Humor, Life

THE ADVENTURE OF A CUP OF COFFEE, AND ALL THAT ENTAILS

It’s a harsh reality when you have to adjust your Starbucks order to accommodate your sparse resources. Instead of getting a latte—apparently the Westchester County of drinks—I had to dial it down to just a coffee—the drink of the common people. But maybe it isn’t so bad; I could use a reality check. Lord knows I’m delusional enough as is.

I feel a sense of earthy pride when I tell the barista my order. He doesn’t even have to go to the fancy milk steamer. My order comes straight from the tap (tap?) into a simple, regular cup. I’m an Everyman; a Jim Halpert. I take my coffee simple and my laughs loud. I picture this as my new life: grande hot coffee (soon I’ll skip to just say “medium” because where I’ll be from, we don’t use Italian), red flannel with raggedly-worn cuffs, and a job at the local paper. I’ll have a boxer—no, no, a border collie; something large and fluffy that’ll look good in front of my fireplace. I’ll make friends with the locals, say things like, “Life runs a little slower here,” and put buckets under my leaks because I don’t bother fixing the roof because hey, what does it matter in the end?

As the barista swings around and puts my new life—conveniently $2.45—onto the counter, the girl in front of me, who ordered a pumpkin scone (city folk) and a latte (patrician) grabs the scone from the other barista’s hand and—thinking that my free love java is hers—grabs it and makes like the Olsen twins in New York Minute (fast). I witness the life I could have crumble like a vision board that got caught in the rain.

“Um, that’s mine,” I say a little sharply, a holdover from my present/past life, where I’m a quick-talking city Grinch. Once I get that coffee, I’ll be a molasses-drawling, straight-leg-jean-wearing regular, but that bitch is trying to make a move on my new life, and I won’t stand for that.

“Oh, sorry,” she says with the air of someone who doesn’t care about my hazy Seattle dreams.

Once I got it, I realized I made the mistake of not asking for some room for milk. What can I say? I’m a latte guy. I begin to pour half-and-half—I randomly choose amongst the various dairy products, usually whichever one seems the coolest—before realizes that the amount of room left in the cup will only allow for a “Barely tolerable gray-ish” amount of milk, when I need a “Swaddled in a rich tan hue” amount of milk. With the precision of an Olympic gymnast, I slowly lift the cup to my lips. Mind you, I’m in a public Starbucks, very obviously taking up time at the accoutrements counter.

As the cup nears my lips, my eyes lock onto a friend/general human acquaintance who is 10% cooler than I am and the jolt of fear trilling down my spine causes the cup to lurch against my mouth, reminding me that the milk has done nothing for the scalding lava that lurks under the docile facsimile of coffee. I burn my tongue, flinch wildly, and cause the liquid to splash over the edge, boiling down my fingers and onto the counter.

Defeated, maimed and embarrassed, I try to—quickly as possible—pour small amounts of my coffee into the trash can until I can pour enough half-and-half into it to salvage it. After that, and a heart-achingly large dose of sugar, I replace the cardboard sleeve to disguise my dance with devil.

Trying to appear casual—I’m wearing Adidas for fuck’s sake—I casually pretend to ignore my friend/genial homo sapiens, while obviously knowing that he has moved up precisely 3.2 spots in line. He reaches out and taps me and I do the whole, “Oh didn’t see you there!” routine. I saw him; you saw him. We’re all liars here.

He tells me about his work, his class, his upcoming nap. I’m assuming, actually, because I wasn’t listening and am instead wondering, Did I spill any coffee on my shoe? I can’t look now, that would be too obvious. Ugh, it’s leather. White leather. Brown coffee on white leather. White leather sounds a little porny, like the BDSM sister of Whitesnake. White Snake? I bet it did. I can’t believe it, while going, “Uh-huhh, mhmmm” like Frankenstein’s monster.

