Coffee Talk

So I’ve been in this coffee shop all day working. It’s a small place with a big bar/counter where the customers sit. I’ve been here for many hours, and throughout the day, the guy working here has started up conversations with upwards of 15 girls who have come in and sat down at the counter. Each time, he figures out a way to start up the conversation, and then inevitably steers things toward his knowledge of wine, his writing, his time in Europe, or one of his other key selling points. He offers them free samples. He cracks jokes. And by the time they leave, he has figured out how to give them his card or get their number—sometimes he wants to invite them to a writing group, sometimes he wants to introduce them to a friend of his who can help them in their career, sometimes he wants to email them an invite to a big party happening this weekend. For him, this is quite the job he’s found. He’s just a young, single guy, living the dream. Doing his thing. Meeting the ladies. There’s only one problem—

I’m sitting here.

He is incredibly upset that I’m still here. Indeed, I am yet to be treated to a free sample. I’m still awaiting a personal description of the wonderful, delicate Pinot Noir they have in stock this month. There have been no stories of the Alps told in my direction. Nay, it seems that all I’m doing for our friend is making him self-conscious about repeating the same tactic or the same story. He can’t repeat, because I’ll know. I haven’t been looking at him, but he knows I know what’s going on. At one point, he said something to a lovely lady about letting life take him where it may, and I couldn’t help but glance up at him. He quickly glanced at me to see if I was indeed looking at him, we made eye contact, and then we both quickly looked away. In that brief moment of connection, his piercing hatred of me could have cut through 1,000 diamonds.

And though I have finished my work for the day, I am now left feeling that my work is not yet done. No, I have a duty now. I must stay. I can’t let him repeat his stories. It has become my purpose.

So I’m gonna hang out. And write about some things that have been on my mind.

First, and relatedly, on Saturday night I placed a garbage bag over my head, cut holes for my head and arms, taped a big “D” on the front, and went out as a d-bag for Halloween. As I’ve explained before, Halloween is all about being a d-bag, so the costume made a lot of sense.

Now that was all well and good. Except when someone would be like, “Oh, funny! I get it, you’re a d-bag. Nice touch with the shoes.” And I’d be like, “Wait, no. No, those are just my normal shoes.” Or they’d be like, “Oh, good d-bag hair” and I’d be like, “N—no. No, that’s just my normal hair. It’s just the effing bag, okay?” Once is probably enough for that costume.

One funny element of Halloween is all the people who have to work all day in a costume. You’ll go into a store on Halloween and there’ll be 11 staff members, all of them dressed up. Now you know that not all 11 are happy about that. Especially when they’re in a bad mood. Is there anything worse than being in a pissy mood when dressed as Willy Wonka? Nothing is more awkward than a cranky adult dressed in costume.

This year, I witnessed a real treat. I was lugging my 570lb Mac desktop tower all around Manhattan and made one stop at a place called TekServe, a Mac support store. While there, I had the pleasure of seeing a woman dressed as a fairy end up in a quarrel with a customer. He was all like, “You need to give me a refund on my service,” and she was all like, “I’m sorry sir, but as I’ve told you, you are past the 30-day window,” and the whole thing escalated. And the elephant in the room was that this man was arguing with a fairy.

So then the customer insists on talking to the manager, so she calls for Chris, and Chris the goblin walks over and enters the conversation. So this guy is arguing with a fairy and a goblin, and they’re all full adults in the world, and I’m thinking, “For some reason, we’ve all decided that this holiday is a great idea.”

Till next year.

Since I’ve begun writing this post, a live pianist has entered this place with his keyboard and is playing with the keyboard volume at a level at least twice high as it should be in these circumstances. And no one is gonna have the balls to say something. At least he’s playing jazz. Jazz is all about texture and doesn’t have a distinct melody or lyrics and is therefore the easiest music to hear and still be able to focus. At least for me. Luckily, I’m close enough to our friend behind the counter that I can still clearly hear all of his conversations.

Someone let me know when it’s safe to go to again. I went to the site this morning without thinking and gagged when I saw the full-page banner of the heinous Yankee celebration. Next is their poisonous street parade of hate and bigotry. Great timing to move to New York.

Speaking of the street, I saw a dog pooping today and it made me laugh. He looked so unhappy that I was watching him. It’s just a hilarious sight that continues to be funny.

So far, I’ve experienced only two situations with cabs—either there are 7 available cabs passing every minute or there are none for 20 minutes. One or the other. What the hell?

For the first time in 4 years, I live in an apartment with a squirter in the kitchen sink. You know, that thing you pull out next to the faucet and press the handle and the water comes out of it instead of the faucet and you can aim it around. But I’m apparently terribly out of practice. Three times I have inadvertently pressed it on when it’s aimed at me or in the air. And it has taken me an upsettingly long time to figure out what the hell is happening before I unclench my hand and stop the water. It’s a chaotic scene.

Two commercials I don’t get:

1) The Bud Light slogan, “The difference is drinkability.” Really, Bud Light? You have a $30 billion advertising budget, and your team came up with, “The difference is drinkability”? What does that mean? What is drinkability? It’s easier to drink than Miller Light and Coors Light? That’s the big message you want to convey? Are there customers out there who are like, “My main problem with the beer options in my life is that they’re hard to drink.” I really, truly believe that I, alone, without any team, any experience, or any research at my fingertips, could have come up with a much more effective ad campaign than that in 10 minutes. Even something completely boring and unmemorable and uncreative like, “Taste the difference” is more likely to make me want to go to the store and get a case of Bud Light than “The difference is drinkability.”

