I consider myself something of a collector of human interactions. Like any true connoisseur, I cherish each of my collections for its awkwardness or hilarity, or whatever its defining characteristic may be. This might come as a shock to some of the three of you who regularly read this blog, because I am forever blabbing on about how I like my alone time, but I could never be an actual hermit for long.
I just like people too much.
Lately my routines have been thrown into disarray because my favorite coffee shop is undergoing a move. I have had to get my coffee elsewhere. This is unfortunate because I am in love with the girls who make the coffee, and now I’ve had to go out and find new ones.
So, I’ve been stopping by a new coffee shop now and again which I had previously eschewed for reasons I’m not quite able to put a finger on. Something about its whole program just hasn’t sat well with me so far, but these are desperate times, and thus, measures must be taken. It is right here in my neighborhood, and I have snuck behind it once to make out with someone, so it should only embody good vibes for me. I remain nonplussed for some reason.
I walked up to the building to find a seated woman scratching a dog on its neck under its chin. The dog’s face was pointed skyward to allow this, looking quite pleased with himself and the scratching. It seemed to be such a positive tableau of two beings enjoying one another’s company.
“That dog is enjoying that,” I said.
The woman smiled at me, and I thought I must have had this place all wrong. It seemed nice after all.
I went inside, found no line to wait in, and stepped directly to the counter.
There I was greeted by a small, round woman who positively radiated negative energy. She scowled and frowned at the same time, a feat recognized as the mark of a true artisan in the hallowed halls of the Facial Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
She frowled. She scowned. She noticed me.
“Hey,” she said, coughing the word out as though it had previously been tickling her throat.
I placed an order for a latte, and she indicated through a series of frowles and irritated sighs that she required further information regarding the size of said latte. I noticed an array of cups to my immediate left with the sizes printed on the sides. I picked up the one that looked to be capable of containing the amount of coffee that I require, and said “This looks good.”
Frowley said “Put that down!”
Noticing it seemed weighty, I said “Hey, is there sand in here?”
“What do you care? Don’t ask me that. Put it down, I said!”
Now, I like to kid around with people. That’s the only way to get a really interesting interaction out of them, I believe. Sometimes you have to press their buttons a bit, but usually they laugh with me. Frowley wasn’t laughing. In fact, she only got nastier.
I assumed she had to be kidding — who could be that pissy thanks to me wondering about the contents of a display cup? — but a smile never crossed her face, and she yelled at me again to replace the cup. I put it down.
“Now fix it right!” she spat, pointing out that the cups weren’t perfectly lined up.
I made an exaggerated display of perfectly arranging the cups, and she watched me intently to make sure I wasn’t screwing around. I took my hands away, and she relaxed.
“Hang on, this one’s messed up still,” I said, and arranged it slightly. Her shoulders shot up and she watched me intently again until I stopped moving it. Then she relaxed.
“Damn now this one needs a bit,” I began, but she growled in italics “Stop touching the CUPS!”
“I’m not touching the cups,” I said, wiggling my fingers inches above them, and then finally moving away to wait for my latte.
I sat next to a lady and a small child to wait for my coffee, and the child smiled at me. I waved to her, and she grinned and fell over into her mother’s lap, like a little shy faint.
“She does this,” her mom said.
The child righted herself, and smiled at me. I smiled back, and she grinned and fainted again. I laughed.
Her mom said “It seems to work.”
“Heh! It sure does,” I smiled.
I just pray that that sweet kid never lays a finger on Frowley’s cups. Her smile will never be the same.