He asks me about my day, I give him the truncated version of the truncated version and decide to disclose my little dip into Hades’ hellfire. He laughs, the sound slipping through the neat gap in his teeth. I’m making it sound cute, like “Oh I spilt some coffee. How relatable,” rather than the practically Medea-inflicted pain it actually was (great myth, Medea, if you’re looking for a fun quippy read).

Later, in the class for which I originally procured the coffee (three hours long + a me whose main job this last week has been convincing myself that I have ADD), I notice that the spillage left a mocha-hued tie-dye print all over the cover. So it didn’t matter that I changed the sleeve. The proof was in the pudding.

By the way, I had a fucking burnt tongue for two hours afterward.

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Humor, Life, Things Happening RN

THOUGHTS FROM A COFFEE SHOP, PLUS SOMEONE HOT GOT FAT

Sitting in a coffee shop in the South End, drinking a Spanish latte from a mug big enough to swim in and sloppily picking apart a blueberry/undetermined muffin with my fingers. The mingling of foam and the sharp iron taste from me stress-chewing the inside of my lip.

The hum of machinery and the shrill, almost comically high, voice of a (graduate) student who hasn’t stopped talking for the twenty minutes I’ve been here.

I’m reading Jenny Mollen’s new book, Live Fast, Die Hot, and I can justify reading it because I’m reviewing it for my Media Criticism class and my original pitch of Finding Prince Charming was pushed back for a longer review. The book is amazing, and it’s this perfect blend of anxiety and humor, and it feels real and authentic.

The sky is overcast, but instead of feeling soft and snuggly, the layer of gray clouds trapping the humidity like a bug under glass. I walked from my apartment, forty minutes, and a dark circle of sweat still stains the fabric of my J.Crew rucksack. I can’t remember not being moist—my mom hates that word, but it’s the only one fitting—for these last few weeks. It’s the last vestiges of summer, the gasping breaths, the death rattle. Am I being too melancholic?

I’m in a weird mood, and if this were a book, the weather would operate literarily as a pathetic fallacy—a device where the exterior setting matches the interior mood. I’m conceited enough to actually believe that the weather reflects my mood, but I know that—objectively—it’s actually just a fitting coincidence.

Now the shrill-voiced girl is listing the pros and cons of various dating sites. Coffee Meets Bagel only sets her up with boring guys. However, she went on a string of dates with someone from Coffee Meets Bagel in an attempt to “lower her bar.” He was bougie, she has teen parents (she is so complex). He was a “businessman,” to which she scoffed. I am deep into this girl’s life. Her voice has peaked through the stratosphere and is head-butting into the mesosphere.

I had a not-fight last night (writing on Sunday, so this was Saturday) and I hate that. I’d rather have a fight where it’s explosive and loud and every bad feeling is drained out like a lance, but this was a bump rather than a bang, so you’re left wondering where the soft barriers of the fight end.

It’s super predictable and clichéd, but walking back from the party—liquid-legged—certain things become clear and it’s annoying. Like, all the pretenses are stripped away and your thoughts are cleared up and in the morning it’s a lot easier to rationalize and compartmentalize and store thoughts away. What am I saying? I don’t know. I do, but I don’t.

I’m sitting next to what I think/hope is a date. I think it’s a date because it’s two very cool, very smart people and I hope it’s a date because they seem to have a genuine connection and I just want them to get married/become partners and just do a bunch of cool things. Usually when I’m around dates or couples, it annoys the living shit out of me. But when I see people with a genuine, non-Instagrammy connection, it inspires and enlivens me.

How do you just start hanging out with people? I wish that there wasn’t that innate pressure when you’re hanging out with someone. When I’m with friends, it’s easy and light and freeing to just get coffee or walk and talk or not talk. But when there’s that tinge of something more, that slight tension in the air like the promise of a thunderstorm, I freeze up. How do we get rid of that pressure? And I’m saying “we” because, you guys, idk what to do!! I want to hang with people but not have any of the pressure or the implications or the history or the charge. I want it to be chargeless and just in-the-moment-y.

