Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Cafe Snooty"

Recently, after having worked out twice a week at a gym for almost twenty-four years, I abandoned my hopes of my framed portrait ever being hoisted onto the “Wall of Fame” between our former Califohnya governor/slash/bodybuilder and Lou Ferrigno, I surrendered my membership at Gold’s Gym, and I signed up for pilates.

I may discuss pilates at some future date.  Right now, I’m on the fence about it.  Which may well be our next piece of exercise equipment – you lie down on the top of a pointy, picket fence.  It is that “challenging”, as they like to say when you’re going “This hurts!” and they’re saying “You’ll get used to it.”

I needed a post-pilates-workout treat.  So I ask my trainer, “Van”, short for Amahl van Halsema – Dutch not German though with a touch of Teutonic regimentation – if she knew where I can get a good cup of coffee.  “Van” mentions a café down the street, where she had once spotted Madeleine Stowe. 

I know Madeleine Stowe is an actress, but I do not know in what.  Nor do I know why her frequenting a café attests in any way to its quality.  Madeleine Stowe might be a fine actress, but she may have terrible taste is coffee.  The two, are not, in any way I am aware of, related.

But I needed a treat, so I went.  (You might think it was reward enough to know that my recent efforts had substantially strengthened my “core”, but if you do, you and I have different ideas of what constitutes a treat.)

I walk into this coffee shop, and right away, I feel jarringly out of place.  It’s like a club in there, everyone chatting away, and not just at their own tables, but across tables as well.  And they’re all dressed alike: “Gym clothes chic.”  (While I’m wearing a pair of old sweatpants and a t-shirt touting the Michigan City Wolves.)  I will not discuss make-up, except to say that theirs was impeccable, and I wasn’t wearing any.

The line is long, but I’m there, so I wait.  I notice that each order is taking an extended period of time.  Not surprising, as I am aware that there are a lot of ways of ordering coffee.  Especially in a place where, when they pour in the milk, it somehow produces a flower decoration on the top of the coffee. 

Finally, I get to the front, and this guy takes my order.  Early forties.  Head shaved but bearded, an earring and an attitude.  The attitude specifically? 

“How did you get in here?”

I give him my order. 

“One small coffee ‘to go.’  No room for milk.”

“Americano or drip?”


“We have Café Americano and individually dripped servings.”


“Costa Rican or House Blend?”

“I didn’t know they’d be questions.”

“Costa Rican or House Blend?”

“House Blend.”

“For here or ‘to go’?”

“To go.”  (Which if you were listening, I had already told him.  He, apparently hadn’t been listening, the withering condescension possibly blocking up his ears.

I pay my three-fifty, and wait patiently for my order to be filled, though my mind is still… Does that guy know he works in a coffee store!  I consider a cigarette pack sized tin of Chimes Ginger Chews, which I decide to purchase, to my subsequent chagrin, as it takes five minutes and a pair of scissors to extract each individually-encased ginger chew from its wrapper. 

All this time, I am sensing the dismissive aura of “Not you” pervading the “Not me” clientele.  (And its serving personnel.)  I wondered if Madeleine Stowe felt comfortable in there.  Or if she just acted like she did.   

An assistant finally delivers my order – small coffee, no “room” –

In a large porcelain cup.

“I asked for it ‘to go’.”

“You did?  No problem.”

Like it’s a problem to get what I had already twice requested.

I take my coffee –

“The covers are no the counter.”

Apparently for three-fifty, they do no affix the covers, let alone stick in a colorful, plastic stopper to prevent spillage like they do at Al‘s Market in Michigan City –

And I depart the premises.

The question is,

“Do I ever go back?”

Followed quickly by Question Two:

“Is it my choice, or have they deliberately driven me out?”

Followed by a suspicion in the form of a question:

“Is this a ‘Soup Nazi’ situation, where you come back, at least partially, for the abuse?”

A question I rapidly discard, because nobody else was being mistreated but me.

However – and herein lies the conundrum – mimicking the “Soup Nazi” situation,

The coffee – like the “Soup Nazi’s” creations – is sensational! 

I hate to admit it, but those people really know their vanilla lattes.

So what do I do?

Do I go back, risking further humiliation – or, even worse, becoming one of them?  (Like they’d let me.)  Or do I cross Café Snooty off my list, settling for humane treatment but an inferior pick-me-up?

Ambiguity.  It’s why you come here, isn’t it?  And here we are again.

I really hate that place.

But the coffee


Cries to little boy inside the rapidly aging man,

Why can’t I have both?
Tonight marks the first night of the Jewish New Year, a time when we traditionally ask for forgiveness for our transgressions, and forgive those who have transgressed us.  I will begin by forgiving the dismissive coffee employee at Cafe Snooty.  I am aware this by itself will not get my name inscribed in the Book of Life, but I'm doing the best I can.

Happy New Year to all who observe.  And to those who do not, hey, who am I to judge?

1 comment:

Father Time said...

Happy New Year.