July 14, 2008

-image-the barista with the book deal, part 1

(Another post from my lonely bulging “drafts” box. Didn’t I recently start a now-languishing crusade to throw out or finish these drafts? I did, didn’t I? Seems like something I would do with totally extreme gusto for about five minutes. This post I just saved from certain death originates from October 16, 2006. I was working at The Beanhouse with all the kooks and malcontents, as you may or may not recall. I mean, I barely recall, so you’re definitely off the hook here. And, oh — I’ve cleverly disguised most of the names of celebrities in this post. Why “most of” and not “all”? Because it just makes sense to me that way. If you can finish the New York Times Saturday Crossword, you MIGHT be able to decipher the disguised names on your own. Maybe. In the end, if it’s still too big a mystery and you simply must know who I’m talking about, you can email me and I will tell you, ‘kay? Also: If any of you email me about this, I will think less of you forever. But please email me if you’re still not sure. Just know that I will think less of you. For eternity. Don’t let that stop you, though, because, you know, who the heck cares what I think?)

Oh, yeah. Here’s the post ………

******************************

She was always sucking up to me. Buttering me up. Which I kinda liked at first. No, not “kinda”; let’s be honest: I completely bought into all her obsequious patter because — I discovered — I’m a weak-willed egomaniac. From Shondra’s first day at The Beanhouse, while I was training her, there was a steady soothing stream of “ooh, you’re so smart,” and “haha, you’re so funny,” and “ooh, what a good idea!” Which was sorta nice, you know? I mean, unless that someone is breaking up with you, who among us would stop someone openly extolling our privately believed greatness? Well, maybe someone afflicted with humility. So not me, basically. And because of my massive, crippling ego, I found myself agreeing with her at every turn. There was nothing she said that wasn’t absolutely pleasant and true, resonating deep in the shallows of my heart: Wow, she gets me. She appreciates me and all I have to give. She’s right, you know. I am smart. I am funny. I am ingenius. Thank God someone around here finally noticed. The best new hire since, well, me. A real keeper. No. No. A jewel.

A mere month later, however, it was unanimously decided by all The Beanhouse crew that Shondra was a pathological liar.

It started small. I mean, I actually thought she was joking when she told me that actress Istina Crapplegate was her very best friend. It just didn’t seem like a match, somehow. And this is where I’ll be racist and prejudiced and a hater, I guess, but I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see this lumbering black lesbian with a blonde buzz cut who also worked at a place up the street that made fruit bouquets and had two grown children being very best friends with sleek, blonde, funny Istina Crapplegate. They just seemed opposites. Like they might not have a lot in common. Still, she seemed quite in earnest about the whole thing.

So naturally, I inquired further.

“Wow. So how did you two meet?”

“At a party.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah.

“Wow.”

I just let it drop. For now. But the next day, I brought up the conversation again. All curious. I mean, who wouldn’t be curious when they hear someone else is very best friends with Istina Crapplegate? Who wouldn’t delve into that just a wee bit further? And who wouldn’t question the Very Best Friend about Istina Crapplegate’s recent artistic achievements? Because what Very Best Friend wouldn’t already know what you — a mere observer of the entertainment world — also just happen to know? And wouldn’t it be fun to discuss your shared knowledge of Ms. Crapplegate’s career? And wouldn’t it be even MORE fun to hear all the juicy tidbits from a person in the deep deep know, especially someone who thinks so highly of you and would probably not hesitate to tell you anything you want to know?

Well, duh. That’s what I thought, too.

“Soo … how often are you in contact with Istina?”

“Oh, all the time. We’re real close.”

“Uh-huh.”

Pause.

“Sooo …. wasn’t she just on Broadway or something?”

“Uhh –”

“Seems like I heard that.”

“Uhh –”

“Yeah. What’s the name of that show she did?”

“Um … well, I don’t know. I know she did a show, though.”

“Oh, yeah, I thought so too.”

I am evil.

Pause.

“Soo … you met at a party, huh?”

“Yep. A party for Noprah Sinfrey. I met Noprah, too.”

“Wow, Noprah? Really?”

“Uh-huh.”

“She helped me get my book deal.”

Eh, there, Peaches?

“Oh. You have a book deal?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s your book about?”

“Oh, well, it’s kind of like a memoir thing. Like about my childhood. Some really intense stuff, you know?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Yeah. She calls me about it all the time.”

“Who does?”

“Noprah.”

“Noprah calls you?”

“Yeah, to check up on me. She wants me to finish it so I can be on her show.”

“Noprah wants you to be on her show to promote your memoir?”

“Uh-huh.”