I have to eventually leave this coffee shop and explore the South End because it’s my beat, but as long as I stay in here, I can avoid my responsibilities and feelings of inadequacies as a journalist. Aka, just forward my mail (aka Amazon purchases) to my new address @ 69 Hiding From My Responsibilities Lane, Boston MA.

A few hours go by. I sweat more. I change my shirt three times.

I’m walking to Whole Foods to say that I’m going to buy bread for my soup (it was an organic tomato bisque from Trader Joe’s that I later added marinara sauce too because organic tomato bisque from Trader Joe’s tastes like the U.S. Mint) but really going to buy desserts and then throw in a random bread roll to assuage my fat guilt.

While walking—wait let me back up. I’m wearing flip-flops, an oversized tank top that says “Lifeguard” on it that I stole from my summer camp job, mid-thigh Adidas shorts and a black baseball cap, and (as always) my viciously overinflated confidence)—to Whole Foods, I spot someone who I tangentially knew of a few years ago.

He was in a fraternity that I was rushing (I was depressed and a lunatic, so don’t judge me) and back then he was so hot that it made me want to rub myself in Vaseline and slide down one of those Olympic ski mountains. He had great brows, a great hooked nose. HOWEVER, I saw him a few days ago, and then I saw him on the way to Whole Foods. He’s gotten fat. Not, like, obese, but he’s definitely gained some weight. Seeing that, bringing a hot person more down to my level (he went from a 9 to a 7, and I’m a 7 if you squint), really made up for the grey mood I’d been in all day. Ugh, so nice.

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Celebrity Sunday, Life, pop culture, Rambles

WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING: KYLIE JENNER HAS HER GRIP ON THE THROAT OF POP CULTURE AND NO ONE CAN DO ANYTHING TO STOP IT

Did you miss these? You didn’t care? That’s fine. I didn’t care either. I didn’t even THINK ABOUT IT, DEREK. Just kidding, I thought of you all the time. I wrote you every day for a year. That’s from The Notebook, right? That seems like a lot of work. Also, did you not get the hint when a year went by without a response? Take a hint: either she’s dead, illiterate, or over you.

I ate like complete garbage this weekend, and my body is sorely paying me back for the abuse I’ve put it through. I’ll try to be better, body. Although the other day, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and just thought that my body looked snatched. In a good way; not in a “snatched as in Taken” kind of way.

Anyway, anyway—let’s dive into some good, old-fashioned, Wunderkindof-prime, grade A beef.

WHAT’S HAPPENING RN:

1). Kylie Jenner released her new line of glosses: If you didn’t get that tidbit from her gloss-release video, that’s fine. That video was more confusing than watching an old Italian movie sans subtitles. It basically involves Kylie lounging in a Rolls Royce while three girls—the embodiment of her glosses “Like,” “Literally,” and “So Cute”—serve us some Breaking BadNikita realness.

It’s smart of Kylie to branch out into something other than the Lip Kit, and the release of the glosses prove me right when I predicted that the change of her Instagram name from “lipkitbykylie” to “kyliecosmetics” means that she’s going to be a make-up mogul. If she releases a line of jungle-themed cosmetics, then she might be a make-up Mowgli. Ah? Ah? No? That’s fine.

The addition of “Like,” “Literally,” and “So Cute” up her lipcare products to eleven, and cement her dainty, Cartier Love bracelet grip on the throat of pop culture.

2). Beyoncé released a clothing line called Ivy Park: Everyone is jumping on this athleisure train and Beyoncé is leading as conductor, which would actually be a fitting sequel to “Telephone.” It’s a lot of black and gray and white, with “IVY PARK” branded everywhere—which is…chic, let’s be honest. But is it weird that I’m a tiny bit over it already? Maybe it’s the fact that everywhere we look we have celebrity products—let us all take a moment for Yeezy Season Threezy—but I want to be wowed. I’ll be wowed by the Formation album, but let me know when Beyoncé drops a line of affordable menswear capes.