2) In one of the 300 Cialis commercials that aired during the baseball playoffs, I noticed that the disclaimer at the end went, “Cialis does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.” Wait. What? Are there dudes out there who hear, “We should use protection-- I have HIV” and respond with, “It’s okay, baby, I took a Cialis”?? Even the dumbest dude couldn’t possibly make that linkage in his head, right? It’s like a car salesman warning a customer, “Now sir, remember—the increased horsepower in this vehicle you bought will not protect you in a head-on collision with another car, including an 18-wheeler.” That would make no sense, right?

I’ve discussed my handshake-hug troubles before. Those, of course, are still going strong—but a new wrinkle has further complicated things. So I’ve been going to a lot of hip-hop shows since coming to New York. No, I’m not a fan of hip-hop. But I have a good friend, Jesse Abraham, who is awesome at it, and I’ve been going to see him perform, which is fun. And the thing is, hip-hop dudes do not shake hands. They do the thumb-link with the right hands followed by the left arm man-hug, followed by the elastic-finger right hand pull-away, followed by the right hand fist pound. So clearly I botched it like the first nine times. It was horrible. And when I finally figured out how to do it, I kept forgetting the final step—the fist pound. So I’d do a really good job the whole time and the guy would be like, “Okay, this dude’s not so bad.” And then he’d go for the final pound and there would be nothing there for his fist to pound. And then he’d look at me and I’d be like, “Oh, let’s…let’s get that right!” and hold my fist out, and he’d just shake his head and softly pound my wretched fist. Bad times.

So anyway, I finally have seemed to get it down. I get it right at least three out of four times now.

But a new problem has surfaced—now I’m in the hip-hop handshake habit, and when I shake everyone else’s hand, I’m automatically going for the thumb link now, without thinking about it. Which is also incredibly awkward. I even accidentally went for the thumb link with a 50-year-old the other day. As we linked thumbs and just kind of held our hands still there for a second, we both wished we were elsewhere.

So now I’m gonna still have the normal handshake-hug anxiety that I always do, and to top it off, even if I guess right with the handshake I still might botch it.

An anonymous person posted a link to a site called a few posts ago in the comment section, stating, “It will keep you occupied.”

Well, 700 hours of my life later, I can say A) you were correct, and B) seriously, what the hell?

Like, I have a lot of stuff to do. And now I didn’t do it. Because I kept going farther and farther back and watching all the clips. A real dick move, anonymous.

So yeah, Wimp posts five or so video clips every day. The videos are hit or miss, but the good ones keep you coming back. I’d say out of an average five, one is dumb, two are decent, one is good, and one is excellent. They range from 20-second slapstick clips to 15-minute educational videos. If I just kept it to the five new videos every day, it wouldn’t have been a problem. The problem happens when there’s something I need to do that I really don’t want to do, and I end up on Wimp, and I keep finishing one video and helplessly clicking on the next one down.

Their forte is absurdly cute animal clips. Like this. And this. And this.

And this is cool.

And, um, this.

I’ll leave you with this. I’ve watched it at least 15 times.


Anonymous said...

i shed actual tears of hilarity watching that mambo dog and that guy get down

Anonymous said...

i'm hypnotized by the water drop video. awesomeness.

Ian D Kilpatrick said...

In response to the hand shake thing...

After living in S.D. I've had the urge once in a while to travel the country and study how people ages say 15-30 of all different backgrounds, locations and scenes shook hands. No one warned me I would be sliding my hand across peoples I met in San Diego then giving the pound so for a good month out there I was trying to to the interlocking finger thumb thing you mentioned unsuccessfully then awkwardly leaving them with there fist seeking my fist that wasn't there.

But then I met guys with a basketball background, white and black and we some how had this esp that we knew we were going to do the interlocking and then left arm man hug without any pound. I would see these same basketball guys do the "san diego" way with clearly non-basketball guys and more of the cali surfer guys.

Fascinating to me for such trivial stuff (thats what you're all about though right?) And the way I see it if there's that much going on with this in one little part of San Diego there has got to be a books worth if you traveled the country.

Stevo said...

Thanks Tim,that Mambo dog clip made my day!

Anonymous said...

Your numerous links posted
here shall now be a feature
entitled "Thumb Links".

Ivanka ..'Ivanka helmed'.. Trump's husband ...

Anonymous said...

This made me laugh: "...his piercing hatred of me could have cut through 1,000 diamonds." And I love this analogy: Cialis is to HIV as increased horsepower is to a head-on collision (even with an 18-wheeler...ha). Priceless.

Anonymous said...

Score one for the women...the handshake dilemma is not an issue for us. However, it can get a little awkward when you go to give someone a peck on the cheek and he is heading for your lips.

Anonymous said...

Did you make Winston watch that turtle video ?

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't someone given this guy a book deal?!!

And how weird is it that in a year in which I've read everything from Malcolm Whatzhisname's Outliers to Russell Brand's autobiography, Underneath the Turban is still my favourite piece of writing.

We should start some of campaign really...

p.s no, I'm not his mum.

Anonymous said...

happy birthday, you old, old man!

Anonymous said...

are you living in manhattan or some new york suburb?

Anonymous said...

Wait... the french bulldog never gets flipped. I can't deal with that even a little bit.

Jane said...

why the fuck don't you ever answer comments here?

Anonymous said...

He does sometimes. Just not every question.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least you're still the hottest reality TV Tim Urban.

Oops ...

m said...

This is just exquisite piece of writing that I keep coming back to over and over.

DRP said...