I found myself suddenly thinking about that James Frey fellow … Noprah sure loved him …

“Wow.”

“Yeah, it’s cool. I’m a really goot writer. Jus’ comes real easy to me.”

I remember how she said goot.

“So it’s not hard for you to write about all that intense stuff?”

“Nope. Not at all.”

“Wow. Well, lemme know when you’re gonna be on Noprah so I can watch.”

“Oh, for sure. I will.”

One way or the other, God help me, I could not wait.

May 8, 2008

-image-idea for urban renewal

A while back we saw one of the old Beanhouse vagrants at a local bus stop. He looked cleaned up, for him, with a whitelike t-shirt and short brown pants. Capris, I guess, for the warm weather. Hobo cabana wear. And — he had a haircut. As we drove past him, MB and I wondered aloud who cuts the homeless people’s hair. After a few moments’ musing, we hit on it — a truly inspired idea for urban renewal and beautification:

What if a bunch of gay stylists went around sedating homeless people and giving them makeovers? You know, a little “Queer Eye for the Hobo Guy.” Or, well, cut the whole sedating part — which, I dunno, could be assault and battery or something — and just wait for them to pass out, which always happens, and go to town on them: Cut their hair, trim their beards, wax those brows, update their wardrobe, etc. It could be a new hit show on Bravo. (Don’t be stealing my idea, Bravo! Copyright me, 2008.)

I mean, come on. Wouldn’t you like to see your city’s homeless people look fly and dope while they’re digging in your dumpsters?

I thought so. My work is done here.

October 1, 2007

-image-boo-bye, b*heme

Our last day of business was Friday. We spent the rest of the weekend moving ALL. THE. STUUUUFFFF.

So.

Basically, I’m tired and grumpy and blank. More about the whole dealio later — when I feel less disjointed.

March 18, 2007

-image-old fart pants

Remember last year, I mentioned this old fart pants from The Beanhouse? Of course not, which I totally understand. Well, after that early run-in with him, I had another one months later, where he was having a hissy fit at one of the baristas for handing him the wrong pastry. “No!! I wanted a blueberry danish, not cherry! Dammit! Dammit!!” Literally, the man went ballistic and the poor barista just stood there, wide-eyed and freaked out. I stepped in because, well, I was in charge at the moment and because, well, I cannot stand this man.

“Sir, you’re not acting like this again,” I said brusquely.

“WHAT?”

“You don’t get to act like this again. Sorry. You have two choices: You can start learning how to be courteous or you can go somewhere else. Acting this way is not one of the options.”

So he grabbed his bag with the blueberry danish and stormed out. I wouldn’t serve him after that. Other people did, but reluctantly.

Fast forward many months … to today.

This same man walked into Boheme. Yep. In he walked, all smiles, with his silly grey pageboy and these gigantic glasses framing his eyes as if each individual eyeball were some great work of art. He just stood there in front of me, simpering, and I barely flicked a glance over him. Up. Down. Away.

“So — are you gonna kick me out?” he said.

I stared at him for a moment. I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe he was even standing there in front of me — in my place — smiling the way he was.

“Yes,” I said. “I will kick you out if you ever present a problem for me or anyone who works for me. It’s different now. This is my place.”

“Well, I’ll be good.”

“We’ll see. You’re on serious probation with me. That’s all I’m gonna say.”

And I walked away while my employee — (haha! that sounds so ridiculous — never say that again, Tracey) — C made his drink.

A little while later, I left for about an hour, just to sit and breathe and eat and not have a breakdown from everything. When I came back, C ran up to me and said, “Know what that guy said to me when he left?”

“Oh, noo. What?”

“He said, ‘I’ll be good as long as she never gives me the wrong pastry like she did last time.'”

Which isn’t quite what happened, but, whatever, it all boils down to …

Booo-bye, old fart pants! You’re gone.

January 2, 2007

-image-more beanhouse papers

I wonder if people ever see me sneaking papers like this into my pockets like some weird pack rat. Oh, well.

Uhm, I really don’t know here …. it’s like some kind of “Grid of Sorrows” or something. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the “Almost No Life” Zone. Although, really, the fact that someone actually drew this out is just killing me, on many levels. The “wow” looks like someone else’s writing to me. Like the person charted out their no-life zone and their companion commented “wow,” maybe? Which isn’t exactly a soothing balm for the hurting soul. I mean, your friend draws all this out for you and you can only scrawl back a flimsy “wow”?

Wow.

Still, I’m almost inspired to chart my own “Grid of Sorrows” for 2006 …. uh, I said “almost.”

nolife4.jpg

December 7, 2006

-image-the airplane

Oh, people!