3). Trump stuck in his foot in his mouth and somehow this time managed to screw up: Donald Trump said, when pushed by MSBNC town hall host Chris Matthews, that women who receive abortions should be punished. This then set off a whirling dervish of statements, reversals, and redactions, which proves that Trump neither has no idea what he’s saying and really doesn’t actually care. I’m glad that people are starting to hold him accountable, and force him to take a stance, rather than allow him to hide behind bluffing, waffling, and running out the clock. I wrote an entire article about it for The Odyssey Online, which I’ll link here when it comes out, because I don’t feel like repeating myself.

4). I started watching The Real O’Neals and Difficult People and both made me only mildly uncomfortable: Because I spent most of this weekend trying to lure people to my apartment—friends, not lovers or strangers—I ended up watching a lot of Hulu. I used to hate Hulu because it’s kind of the fucking worst, but it has some good shows on it. I found The Real O’Neals which is both unrealistic on a Catholic level and on a homosexual level, but it makes me feel slightly better about being a gay from a private Catholic school background, and also slightly worse because why can my skin have been that flawless while I was in high school? Then Difficult People makes me feel both slightly better about being mean to people and infinitely worse about wanting to make people laugh at/like me a profession.

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Source: Giphy

5). Will I ever not read into cute boys following me on Instagram?: Survey says…probably not.

6). I dressed in blacks and grays today, and did a Mary-Kate Olsen mouth: Which is neither a cry for help nor a victory, but somehow both and neither. This weekend I actively tried to be lazy. I succeeded, and somehow that didn’t make me feel better. It didn’t make me feel worse though, so I guess that’s a success.

7). Can I rant for a second: So I was sitting at Pavement, a coffeehouse on campus because sometimes I can’t help but be insufferably stereotypical—I also stare out of windows when it’s raining, so get those stones ready—and my laptop was dying because it’s old and the free Internet was about to run out. I stand up, start putting my stuff into my bag and before I could say “Beetlejuice” three times, someone was already standing right next to me.

“Are you leaving?” she asked. “Oh, yeah, I am,” I said, brightly. Then she starts dumping her stuff onto the table, nearly crushing my new J.Crew sunglasses. Now, I can hover with the best of them when it comes to securing coffeehouse tables, but there are rules, as typical to any civilized society. One: don’t move in before I’m ready. Two: don’t mess with my stuff. Three: back off, bitch, you’ll get your table.

I wanted to pinch her so hard, but I needed coffee more, and even though I was in a coffee shop, I walked four minutes away to the nearest Starbucks because my mom gave me a gift card and I’m skint.

8). What is the acceptable amount of time to absent-mindedly stare at someone before it gets weird: I was on the street the other day, and I read a text from a friend who had seen me walking on the street, commented on my outfit, leading me to absently stare around, looking for him. I then realize, when a person started walking toward me, that I had been staring accidentally at an acquaintance and she thought I was non-absently looking at her.

It wasn’t a horrible interaction, but I keep getting caught doing things like this—staring at people accidentally, or smiling at them when I don’t mean to but that small desire to be liked wins out. I thought I had an unlikable face—in fact, I was kind of banking on it—but the world refuses to acknowledge that, and everyone thinks that I want to be their best friend. Truth update: I have one best friend, and her name is Ina Garten and she doesn’t know I exist. There’s no other room in my world for extraneous people. Cue the mantra: “Don’t be extra-nice to extraneous.” In my head, that kind of worked.

*****

I only got mildly misanthropic in this blog post, so it’s a win. But then again, I managed to turn a “what’s happening in the world” post into a “what’s currently wrong in the seventh-grade science fair experiment that is my life” so let’s call today an Even-Stevens.

On a side note, I can’t wait to be 37 and bitter. Being 20 and bitter is exhausting, and—frankly—not great for my skin.

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Essay, Humor

VENTI CARAMEL ICED COFFEE

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 9.45.25 PM“Can I get a venti caramel iced coffee?” I tell the Starbucks cashier. She nods and scribbles my name across a plastic cup the size of a baby crib.

“I’ll pay for it,” he says, pushing his card across the counter. I smile at him.

“Thanks!” Fucker.

