Thursday, September 21, 2006


Why dream big? If you keep your dreams on the smaller side, they might actually have a chance of coming true. Perhaps this is a cynic's philosophy, but bear with me because I have a small ambition and it is to be a "regular" and I think I have a chance at making this happen.

My one true addiction is coffee, and as such I am susceptible to getting it whenever and wherever I can. I've really made an effort to avoid Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts because I'm opposed to being a link in life's little chain gang, but being the addict that I am lately I've slipped and imbibed the 'bucks. Which I'm not so into. So I redoubled my efforts to avoid Starbucks, and in doing so found a great, non-chain, coffee place.

I found it through my foodie-friend Matt. He'd heard of this Italian coffee shop just south of 57th on 6th and we stopped in on a recent rainy Sunday. I didn't try the espresso on this initial visit, but I immediately loved the place because it looked exactly like the coffee shops I remember from my brief trip to Italy seven years ago -- all gleaming tile, stainless steel, and small marble countertops. It didn't hurt that the Italian barista was more than easy on the eyes and also happened to be the proprietor (I'm not into coffee-slingers but I do have a soft spot for international entrepreneurs), and he won my awkward, blushing interest by allowing me to flirt with him. Which I did. Sort of!

That would have been a singular experience, except that I'm recently freelancing near this Italian's coffee shop. So the other morning I revisited the shop accompanied by a vague terror that doing so might seem utterly forward. "I'm here for the coffee!" I told myself. When I walked in the barista didn't seem to remember me, even though I totally remembered him. But I played it cool and ordered an Americano. "For here or to go?" he asked. "Oh, to go!" I said, "I'd love to stay but I can't***, thank you! Maybe some other time!" I probably would have kept talking but some Italian-speaking regulars walked in and for some reason they were able to make small talk with him and not seem as though they required institutional help. I was relieved when he gave me my drink; both because it gave me an activity and also because it was one of the most awesome cups of espresso I have ever had: smooth, but with a little bite. As I stirred in my sugar he said to me, "You were here before, yes?" "Yes!" I said. "Right," he said, "You are the sometimes performer?" "Yes...just sometimes," I said. Flattered that he remembered me I said "You should come to a show!" "Okay," he said, "You keep coming here to remind me, and then maybe I will see a show." Wow. That is a diabolically genius way to get a lady to buy coffee from you on the regular. I just might do it.

***The truth is, I TOTALLY could have stayed for the duration of a coffee. But: I was nervous. And: always leave them wanting more. Or: maybe?

Monday, September 18, 2006


I'm a dry-heaver. What can I say? Ever since birth, if I experience something ocularly, olfactory, aurally, or orally disgusting, I will heave and retch and make the "Ooooo-wat!" sound. And, most often, I will do this in public.

Last week while waiting for the subway at Union Square I found an empty bench. I made a bad choice and decided to sit in the middle of the empty bench, and immediately I was swarmed by two females, about my age, who book-ended me into a bout of almost-claustrophobia. The woman to my left was totally normal, but the woman to my right, though having the appearance of normalcy, was clearly just I'll herewith call her Weirdy. First, Weirdy spilled her ice tea on me as she opened the bottle. I didn't make a big deal about it, and she apologized over the din of her personal CD player (a cheap brand, my first clue that Weirdy was weird. Perhaps my judgment of her is your first clue that I am a snob).

As I sat, my eyes glazed over with the internalization that comes with habitual waiting, I kept having to zone back in because Weirdy wouldn't stop sniffling. "Great," I thought, "I'm sitting next to someone with a cold. Gross!" I then heard a strange sucking sound emanating from Weirdy. I glanced over and saw her INSERTING HER FINGER ENTIRELY UP HER NOSTRIL, REMOVING SAID FINGER, AND USING HER MOUTH TO SLURP UP HER SNOT/MUCOUS/BOOGERS! She did this WITHOUT ANY SHAME OR SELF-CONCIOUSNESS! AND SHE DID IT REPEATEDLY! Weirdy would dig, and dig HARD, pop her finger out, take a passing look at her booger-bounty, and then suck it off like so many dipsticks covered in sugar. I wanted so badly to scream "Don't do that! Stop doing that! That is WRONG!" but instead I just stood up, made my "it smells like shit in here" face, and walked away. And then I thought about it. And then I started dry-heaving on the subway platform. Weirdy had turned ME into the Weirdy, because there I was retching, my eyes watering, only nobody knew why. Except for me. And, I think, Weirdy. So then, realizing the ridiculousness of the situation, I started laughing. At myself. Alone. I had become weirder than the weird girl, laughing to myself after retching to myself. The transference was complete, and Weirdy was the victor.