A new coffee shop opened on 86th Street and like all loyal New Yorkers I defected from my usual place to be the first in line. There was also a free bagel coupon to consider.
It’s not that I like it that much better, they just open at 6 A.M. which for an insomniac like me is big news. They also have decent ‘all you can drink’ coffee so if you don’t mind, kindly do the math.
It’s a big chain therefore the decor is very ‘truck stop’. I half expect to see semis with napping drivers double-parked at the curb.
Today at 6:01 perched in my booth I people watched with as much enthusiasm as one can muster a little past dawn.
There was a pretty Asian mother with her one year old sitting to my left. The baby looked fake till her dad showed up when she came to life as if she was wound up from the back. I didn’t mind her racket really since it was better than the Muzak blasting overhead. I was exceptionally entertained when she hurled her Zweiback across the room landing in a woman’s lap who was not as amused as I was. She was on her computer so this biscuit of mass destruction broke her concentration;
like lighten up sister.
To my right was a man that took so much sugar I thought perhaps he was preparing to bake something right there like on the cable show Top Chef. I know sugar is free but save some for the rest of us buddy.
The staff, who must be trained like seals to smile at all costs, run around in ugly brown polyester uniforms asking you every few minutes if everything is alright. Yes, if only you’d stop asking me that it would be practically perfect. (remember the Muzak)
I watched an old couple meander in looking as if they had just awakened from a coma. The woman was a hair spryer than the man so she parked him in a booth before she got in line. Actually, she still might be on her way there. To sum it up, turtles and snails would have outrun her.
Hey, just telling you who was present.
The woman who got the cracker in her lap kept showing signs of annoyance. She made that sound with her tongue we all know and love. My mother made it whenever someone got in her way. It must be short for ‘excuse me asshole, but you’re bothering me.’
I kept fantasying about all the awful things that could happen to her while she sat there. A hold-up maybe, or her bagel could have had rancid cream cheese giving her the runs.
Did I mention I wasn’t in the best of moods either? Perhaps you’ve already noticed.
Then my negative energy blissfully kicked in.
I watched a water bug make its way down a wall in her direction. For the record, I’m Italian so I don’t squeal on anything, even a bug the size of a Buick. The first time I saw one was the year 1978 in my apartment on 70th Street. I ran to Grand Central like Jesse Owens and took a train home. I had never been more mortified or frightened in my life, but I’m older now so I’m quite valorous around all insects.
Of course I knew Shotzie who just yelled at a baby would not be as magnanimous as I.
I sat and watched like a director who just said action. The bug was great, hit all its marks and didn’t even need make-up.
One – Two – Three…..
Yes, she jumped up and screamed so loud the entire place stopped what they were doing.
First of all this is New York, not Oz so get a grip lady, I don’t care who you are. What offended me most though was what she was wearing. She looked as if Ray Charles dressed her in a plaid shirt and seersucker peddle pushers (no, capris are chic, these should have come with a dozen clams). She reminded me of my father, also guilty of mixing prints, but he was drunk so he had an excuse.
The best part was the baby who couldn’t stop laughing. I imagined her thinking, gotcha back bitch, that bug’s a friend of mine.
She made the biggest thing out of Mr. Creepy Crawler (his stage name) who took off like a shot (what an actor).
“I’m never coming back to this place again,” she told Sequoia the manager. I was so happy to know that anyone dressed like a test pattern will be dining elsewhere from now on.
I then, along with the baby’s father, got up to get more coffee.
We grinned at one another.