We sit down at a small circular table, him fiddling with his car keys and me leaning forward, perched on my elbows.

*****

I’m sitting in the library, books strewn across the table obnoxiously, forcing my tablemates to cramp into the corner of the space. They shoot glares at me, which to me are like Nerf pellets but to them are probably daggers. My phone gives a small, discrete bzzz.

I slide it open and click on the yellow Grindr app, the black mask of the icon like a gay Phantom of the Opera except even less faces and more torsos. A message has popped up from a cute Latino guy with curly hair and a mild-mannered smirk.

“Hey. At first I thought you were looking for a centurion, but then I read it again and I’m mistaken,” he texts. Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 9.44.16 PMI laugh out loud. My profile, a 10/10 picture of me, has the caption, “Looking for centenarians. Anyone born after 1914 need not apply.” The fact that someone A) knew what a centenarian was and B) knew what a centurion was, is enough to make me text back an answer.

His name is Corey, and he goes to a college near mine. He wants to hang out—no sex, just mac n’ cheese—but I’m swamped in finals and migrating back to New York directly after. After a few more minutes, I find out that he’s actually from the adjacent town to mine in New York, so I give him my number.

Eventually, I delete Grindr because having it on my phone always make me feel like I need to shower incessantly. But we begin texting back and forth, at first gingerly, and then more frequently.

Corey is dorky but funny, and works for an engineering company back in our college town but travels back to New York occasionally. He’s two years older than me, a junior to my then freshman. I find out his last name, immediately stalk him on Facebook and find that we have three mutual friends and he’s not Hispanic, but Mayflower white.

Corey keeps asking me out, so after the fourth or so attempt, I accept his offer and we make a plan to meet up when he’s back in New York.

Weeks pass, and I kind of create a boyfriendish allure around him. He’s at the top of my messages, and has sent me enough pictures for me to be relatively sure that he’s not a forty-five year old serial killer looking to make me into a sports coat.

“Do you want to see Maleficent with me?” I ask. Looking back, I don’t know why I keep insisting on bringing dates to children’s movies. I’ve brought a date to see Frozen—pre hype—and that ended about as well as the Hindenburg. Additionally, Maleficent was so subpar and I really would’ve liked to see Angelina Jolie portray a more fleshed-out “villain.”

“Yeah!” he answers, and we make a plan to meet up that night at a public mall.

Hours later, after I’ve planned my outfit but before I’ve prayed to the gods and made my ritual sacrifice, Corey Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 9.46.27 PMsuggests that we buy tickets ahead of time, online. When I point out that it’s unlikely that the movie will be sold out, since it’s been out for two weeks, he insists that we “don’t want to miss out.” Also, he can’t order the tickets because his laptop is broken so can I please order them and he’ll “pay me back with coffee or…other things ;).”

“Coffee is fine,” I text back and order the—per his request—IMAX tickets, knocking me back about forty dollars. I don’t think I would pay this much for a prostitute, much less a date, but the metaphysical check has been cashed and I’ve selected two seats—so basically we’re married—so I can’t back out now.

*****

“You’re tall,” is the first thing out of his mouth when I walk up to him. He’s been leaning against the metal railing.

I have no idea how to respond to this fact. For some reason, because I’m over six feet, people feel the need to point out that I am tall, as if that’s a secret my parents have been hiding from me for 18 years and they’re springing it on me in an Italian restaurant. Being tall is one of those things that people assume is socially acceptable to have an opinion on. No one walks up to someone else and says, “Hmm, I didn’t think you be as ugly as you are,” or “Oh, you’re Jewish? You don’t look Jewish in your pictures.”

I answer with a “Ha, yeah,” mingled with a fake laugh. He is still looking jarred, but manages to pull it together enough to walk with me towards the escalator. We still have a little bit of time before the movie, so we’re going into a Toys “R” Us because apparently going on dates regresses us into middle school.

“I actually turned down a threesome to be here,” Corey says, in what I can only assume is an attempt to break the ice and not an attempt to get me to break his neck.

