I was probably a bit delirious-and definitely stoned-when I walked into a popular 24 hour coffee shop and bakery. I brought my laptop in, ordered a hot lemon and ginger tea and a couple of snacks, and went to sit down in a comfortable looking chair. This chair was situated along with another chair opposite a couch, with a coffee table between them. The couch and other chair backed up to a wall… But my chair’s back was to another table in a fairly high traffic area of the shop. As soon as I sat down I wanted to get up and move to the other chair, but I didn’t want to look stupid. I don’t know why I thought it would look stupid, as if someone was going to observe this and lean to their companion and whisper, “Hey. Look at that idiot. She can’t decide which chair she wants to sit in.”
After a minute or two I decide to move, but as I start to get up and go to the other chair some stranger comes to my little corner and asks if anyone is sitting there. “No, go ahead,” I say. He looks relieved and sits down. This man seemed to be about 37 years old, he was probably six feet tall and he had a big beer belly. It made me gag on the inside, which I know sounds mean… But I don’t care, you can’t help what kind of people give you a gag on the inside. It was as disgusting as seeing a raw hot dog… A raw hot dog gut gag. He had a big face and looked like his name was Matt.
Matt had on khaki cargo shorts, some nondescript graphic tee, and boat shoes. His skin was so pale it was almost pink, and he had a bald head. Fuck. I was already irritated at my positioning in the furniture and now I had to sit beside Matt. He plugs his headphones into his laptop, places them upon his wide, round head, and starts to listen to music. I can hear it, too. We all can. His headphones are not plugged all the way into the jack on his laptop and he has no idea. He only knows that he just plugged headphones in and he can now hear the shitty Zero7-meets-Meatloaf bullshit he’s jamming down hard on. A few other people notice but no one says anything. I just try not to look at him.
While I’m ignoring Matt, a couple comes to sit down. They came in after I did and are sitting behind me. I haven’t looked back since they arrived, so I have no idea what they look like. The woman has kicked her leg out a couple of times to switch which leg is crossed over which. The man is definitely a Northerner. Sounds like New Jersey to me but he probably tells people he’s from New York because he… “Basically lived there.”
The man takes a bite out of whatever delicious treat he just bought from the counter. He says through his chewing, “This is chocolate heaven…this is chocolate love.” He starts making mouth noises, he really loves it, “I’m gonna hit the freakin’ wall, it’s so good.”
The woman chimes in, “I wonder if chocolate is a cure for anything?”
The man laughs and kind of snorts before saying, “It’s a cure for everything. It’s a cure for depression. Depressed? Chocolate. Angry? Chocolate. Happy? Chocolate. Injured?…Chocolate.”
I’m imagining that the woman looks at the man with confusion as she says, “Yeah, but, happy isn’t something that needs a cure. It’s, like, not a problem.”
And then I hope he looks her dead in the eyes as he softly replies, “Wanna make your chili really good? Put some chocolate in it.” They start to talk quietly and I can’t hear what they’re saying but I want to turn to look so badly. The server takes away a plate.
“This stuff was so good,” says the woman.
The chocolate guy is doing that thing with his mouth where you tuck your lips in and kind of pop them…you know what I mean? It sounds like a weird tiny wet pop. It’s kind of horrible. It seems like the conversation between him and the girl is drifting into a lull. They begin to discuss her new tattoo idea.
“Do the bottom line of the tattoo saying, ‘There is hope,’ like, right there,” he suggests. I can’t see where he’s pointing.
“I kind of want it like…that,” she shows him.
“The blue part? Don’t put it there, put it here…yeah, here.” They are taking iPhone photos of each other. These two are either good friends or work friends who are about to start dating. He sighs, “I don’t even want to hear it.”
“What?” She sounds confused, “Stop.”
“No, you stop. Open your eyes. Ok, close.”
They start to gather their things and get up to leave. I could see them… Sort of, in the reflection of my screen. I didn’t turn around, instead I quickly clicked into my browser and pretended to be reading a science article about bees swarming Manhattan on the New York Times website. I was reading some tabloid bullshit and had only clicked the Times link accidentally when I thought it would take me to a picture of a family trapped in a Volvo by a giant swarm of bees.
I was picturing kids with their faces pressed against the glass… Terrified. In reality, they were probably recoiling from the windows and trying to make sure bees weren’t getting in through the air vents. I saw a TV movie about killer bees… I think it was called, Killer Bees. It was a long time ago, but I always remember that one boy ran bath water and got in the tub with a scuba mask on and a snorkel to escape the bees. He was ok for a little while but then a bee started to creep it’s way down the snorkel.
Meanwhile, Matt is still listening to music on his laptop. Closing his eyes, leaning his head back and fucking ghosting it on air guitar with only one hand. At first I thought he was doing a fake piano, then I realized it was guitar. I’m sad that the chocolate couple left and I’m annoyed with Matt and I have to pee and I feel weird because I think that Matt may have chosen to sit near me just because he wanted to watch me eat.
This is why I don’t belong in public. I’m the sort who needs to stay home and laugh at the cats. Then I wouldn’t have to deal with what I was now dealing with: pee anxiety. I have to pee and I want to get up and far away from Matt but I’m glued to my chair for at least another three or four minutes until I gather the strength and courage to pack my computer into my bag, walk to my car, and hold my pee until I get home.