Park Slope has fewer coffee places than you might expect; shit, Chapel Hill had FIVE on Franklin Street alone for a while, and its population is about .06% that of Brooklyn. Thus, the few here are furiously well-attended, and one in particular serves the coffee needs of hundreds of high school kids, lesbian hipsters and lactating mothers each day.
As an aside: why didn’t I discover coffee in high school? I might have stayed awake during Mr. Harvey’s calculus class. Also, why did I always think Ben-Gay was for senior citizens? That shit totally works, and would have made the year 2000 so much less pain-free. Tessa and her best friend Jason call that “contempt prior to investigation,” which is how I lived until quite recently.
ANYWAY. So I go to this usual coffee haunt, which is usually staffed by your typical can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this barista with tattoos and hair that took effort. One such guy is locally known as an aging beat poet, and always spiced up the line with loud anecdotes and funny little riffs.
Today, I walked in while he was being fired, and suddenly, he went from being everyone’s favorite cashier to an utter pariah in a matter of seconds. It didn’t help that he freaked out on the whole place, screaming, making mothers grab their kids, but it brought up the interesting point that all social interactions are basically binary equations.
That is, you’re either in our you’re out. There is a line you cross, invisible but obvious, when the “merely eccentric” become “creepy motherfuckers.” In the dating world, it’s the fine line between being persistent and getting a restraining order. And here’s the catch: the ones who shine the brightest, the ones who separate themselves out from the crowd, they’re always the first to go.
Now, I’m never one to defend these people. I hate being made socially uncomfortable SO MUCH that I’d gladly take a bus to Cleveland than being subjected to someone acting out some bullshit in public. On the subway, when someone starts shouting out their busking crap and stopping all conversation, I want to fucking stick a fork in my neck.
But today, as he was in the purgatory between the cashier and the “public space,” about to have the cops called on him (on HIM, the guy who usually CALLS THE SHOTS!), I decided to act like any other New Yorker and proudly ordered my triple soy latté with a large shot of caramel, thank you very much.
He looked me right in the eye, and I looked back, something I rarely do, as if to say, “dude, you gotta know when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em.”
at a Park Slope coffee jernt last summer: Michelle is inside on the tangerine iBook, Tessa is on bench, and I’m taking the picture (reflected by glass)