PEOPLE!!

So I’m at The Beanhouse — of course, because everything unsettling happens there — minding my own damn barista business. Several feet in front of me, using three tables they have pushed together, huddles this group of flighty, twenty-something, first-year law students who have basically moved into The Beanhouse since September, taking advantage of the double-edged sword that is our free wireless. They hijack these tables for their impressive bank of computers, purchase the small cups of coffee they will nurse for the next 6 hours, and then, oh! then, they really get down to work. They blab and blab and blab. They lollygag. They slouch. They watch YouTube. They throw wads of paper at each other. They abandon their laptops for long stretches of time to go … lollygag elsewhere, I guess. But they always come back because, after all, they’re first-year law students and they haven’t gotten to the really important work yet.

Like making paper airplanes.

They’re all kind of annoying, but there’s something endearing and pathetic about their annoyingness. I guess I look on them with big sisterly affection. I mean, I’ve been there, in those shoes, not as a law student, but as a college student, where YOU are the whole world, where study groups are a social event having nothing whatsoever to do with studying, where your behavior is something to make a 9-year-old proud. I remember being that person. Sometimes, I am still that person, but with age comes, blessedly, a wee more self-control. These guys are all probably, oh, mid-twenties or so. Most of them are probably gay, just like 99% of Beanhouse customers and they just laze and flop around, acting like big, ol’ clumsy puppy dogs. Whatever the next impulse is, they do it.

Like making paper airplanes.

So, I’m minding my own damn barista business, as I said, when this little 3×5 card airplane comes swooping down in front of me. I glance up and one of the law students — let’s call him B — is looking at me. Grabbing the plane, I loft it back, laughing kinda absentmindedly, oh, hahaha. Silly boy. Reminds me of my grade school drama students. That kind of thing. Several seconds later, it swoops in front of me again. I’m busy at that moment, but I glance down and notice some very small writing on it this time. I take another quick glance, but with my nearsightedness, it takes several peeks for me to realize just what the darn thing says.

Here is the actual darn thing:

plane2.jpg

Uhm, whhhhhat???

My face instantly gets hot.

And you knnnnow … one thing I really wish I could control about my body is that damn blushing reflex. It shows up and gives a girl grief at the worst possible moments. And, frankly, that’s pretty much its only purpose, as far as I can tell: To out you and make matters worse. It’s not like it protects you from predators or anything, like a turtle’s bony shell or a chameleon’s mutable skin. It just makes you hot and bothered and the butt of comments from various purveyors of the obvious like, “Wow. Your face is riilllllyrillllllly red.”

Really?? You mean, like, this feeling that, like, my entire head is a bonfire means my face is red, too??? I am gobsmacked.

I’m sorry. I utterly disagree with God on this whole red-faced deal.

Okay. Hm. Where was I? As an aside here, it might be useful to know I drank sangria last night and I’ve never had sangria before and now it seems that I probably shouldn’t drink sangria. Just generally. I’m very fuzzy today. To prove my point, when I first typed “fuzzy today,” it came out “guzzy todday.”

Anyhoo …

Back to the airplane and my raging facial conflagration.

My face is burning, we’ve established, and while I’m moving about, doing my job, I feel frozen by the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing. I am totally silent. I DO NOT KNOW what to say. He is slouched there with all his friends, head down now. My mind is swirling:

Is he kidding? He must be kidding. First of all, I’m married. He knows I’m married, right? I mean, MB is here all the time. He must have seen him. Right?? Second, dude, you’re like, 25. You seem like a kid to me. Do you think I’m in your age group? Okay. I look younger than my age, but not THAT young. Okay. This is now seriously weird because neither of us is saying ANYTHING. Gah. Third ….. dude, you actually decided — as an adult now — to throw a girl a paper airplane with “yes” and “no” boxes to ask her out on a date??? What — are you 12?? Fourth, did u really write “u”?? FIFTH, uhm, aren’t you GAAAAY??

I’m a robot now, doing my job. He’s a robot now, pretending to study. I am talking with people and have no idea what I’m saying. I can see him out of the corner of my eye, pointedly NOT looking at me. There’s now a strange electric current named “horrible” connecting us together.

Look. I am not in junior high. I am an adult. Mostly. I am NOT putting a checkmark in the “no” box and swooping a paper airplane back to where you’re sitting with your friends. If you’re actually serious, I think that would be humiliating to you. I mean, it’s not like you could shrug it off and pretend that that isn’t a paper airplane swooping towards you, right? A paper airplane heartlessly checkmarked “no.” Your friends have clearly witnessed the whole hideous hoopla and, I assume, would want to know what your little airplane said.

