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I swore this would never be me, ever. I swore to myself that I would never be 'that guy' in the coffee shop, sitting there in his black sweater and jeans with his backpack beside him, sipping quietly on his coffee and listening to music while tapping away on his laptop'alone. Enter my exact actions'well I haven't gotten to the coffee yet, it's too hot, or at least I'm assuming it is, and my laptop isn't a Mac, like the guy's behind me. But aside from that, I am the coffee shop guy! I am the stark and stunning image of a teen trying to find himself amidst his crumbling and chaotic world. I am the media's projection.
I planned tonight, except I was supposed to be here this morning, which is another story entirely, but I planned to come here, to do this. I even threw on my black sweater before leaving to blend in with the crowd. After searching the downtown area for nearly five minutes for a parking spot, I trudge my way into the coffee shop which I had previously selected, accompanied by my laptop. I find myself a table for two, me and myself, then drape my coat across the back of the chair to mark my territory. I walk up the counter and ask for a cup of coffee and am then presented with three options by the hippie-like employee.
'Small? Large? Or bottomless? '
My mind stops. This was not part of my previously envisioned plan. This was not something which I had preselected in the days of prior planning. I was being forced to think on my feet, by myself, without having time to weigh outcomes or possible hiccups in my plans.
'Um'' was my initial reaction, followed by 'Sssssmmm, um'smmaaaalllll.' My response drags out over the course of several seconds rather than a concise syllable as I digest the choices before me. Small: I'm not really sure if I like your coffee all that well, but I'll have enough to sip on, I'll be here for an hour or less. Large: I want some coffee in a bad way, I like your coffee, I'm gonna be here for at least an hour, maybe two. Bottomless: it's gonna be a long night, a very long night, I'm about to embark on some serious cramming/studying and I need coffee! But I'm not here for the coffee, I'm here for myself, here to get away from my house and to force myself to write, the coffee is more of an obligation. However, in all my preparation, in all my mulling and rumination upon my preplanned date with myself, I've forgottn one vital element, my flash drive.
I stop short, this throws my whole plan spinning into a blunder. I was supposed to edit my work which hadn't been edited, transfer the changes on the hard copies to the digital copies, then work on my latest piece and maybe start a new one. This wrecks everything, at least the coffee's good.
Opening a blank document I'm faced with my cursor, blink, blink, blink. I'm not sure where to start. I start to take in the people around me. The guy behind me is the same image as I, the computer, the headphones, the papers. I think he's studying for a class, or it would appear so. Correction, as he leaves his post to relieve himself, I notice a Bible open on the table next to a journal, the same implements I mistook for text book and notes, I respect that.
The table behind him is packed; five or six girls sit crammed around a round piece of wood intended for two, discussing weddings. One wants to go to Greece for her wedding, have a totally decked out ceremony, 'do it right, y'know?' They can't be older than 17 and already they have every step of their wedding planned out. I feel sorry for whomever they end up marrying, simply because every plan you make never turns out quite the way you want it to, never ever. This means that they'll be on top of a mountain when the not-so-lucky guy proposes, but this same level of excitement will mirror itself in a perfect parabola when they realize that they can't have their dream wedding in Greece, that aunt Susie can't bring her toy poodles to walk the rings down the aisle, and that Mr. Right, hates the color maroon and will not have it at his wedding. Conflict doing what it does best: causing tension.
Across the alley from me is a man, or boy, no more than 18. He's like me. Not completely, we have our obvious physical differences. He prefers man purse where I lean towards the backpack option. His coat is thin, and I can tell, just barely fits around his frame, where as I have a bulky coat to hold whatsoever I please. He wears green Converse All Stars, while I sport a pair of Adidas Sambas. But he's writing. He's been here a while, the empty mug and the tall, empty water glass is a testament to that, he's been writing nearly the entire time. I can't tell if the small leather book across the table from him is a Bible or not, maybe he had a devotion previous to my arrival and has been reflecting ever since. He's journaling, maybe writing poetry as well. One page has lines filled to their capacity while the other is filled with doodles and broken stanzas, punctuated by the occasional scratched out word or phrase. Either he's a drummer or can't handle his caffeine; his leg is bouncing going a mile a minute. I have half a mind to go strike up a conversation with him, maybe have a discussion with him about our creative constructions. But I'm not that bold.
The lady in front of me is sitting at a couch, typing on a laptop, I'm guessing recreation. She's well dressed, sophisticated, almost to the point of intimidation, but she's attractive. She has a very serious look about her from her hair, tightly pulled back into a short pony tail behind her, to her thick framed glasses, to her long, tight skirt and hose with a long, black wool coat to boot. Her purse, however, tells a different story. It's the kind of purse that the girls carry who aren't quite preppy enough to have a Gucci or Coach bag slung over their shoulder, but aren't boring enough to carry a cloth satchel or rigid, bland, leather purse. She's drinking water, a healthy choice, with a lemon square to accompany it. Maybe her crave food is lemon squares, she's definitely on her period, though, she the first girl all night who's taken her purse to the bathroom with her; and she's not trying to be cautious by taking her valuables with her, she left her laptop and briefcase sitting on the table in front of her.
