I write from what is surely the loudest Starbucks in the world. The life of a writer can be solitary, boring, us existing for most of the day only in our minds, on our paper, the computer screen, perhaps our only words spoken aloud for eight straight hours being, “Large coffee, black.”* That is why so many of us go to coffee shops, simply to be around other humans. We don’t want to talk to them–each other–or even mingle with them, we simply want to be near other living breathing folks to let us know we are not alone, perhaps to have a fleeting exchange of half grins, head nods every so often.
Now, I kinda detest Starbucks coffee–too charred and unflavorful–but I can’t deny that they provide a splendid atmosphere for getting work done in public. Usually.
Not so though at the ‘bucks closet to my house. Yeah, the interior is just like any other: a near-romantic level of dimness perfect for my sensitive squint eyes and oft-hungover brain, nice comfortable wooden chairs and tables, a clean interior, smooth jazz on the overhead Muzak system, and an abundance of space. But the pleasantries stop right there.
[Mind you, this Starbucks is in what Forbes magazine rates as one of the top 100 richest zip codes in America.**]
Firstly, this particular Starbucks is overflowing with UWS housewives–the real Real Housewives of New York City except these bitches are legitimately rich–wheeling around SUV-sized Bugaboo and Stokke strollers that are triple the cost of the computer I currently write on, yenta-ing it up with their friends as they swig frothy caloric coffees and allow their asses to exponentially expand (sure hope they didn’t get roped into a prenuptial). Or, these same housewives’ Jamaican nannies, everyt’ing irie-ing it with fellow babysitters, neither of these parties paying attention to the warbling children sleeping in the luxury beds on wheels, to the crying toddler who just pissed his expensive “organic” diaper connected to their wrist via leash.
There’s the little school girls that don’t seem to ever go to school, Double-Dutching it up loudly in front of this Starbucks’s countless windows, you can’t help but pay attention to them, constantly in your eyeline. They occasionally even entering the coffeeshop to play Hop Scotch–I shit you not–as their faux-gangster boyfriends make clumsy passes at them. Why are just Bat Mitzahed girls in an adult coffee shop?! I didn’t become addicted to the substance til my early twenties. Oh, that’s right, because no one drinks coffee any more, hell, barely serves it even; everyone now drinks what is essentially a milkshake acting under the guise of a coffee drink. That’s why everyone’s so fat. And, I’m the weird one that always gets a look when I only want a large coffee black.
The place is also overrun with bums. No, they don’t hang in the Starbucks or even panhandle inside, but they visit the public bathroom like it’s a goddamn peep show and they hold more quarters than a dormitory laundry machine. I swear, these motherfuckers either masturbate more than can even be imagined or they have the bladders of a college sorority girl that just played five straight games of beer pong using Natty Light. They stink to high holy hell as well, a single file line of them currently snaking through the floor area, culminating inches from my table. A man only wearing what appears to be a burlap sack looking over my shoulder trying to read my screen as I write this fucking word.
Behind me is a door, the “employee’s only” entrance to the back–no clue what goes on in “the back”–that slams with the force of a bank vault every single time an employees goes in there. Which is literally every two minutes or so. They must surely be doing some back room coke. The door is in desperate need of an air break.
The lone male barista just returned from his smoke break with a Subway $5 footlong which he is now inhaling, in my sight and every other customer’s sight, right behind the counter, next to the lemonade machine, the overflowing bed of discolored lettuce cascading out from the poorly sliced Italian loaf and onto the floor.
But that’s OK, because the other male employee is on nonstop mop duty. After much observation I think I’ve figured out his scam. Him casually and slowly mopping all day so that he may never be assigned more taxing work. Admittedly, the floor is always clean enough to eat off of–I haven’t, don’t worry–only problem is this guy is always in the way, especially with his nappy mop head which he has no compunction in tossing its wet, sudsy tendrils right under the table I sit at, dowsing my Nikes in the process. I’ll remember next time to wear my boots that could use a good polishing.
The three other baristas are these fat fucking bitches. They gab non-stop and laugh so much you would think Chris Rock was a co-worker. Not quite. Nothing funny is happening, or being said by them, believe me. I now understand why painfully unfunny Tyler Perry movies are packed to the gills with guffawing crowds and have made him a $100millionaire.***
My head is about to fucking explode. I can’t take it any more. I’ve gotten no work done for at least an hour. I am fuming.
But where else can I write? The McDonald’s next door? I actually like their coffee, but the interior is just so goddamn bright. The overhead fluorescents could grow hydroponic marijuana and the place wreaks of ketchup. Dunkin Donuts? Again, superior coffee to Starbucks but too many Munchkin-poppin’ fatsos hogging the booths. Public library? Ick, don’t get me started. Bums, mega-nerds, old folks, and cheapskates, the dirty stench of decades old paper and people that chronically shit in their pants. Plus, they close at like 4. And I certainly can’t write at home. Too many things to do that are far more interesting than writing: television and Netflix to watch, video games to play, beers to drink, music to dance to, and a dick to jerk off.
The final straw has just occurred, the entire crew now loudly singing along and dancing no less (!) to the song that has just come on the Muzak. Oh, and it ain’t fucking “Build Me Up Buttercup” either. Unbelievable.
Look, if I wanted to try and write while fat, uncoordinated, and ugly employees danced to music, I’d be currently sitting in a booth at motherfucking Johnny Rockets.
That’s it, after I hit “publish,” I’m slamming my laptop shut and heading out for good. I’m gonna go write at a bar down the street. Can’t be more annoying than this.
Wynona’s Big Brown Ale
7.3% ABV from a bomber
My new buddy from the best beer podcast (“brewcast” ahem) around, Should I Drink That?, hooked me up with this beer in a recent trade. I had been reading a lot about the Voodoo Brewery from out of Meadville, PA and was curious to try some of their stuff, none of which makes it to the Tristate area. Here’s their version of a brown ale, a style I generally enjoy but am never that blown away with as it’s usually executed in a most basic way (save DFH Palo Santo Marron of course!) And, indeed, this is a solid, well made brown that I enjoyed drinking quite a bit. Mildly hoppy, a shit load of smooth brown malt with the feintest hints of chocolate. Well crafted, I’d certainly drink it again, but it’s not a beer I’d bend any one’s ear in talking about. Nevertheless, I very much look forward to trying further Voodoo brews, specifically their award-winning stouts.
*I don’t say “venti.”
**For the record, I live in the just two-blocks-away yet different zip. It’s not in the top 100. And I’m certainly not rich.
***Lest you think that was a racist joke, the employees I refer to are a veritable Rainbow Coalition of colors. In fact, most of these loathsome employees are white. Sure, “urban” white, whatever that means, but still “Caucasian” is what these people most definitely check on their law school applications (har har).****
****OK, that was “classist.”*****