And if you’re joking, well, may I speak for all women here for a moment? Women generally don’t like it when you pretend to ask them out, when you do it as a joke. Women might actually think it’s a little hurtful to be the butt of some romantic dare or caper or hijinks. So, dude, if you aren’t serious and I swoop the “no” airplane back to you while you laugh and laugh because I took you seriously, that would be a little humiliating to me.

So I do …. nothing.

Moments later, a co-worker meanders by. Before I have a chance to stop him, he reads the airplane and chuckles, saying rather loudly, “So Tracey, are you gonna go out with B?”

Here comes that burning ….

Co-worker stares at me. B’s friends giggle. This is now officially the dumbest thing ever — and how, exactly, did I end up involved when I’d been carefully minding my own business? Knee-jerk, I decide B is kidding, and so I reply, rather loudly — but with a smile and my can’t-miss “good humor”:

“Oh ….. well, I’m sure that B knows I’m married.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see him slouch even lower. Did his cheeks just redden? Ah, my can’t-miss good humor working its magic again. He lingers for another hour or so and then slinks out the other door. He usually says a big goodbye. He leaves without a word.

Ugh. Ugh. UGH.

Oh, dude! What am I supposed to do now??

November 27, 2006

-image-beanhouse lost and found

Found in a Ralphs grocery bag the other day out on the rainy patio:

Item 1.

Uhm …

Item 2.

Do they go together … er, something? Are they Christmas gifts for a friend? For grandpa? For little Stevie’s teacher? So far, no one has come forward to claim his creepy lost items, because let’s face it, what would he say?? WHAT??

And now, sometimes, one of my coworkers squeezes the bag under the counter to make Rummy talk and the whole thing is, uhm, truly disturbing. Tis the season to be jolly, dudes, not to imagine your private personal activities involving talking dolls of the executive branch.

I am ooged out.

November 1, 2006

-image-halloweenish

— We dressed up for Halloween at the Beanhouse. I was a beatnik, with a black wig, black beret, black turtleneck, the heavily disassociated glasses.

(You’re a what? A beatnik. A what? A beatnik. WHAT?? Sigh … um, all right … I’m Cher with boobs. Oh, okay.)

— One of the guys came as — well, it’s hard to describe. He wore a calf-length short-sleeved dress. It was loose, shapeless, had a dark, floral pattern. His normally bald head was now covered by some Cruella DeVil fright wig, teased and frizzled and teased some more. A neon green sash served as a headband, circling this frowsy black-white hair cloud. Oh, and he had perky little breasts. Perky little navel orange breasts shoved inside a bra — which he tugged at incessantly. How do you wear these things? I can’t stand it! It itches! OW! It’s pulling on my chest hair! Then sometimes, his navel orange breasts would seem to fall out of their separate cups and line up, neatly touching each other, like billiard balls in the pocket. So he’d freak out all over again. Dammit! THEY KEEP MOVING AROUND! ARGGGHHH!

“Um, hon? What are you supposed to be?”

Tug. Smush. Grunt. I am dying watching him.

“I’m Macy Gray from beyond the grave! DAMmit!!”

“Oh.”

I look at the dark hair peeking out from his floral neckline AND his floral hemline.

“Well, hm, Macy needs a wax.”

“Actually, I saw her once in concert. She looks just like this.”

“She looks beyond the grave already?”

“Yup.”

“Wow. That sucks.”

His navel oranges are misbehaving again. He claws at his breasts frantically. Turns to walk away, trips in his heels. He’s a mess. He rights himself, starts singing:

Try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble ….

We are both howling with laughter.

— Later on, I invented a game I dubbed “Costume … or Bum?” It was a huge hit and I’m in talks with Milton Bradley now … so back off, ya stealers!!

— A house up the street from us — a purple and lilac Painted Lady — did a whole Bates Motel thing. People gathered in front to watch the silohuette projection of Norman Bates with a raised knife, about to strike. Then it would quickly switch to a reverse projection of Bates just standing there, looking out the window, head bowed, eyes up, all creepy. And up on the second floor balcony, rocking in her chair, was “Mother.” She’d rock and rock, then suddenly swivel her horrible skeleton face toward the crowd. I think the whole thing was mechanically operated, but, still, it totally FREAKED me out.

— The house next door to the Bates Motel had a huge Dementor billowing in the front yard and I cannot get past it. A freaking Dementor, people! I think I have to go back and egg that house for giving me nightmares. Kids seemed to love it, but I am now a quivering mass. Thanks, neighborinos!

