred and ten percent, for I have written nothing in a month.

In the corner, near an outlet and next to one of those uncomfortably large den chairs is my table. Every other seat in the house is taken, so it has to be my table. The guy ahead of me, probably a poetry major or one of those people that rap text from old school literature books, also sees the one and only remaining table. I cut like A.I. (Allen Iverson) between the green wood chairs and the group of aging women discussing what happened today at their Botox seminar.

I step over a red Mountainsmith bag identical to mine. "Nice bag," I say to myself as I see the owner is a woman, and she is using it as a purse. Three large steps, a wiggle of the waist, and a slow saunter, I put my bag on the table. VICTORY! I may be new here, but I'm a paramedic damn-it! I deal with emergencies.

An evil leer meets my eye as I pass the looser as he seats himself in one of those ginormous leather chairs, not conducive to a laptop. Even though they are laptops.

I'm greeted at the counter with a smile. "Welcome, what can I get you to drink?" The young girl smocked in a large black apron asks.

"Uhm, well I don't reaqlly like coffee," I say out loud. "I'm really here to use the atmosphere to ignite my renewed fury for writing." I say to myself.

I grab my twenty ounce, venti, iced, chai, latte, no frills, no whip, no coffee drink and take my winner's lap slowly back to my table. The spoils have gone to the victor! And those spoils are one cold, non-coffee drink and a nice, little, wooden table in the corner. Next to an outlet.

I pull out from my man purse my white laptop -actually it is my wife's. But, regardless of the true owner, the white color of this laptop alone billboards the fact that regardless of how I dress, that I have fashion. The transparent apple on the lid illuminates as it "wakes up."

With my chai to my left, my Blackberry to my right (in case my wife calls), and my computer center-stage I prepare to write. Dave Matthews sings about some American Baby and my mental groove is set. Let the stories begin.

My eyes wander to my left. The looser of the chase sits sullen in that large, leather chair. His 20-pound Dell bobs up and down rhythmically on his Polo'd shirt belly. He can't focus. He can't type. He has no place to sit his drink and his knees are aching to scratch his chin, they're so close. His hair is reminiscent of that old poster from the '60's, the one with John, George, Paul, and the other guy all wearing black suits and standing in an English street. Bowl cuts must have been the fad back then. I look at the looser of my recent, non-televised Amazing Race and begin to feel sorry for him. "He should have been faster, smarter, stronger." I say to myself.

My laptop screen in white, as white as the plastic cover advertising it's sought after brand.

My eyes are caught once again. It's the commuting community college kid wearing a black tee with silver writing on his chest stating, "zero." At first glance, his white ear buds tucked into his large, round ears lead all to believe that what is being pumped into his head are downloaded tunes from his iPod. This is not the case. He, the man sitting in front of me, is a complex riddle of assumptions. I can see his screen and notice little boxes scattered throughout his desktop. As confusing as he is to me, he is very popular with others. And in each little box he types feverishly, conversations with possibly people from around the world, or just across the cafe.

Back to my screen. Nothing. I don't even have any friends to fill my screen up with little chat boxes. I sip from my disappearing Chai and Sheryl Crow strums her acoustic as she wails about every time she hears the rolling thunder.

Again, mine eyes are distracted. This time it's the red-capped lesbian sitting in the adjacent corner looking at all the girls as they pass. Mr. Zero and Ms. Red Cap scan the room simultaneously, both locking onto the same targets -the girl with the red bandana on her head, the girl crouched over a table with her bosom hanging out, and the black-smocked apron girls gallivanting about the cafe. Another Amazing Race is about to begin.

Back to the screen. Nothing. Miles Davis croons on his horn as Herbie Hancock tickles the ivories. Impromptu jazz at its best. My mind wanders up and down as the walking bass line hypnotizes me into another lull. I shake it off like a punch from George Foreman and steady my mind. It is time to write.

The sun is now setting behind the blue and white mountain tops to the west. The air is clean and my chai is gone. I came her to relax and have been distracted at every attempt to tap on my keyboard. Ray Charles is now singing the blues. I have lost all motivation to write. I want to be an old, blind, bluesman.

I close the lid to my laptop and shake the beads of water off the bottom of my clear plastic cup. My Blackberry is tucked back into the front right pocket of my cargo pants, the wife never called. I grab my man purse, slyly looking about for other women misusing the same bag for its unintended purposes -a purse. I stand, turn, and slowly walk out from my corner of this passing, frenetic world.

As I exit I turn to make sure I retrieved all my items, it's the OCD in me. And already sitting in my seat, laptop open and drink on the table is the bowl-cut Beatle wanna-be. I nod to him as I exit.

Maybe it wasn't he who lost the race. He is a professional cafe-goer and can confidently sit in that same seat and accomplish his goals. His fingers dance on the keyboard as I exit, my rear once again being slapped uncomfortably as I exit the building.