Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Adventures at Starbucks

The weirdos are supposed to be at Dunkin' Donuts. The creepy old man in his blue truck who always stared at me before I bought my 4:45 a.m. iced coffee. Or the other old creepy man sitting on a chair outside the Dunkin' Donuts, slumped over, mouth hanging open and looking like he just overdosed on pills.

I expect that at the Dunk. Not at Starbucks.

Sure, you have your screenwriters, your professionals reading the New York Times, your random musicians. However, recent experiences may require that I carry a weapon or camera so as to protect myself or capture for myself some very strange moments and people. Let's go down the list.

  1. I walked past a woman getting out of an orange car on my way to Starbucks to finish reading my 700-page Lyndon Johnson biography. Didn't think anything of her until I saw her reflection in the black glass of a nearby store. She had no shirt on, just a bra. I couldn't help myself so I shot a very conspicuous look back at her to find this woman, probably in her 30's, with short blond hair, in the process of putting on a dress. Right in a parking lot. At 5:30 p.m. People everywhere. To top it off, she gave me a little snarl, as if to say, "How dare you!" Hey, I'm not the one who mistook a parking lot for the fitting room at Filene's Basement. I did not deserve that look. Not at all.

  2. In the corner of said Starbucks sat a mysterious woman who had unfurled several manila envelops on the table. Nothing out of of the ordinary there, until on further inspection, she reminded me of a towering figure from my past - Mrs. Tanner, the feared 12th grade English teacher at Cranston High School East. Imagine the stern headmaster in any British movie and you get a fair picture of her. This lady had the same face, same protruding chin, same cold eyes, same glasses perched at the edge of her nose and even the same hair style, except Starbucks Tanner had maroonish hair, not black like Cranston Tanner. This poor lady must have wondered why this lanky kid in a Serra Padres shirt was looking at her in abject fear.

  3. A few days ago I was working on my computer, minding my own business and trying to listen to my iTunes. To my dismay, my headphones were broke. I mention this because a first date was going on right next to me and I couldn't help but hear the whole thing. I've well entered my bitter, angry man phase, so this interaction pissed me off. Having to listen to some chirpy couple exchanging annoying small talk in annoying voices really .... annoyed me. The guy regaled the woman about his job as a hypnotist. Yes, a hypnotist. And he was so gosh darn happy about it. The woman spoke in a throaty, high-pitched tone that scaled at my eardrums. They were happy and cheerful and flirty. Grumpy old Sears shot them dirty looks all afternoon. (Really, a hypnotist? He told a story how he learned of his "talents" at a summer camp when he was 12. Shut up.)

  4. Another day, another couple, just not as bothersome. The woman was very beautiful, some kind of foreign. I couldn't tell though. And the guy had a British accent and he was kind of a jerk to her the whole time. They argued about something, and he was winning. I didn't get the particulars since my headphones were actually working this time. But they aren't the crux of this vignette. A hippy-looking kid with floppy brown hair and Rivers Cuomo glasses walked right up to me and asked, "Do you know how to hack into the FBI database in this Starbucks?" I said, "What?" And he repeated his question even louder. The woman next to me shot me a nervous look and I told the kid, "I have no idea." He shrugged and walked back to his friends. I told the couple next to me, "And if I did know I certainly wouldn't tell him." They smiled, but did not laugh as uproariously as I had intended. An elderly man sitting by himself in the corner then shouted to me, "Just a stupid kid. A really stupid kid." He shook his head in disgust and continued reading his book. I will be that man in about 30 years.

  5. Once again, trying to read my LBJ biography and a man dressed like one of the green men at the Canucks games walked in, except his getup was blue. It's been so strange at Starbucks for me recently I didn't bat an eye and kept reading, completely ignoring his prancing around.

Strange enough for you? Some of you could be disappointed that I wasn't vomited on or thrown out by a power-hungry home plate umpire. Still, weird people need to stay away from me. Actually, all people need to stay away from me. I really want to be that cranky guy in the corner of your local Starbucks by 2040.

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