Across from the menstruater, sits a crowded table of six. They're not on a date, a triple date; there are four girls and two guys. The guys look like they could be brothers, maybe Indian heritage in their family tree and one looks considerably younger than the other. The younger looks awkward, as if he's tagging along with his brother's friends for a night on the town. The girls have a modern look about them; they're very fashionably dressed, Caucasian. One looks out of place; she's probably only 4'11' while the rest of the girls are well over 5'8'. It's something to laugh about on the inside.
My mug's empty now, the coffee had cooled off long ago and by the final sip was cold, very cold. I must admit I'm not sure where to go now, not in the literal sense, mind you, I'm quite capable of finding my car again. I'm unsure as to what I should be writing about and I can't just go home! I have to outlast someone here! If I leave now, journal boy across from me, Bible guy behind me, and the estrogen table all beat me! I'm a male, everything is a competition.
Earlier today I listened to a well published writer speak. He said that when you're writing, don't write a story on fact, but to base your story on fact and change details to make it more exciting.
'You're writing a story! So make it a story!' he exclaimed. But is this a story? Or is this therapy? Is this just me letting my mind ramble and putting my thoughts in readable form so I can recall my boredom later? If it is a story, what details do I add to make it fascinating? Entrancing? Does a beautiful woman walk through the door, sit at my table and start up a conversation? No, such a situation is far to clich'. Bible guy walks out the door, one down, two to go.
I stand. I'm about to do something I've been wanting to do all week. Walking over to one of the tables across the room I tap a young man on the shoulder who looks like his friends might be a fair fight. He turns in his chair to look at me, his companions staring, eager to see what a stranger could want from their friend. I pull my arm back and bring the side of my fisted hand squarely into his face in a hammer-like motion. He screams as blood gushes from his broken nose. I smile. He crumples to the floor.
His companions leap to their feet upon seeing their comrade disabled before them. My standup game leaves much to be desired while my ground game has vastly improved over months of after school fighting a friend taking Jiu Jitsu. No matter, I feel confident that I can handle myself with two amateur fighters, one being slightly overweight, in a coffee shop. I start with the overweight one to my left. I throw his drink in his face, something unexpected to throw him off balance from the get go. He screams, grabbing his eyes as the hot coffee dowses him. Wielding the porcelain mug by its handle, I swing it fiercely into the temple of the advancing counterpart. The mug breaks as the third victim of the unfortunate table falls to the ground, clutching his head with a short scream. I send my heel into the stomach of the hammer fisted victim lying on the ground in order to discourage any attempts to intervene; this fight's between me and his friends.
Mr. Overweight stands in a blind rage, screaming and barreling into my stomach, sending the two of us to the ground. I'm ecstatic, I didn't think my ground game would be put to use in this outrageous incident. From my back, I wrap my legs around his midsection and squeeze as my ankles lock behind him. It's obvious Mr. Overweight hasn't thought through his actions as I begin to send fists into his face. He rears back, his hands flying feebly to his face in a humorous effort to avert my punches.
Bystanders are frantic. Several have stood and all are calling to stop the fight, but I'm having far too much fun. A man leans over me to attempt to separate me from my bleeding victim. I send a punch straight up from my prone position into his chin; he's out like a light.
Pulling myself up to the head of Mr. Overweight I send a sturdy elbow into the side of his head. He goes limp as he topples over me. As I begin to roll the fat body from my chest I can feel several things, the first of which is multiple female hands grasping at me to deter me from any more violence. The second feeling is that of a foot being blasted into my ribs, I'm assuming it belongs to mug-broken-over-head-guy, and I must admit, it's not the most pleasant feeling in the world. Above all, however, I feel adrenaline. I feel a rush of excitement and furious exhilaration flowing through my arms and legs. I feel the charge of frantic vigor pulsing through the veins of my skull.
The hands brush off like leaves and I'm on my feet again to face Mug Man. Bodies are flooding the space between us, hands pushing on chests as if to discourage the escalating violence. I need to finish my fights quickly. I reach one hand quickly through the sea of bodies, powering my way past the good Samaritans to grab behind Mug Man's neck. Using his neck as leverage, I pull myself toward him, through the army of deterrents, until I have my opening. In one swift motion I bring my knee smashing through his face. I can hear the small bone in his nose fracture. There's blood on my jeans now.
A strong hand yanks me by the neck-collar of my shirt back away from the scene, tossing me to the ground. It's the big guy with long hair and purple shirt who's been working behind the counter all night, I've been wondering when he was going to step in. He's screaming, words I think. Every couple of angry syllables I'm picking up swear words. He's pointing to the door, and I assume he wants me to leave and never come back. I hop to my feet and answer him casually, brushing the dust from my clothes. He's still yelling, along with everyone else in the place, so I make quick work of stuffing my possessions into my backpack. The estrogen table is empty and journal boy's seat stands vacant. I win.
All eyes on me, I make my way back to the front of the store and exit into the cold winter air, calling out 'Thanks for the coffee!' over my shoulder. It's 21ÌŠÌŠ outside; my black sweater is covered in blood as well as my face and jeans, but not my blood. My hair is a mess and I just hospitalized three innocent patrons from a coffee shop. I guess I'm really not the stereotypical coffee shop guy after all.