Once or twice a week, I like to head down to a local coffee-house which opened early this year, and because I’m not super-cool and popular, I’ll just go by myself and read, or write. They have an extensive menu consisting of almost every beverage known to man, and their prices are just slightly shy of what you’d pay at a Starbucks, but I always order one of two things. If the weather is warmer, and my purse is a little stretched I’ll order a peach ice-tea, but if like now, the weather is freezing outside, and I have a little more money on hand, I’ll go ahead and get myself a regular classic hot-chocolate with marshmallows and cream. They sell food as well, so occasionally I’ll splash out and get myself a jacket potato; I’d like to try some of the exotic pasta dishes they serve, but I’m gluten-free, and I’m not into salads, so if I order food it’s always a cheddar jacket potato.
I don’t have a regular seat, but I do have a system in which I try to find a free seat the closest proximity to my favourite areas in the cafe. First I’ll check the higher tier on the left, because that’s where one of the heaters is located, and the sofa is very comfortable, and its a good distance from any other tables, so you don’t have to listen to other people having strange conversations about neutering their pets, or totalitarian art, or the like. Secondly, I’ll check the far right hand corner past a row of sofas, because it’s also near a heater, and it’s got the only TV they leave the sound on, and on occasions where I’m feeling I should understand the events happening in my country I can look up at the news, and feel content a few more days. It’s in a nook with strange red, rippled glass in it, so I can put my feet up on the sofa. Really, I don’t think there’s a rule against it, but sometimes when I wish to portray myself as more of a rebel, I like to believe any moment a member of staff will come and ask me to please put my feet on the floor, and that I’m doing what one of my work colleagues refers to as ‘handing it to the man’. Failing this, I’ll just take the closest seat to a window, because I’m convinced that one day a fine young man will walk past, and one of those movie moments will happen, where he’ll notice me reading and be instantly captivated by my beauty, come inside and find me the most engaging person he’s ever spoken to, and we’ll fall in love and get married, and live happily ever after.
If I order hot-chotolate I’ll always put chocolate source on the whipped cream, and because I’m reading, and the cream tends to melt quickly I eat the cream with a spoon and use a strew to drink the hot-chocolate so my book doesn’t get covered in my drink. I think the workers have started to notice, because when I went there today I’m sure one of the staff members winked at the counter woman and mimed the word ‘strew-girl’. Truth be told, he could have been talking about a myriad of different things. I could have intercepted an in-joke or a bazaar reference on how a drink should be prepared, or maybe I’m just paranoid enough that he mimed something different and my mind twisted what I saw, but the link between my beverage drinking habits and the frequency of my visits seems too strong to be coincidental. I’m not sure how it makes me feel that I go to a place so often and do the same thing so much that people have not only taken notice, but have also given me a nickname.
On the one hand I’m getting self-conscious because back in high-school I was mocked for anything I did that was off the beaten track, and I wanted to be able to spontaneously become invisible, or find a group of people who also wrote novels, and sat in abandoned classrooms during lunch to cross-stitch and make rockets. However, I acknowledge that I finished school over five years ago, and kids are a lot more unsteady at that age, and now I should be able to do whatever I want and not worry about what other people think. At least that’s what I’m told by teachers, parents, and most movies.
Sometimes I wonder if doing the same thing most days makes me boring, and gives me a lack of things to talk about with others. If I ask friends if they think I’m boring, they’ll tell me that most people my age won’t have lived in a Buddhist centre, or completed a degree in Creative Writing, or not be interested in going out to clubs to engage in booze and unprotected sex, but then I have to ask does that make me individual or weird. Maybe I’m missing out on vital life experiences by going once a day to the same coffee-house to read alone, and not going out late at night to down shots instead. Trouble is I’m not great at decision-making, or significantly altering my personality, so chances are I’ll never know the difference anyway. To make myself feel more secure, if I spot anyone looking at me drinking a hot-drink through a straw, I’ll image they have a strange habit they’re too ashamed to show, like eating with their feet, or having to touch their head five times before opening a door. That way, I’m the same as everyone else, but I’m courageous and life-affirmed, because I’m the only person who can just be themselves and not care.