— Oh, and elsewhere in my world ….. Piper was “so escited” because she was going to wear the neon pink Marilyn Monroe wig with the neon pink heart glasses she got for her birthday. She is obsessed with that get-up. I must get the full Halloween update!

October 12, 2006

-image-it

He is bald. Has a beer belly. Wears a red wife-beater T-shirt. His chest hair is ropy and tangled. His back hair is ropy and tangled. The wife beater T-shirt doesn’t actually fit, but rests loosely atop this tangle. He’s a giant Brillo pad draped in cotton. And right now, he’s at the condiment stand, muttering to himself, having a half-and-half emergency. From my perch at the bar, I see this — this wiry, mumbly dairy product crisis. I don’t have a drink up, so I amble over to assist. I am at his side, inches from his side. He turns towards me. And as his body turns towards me, with the tangles and the ropes, the T-shirt loosely shifts the other way.

“Oh, hey — can I help — oh –“

I just stop like that, mid-sentence, mid-thought, mid-everything. Because I am now eye to eye with IT. And I mean, eye to EYE with IT. His giant, naked nipple. His totally proactive nipple. His extremely cab-forward nipple. And for the briefest moment, I am speaking to IT. Because — oh, sweet Lord — it is right there. In my face. Having slipped the lazy bonds of that absurd and pointless T-shirt. It is watching me, I swear, this fleshy, prying eyeball. Maybe reading my thoughts. I am suddenly self-conscious. He, on the other hand, is not. Not at ALL. He is utterly nonchalant that his nipple is a huge sentient wine cork that watches people and reads their thoughts. I am officially freaked. I make my mind a blank and fumble my way through his dairy crisis.

“Oh, haha. Look. The lid was in the wrong position. All right. Thereyougo!”

Quickly, I turn to scurry back to the bar. And I still feel it. Watching me. Reading my thoughts. I scurry a little faster, hide behind the espresso machine, pull myself a double shot, and pray for IT to leave.

October 2, 2006

-image-testosterone rally

I am in the middle of performing a vital Beanhouse function on the computer, when an old guy in a baseball cap strides up and barks his order at me. No greeting, just barking. In a bizarre hybrid accent that sounds simultaneously British and Southern and FAKE. He spreads his arms wide, plants his hands on the counter and really leans into it, this sad, strutty pose of his. He doesn’t look at me, just holds his little pose, thrumming his fingers all the while.

Look, dude. I can see the wiry puffs of hair sprouting from under that dirty cap of yours. I understand your hormones are attempting to stage some kind of Old Man Testosterone Rally, but I ain’t buying it. Please spare me.

Now, I can’t stop what I’m doing mid-function, because it’s vital, remember, but I did hear his barky demands and start to repeat them. Because I’m alls about the customer service, you know. In the middle of my repetition, Testosterone Rally interrupts me, angry and sighing and loudly spitting his words:

“I WAANNNT: A DOUBLE. DECAF. LATTE. ANNNND. A LARGE. EARL GREY. TEA. DO YOU. UNDER. STAND MY. ENGLISH. ….. (he stops to glance at my name tag) …. TRACEY????”

I stand there in the giant sucking void left by his words. A frightened co-worker skitters away; out of the corner of my eye, I see him skitter. I’m shaking, but it is not fear. Luckily, there is no one in line behind Testosterone Rally. It is him and me. And I am glaring, blazing. I can feel it. I don’t know what I look like in this moment, but I feel as if The Stink Eye and The Skunk Eye and The Evil Eye have all converged onto my features at once. My eyes and mouth and jaw all tighten and narrow, morphing into God knows what. But I do know it’s not pretty. And I do know it’s not “nice.” And I do know it’s not the face of “great customer service.”

Testosterone Rally still has not looked at me, not once. Glancing up to catch my name is the closest he’s come to even acknowledging me as a human being. Which is fine with me right now — in these fiery seconds when I become someone ELSE. I turn away from him to get his tea, turn back and say, in a bizarre hybrid accent that sounds simultaneously British and Southern and FAKE:

“YESSS, I. UNDER. STAND YOUR. ENGLISH. SIRRR.”

I set his tea down on the counter a little too hard. Hot drops fly out of it. He STILL does not look at me. He STILL stands there in his little pose.

I speak again, more quietly.

“I had to repeat what you said, sir. I have a hearing problem.”

It’s a lie. A blatant lie. With a purpose.

There is a long pause. Finally, he mutters, “Ohhhh …. uh … I’msorrytohearthat ….”

He grabs his tea, shuffles away, without ever having looked at me.

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