“Oh,” I say, laughing. Note to reader, I will be uncomfortably laughing throughout this entire date. Brace yourself.

On the list of things that have been said to me that hover in between Flattery and Fuckery, this is right up there next to someone saying that it “wasn’t your looks” that made me single.

I’ve texted out three SOS’s, so this date isn’t going categorically great, so I breathe a sigh of relief when he suggests we go get coffee, which means A) I get coffee B) the movie is nigh and C) I get coffee.

I decide to forgo my usual grande and get a venti, because I’m going to eke everything I can out of this $40 dollar date. The barista gives me the venti iced coffee, which is large but barely even a movie theater small.

*****

We sit down at a small circular table, him fiddling with his car keys and me leaning forward, perched on my elbows.

I’m rambling on. He’s quiet. When people get quiet, I tend to talk more. So I’m all chattering mouth in the silence, chattering teeth from the iced coffee, and gesticulating arms. At this point, the date is basically a dead horse. Not even one you want to beat, just one that was formerly stumbling on weak legs and now has completely given up.

We chat, and he’s perfectly nice, but it’s obvious that I’m carrying the date. And my arms are not that strong.*

*This statement has now become false, as I have been working out and my arms are pretty toned.

“Should we go over to the movie?” I asked brightly, rattling the melting ice around.

*****

The movie is good but not great. Much like myself, Angelina Jolie is visually stunning but seems too skilled for the meager sliver the writers carved out for her. I wanted her to be violently cruel, tantalizing evil, all scorned and scorching.

Times I get up to go to the bathroom: 3

Times our knees knock together: 5

Times I awkwardly crane my head to talk to him: 2

Times he seems about to put his arm around my shoulders: 1

By the end of the movie, I am exhausted from getting up to relieve my bursting bladder, which has been going full steam ahead from the massive amount of coffee I just drank.

We parked in different levels of the same lot, so we walk over together. His car is closer, so I mosey over with him. “I can drive you to your car,” he offers, standing next to his car.

“No that’s fine,” I laugh. He offers again, and I survey him and realize—for the first time—that I would be nervous to be in the car with him, with anyone that I didn’t know, and that makes me squirm.

He leans in and I lean in for a hug. Out of the corner of my eye I see his head swivel and feel a kiss placed awkwardly close to my ear. I pull back from the hug and see him looking expectantly at me.

Oh, fuck.

Our heads careen towards each other as we kiss. It’s all scrape and stubble and the lingering acrid embers of the coffee. What do I do with my hands? I think. I unclench them and swing them halfway towards Corey before swinging them back and keeping them firmly at my sides.

The kiss ends and I smile and say goodbye. I can feel his eyes rolling over my neck as I walk away and I don’t look back until I can hear his engine breathe to life. I wave then, and I can see him waving back through the slant of the windshield.

*****

It’s only later—when I’m recounting the date to my friend—that I realize that I’ve just had my first kiss, my first boy-to-boy kiss.

*****

Corey and I exchange a few texts after our date, but the connection we had via digital communication has fizzled with the reality of our selves. I don’t think about him until eight months later when I accidentally swipe right for him on Tinder while trying to find subjects for a photo essay.

I blindly send him a message detailing my photo essay without looking at who the profile belongs to. A few days later, I’m at dinner with my friends and am alerted to a new Tinder message. My phone gives a small, discrete bzzz.

I slide it open and click on the app’s red flame. It’s one of my potential subjects. I look at the message:

“Um, hi to you too?”

My eyes flash to the name at the top of the page: Corey. I let out a half-shriek-half-laugh. Okay, it was more like three quarters shriek and one quarter laugh.

My friends ask me why I’m gasping. This time, it’s a full laugh, and I tell them all about Corey and the threesome and the hands-clenched kiss and the coffee peeing.

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P.S. Thanks to my dear friend Nina who helped me brainstorm what I should write about for this essay and who accepted the fact that I had texted her solely to shoot down her ideas until I could think of one better with grace and aplomb. Thanks, N. ❤

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