|I walk into the café confidently; relaxed but determined-looking enough that no one would doubt that I |
know where I'm going. There are three other groups already inside and a family of three, but I don't mind not
arriving first, as I've been to this particular café alone a few times before. I don't know when it actually opens, but
I'm pleased to know that it opened earlier as I'd hoped and I'm not the first one to arrive; As now I can avoid unpleasantly awkward interactions with the staff had I shown up when no one was there.
One of the larger groups is made up of mostly women, all wearing clip-on tags, as if they're in some kind of camp
but for older teens. While I don't find any of them attractive, I still check to see if beyond the initial
glance they check me out further. I'm wearing a t-shirt from a music concert, and slim-fitting jeans, with
dirty-looking running shoes with the laces tucked in. I feel comfortable about my looks, and while I didn't
shave the night before or even this morning it still should look clean enough not to be a noticeable flaw.
I'm pleased to see that aside from a few looks no one cared about me to take a second look. Straining a bit, no one
seems to be whispering about me either although I could be wrong. I can't think of a reason to think that I'm wrong
so I don't think about it anymore.
I go up and order my food after making sure that I'm at the front of the line. The stupid prick who I thought
was ahead of me nonchalantly waves me forward, and I waste no time. I speak in a pleasant tone, taking extra care to not sound too firm but also to display decisiveness. I know what I want. I take my numbered card and go sit down at my usual spot. I remove my book from my bag and begin reading.
I know I'm not enjoying the book, as it's taken me several disjointed periods of reading to get to where I am.
After one minute of trying to focus, I instead go to queue up the music I want to listen to. I put on the new
Dom and JD Beck album, something I've been looking forward to listening to for several days at this café after
hearing a single off of the album. My earbuds, the True Wireless 3s, compare much more favorably to the Airpods Pro but have an overall more generalized music experience losing out in specific areas to other earbuds. Or so the
reviews I've read say. My only problem is that I read the True Wireless 4s were being released after I had spent
a small fortune on them. However, none of this matters in the end as my hair, which I've grown out a bit and am quite proud of, covers them up while they're in my ears. This also doesn't matter as the case is much fancier than other brands, and people have noticed that more than the actual earbuds.
But I'm also struggling to listen to the music, as jazz isn't something I'm an avid consumer of, and I find myself
between my book and the music often. I also am adjusting my posture quite a bit. I don't want to look like I'm
slouching. However, when I try to assume a more laid-back position I can't get comfortable. The optics of switching my position constantly doesn't fail to bother me either. The sun is also annoying me a bit, as the sunlight streaming through the window is making me sweat a little in my jeans which isn't comfortable. All in all, it's become rather frustrating but I make an effort to enjoy myself again.
The people at the counter have been standing there for a while and I take notice of the number of tattoos on one
of the women. The man next to her is also a bit fat, and wearing an oversized shirt, which quickly becomes unpleasant to look at so I return my gaze down in front of me. I begin to think about how long it's been since I ordered, and how I'd like to still have some of my drink left when my food arrives, preferably cooler than it is right now as the sun is also hitting it on the table. Then the server arrives, takes my card, and places my plate on the table.
I take a long look at the bagel, taking careful observations of how my cream cheese has been done, but not so long
that others notice. At a previous café, I had asked for a plain bagel with cream cheese, and the result had so
much cream cheese in the middle that about a serving(For a "serving" I envision one of the cream cheese cups
that you peel the lid off of) was squeezed out from the sides whenever I took a bite. Having remembered that
unpleasantness around when I first sat down, I mentally kicked myself for forgetting to ask for the cream cheese
on the side. However, the cream cheese on here is seemingly fine. Usually, I only spread a thin layer over the
whole thing before I consider it ready to eat, but instead, it's spread thinly on the outside and a bit thicker
on the inside. Not thick enough to be concerning, and I find myself in awe that they've prepared it as nicely
as they have. I wonder if they've noticed how I spread it and took that into consideration when making it. But
now I come back to my senses and recognize that that means that the action of spreading the cream cheese on the
bagel is no longer part of my routine. Now I have to start eating it sooner than I would've liked because I
can't leave perfectly good food sitting there. I wonder if they'll notice if I ask for it on the side again
when I revisit and think I've taken offense to how they spread it, but a new problem emerges.
Between my book, which I'm not willing to put down because I don't want to eat too fast, and the food which is just
oily enough that I can't let my book near it, and which I'm also not willing to ignore because it's perfectly good
food, my hands are a bit full. My drink which is considerably warmer now also needs attention. Overall, my unpleasant experience is on a tighter schedule, which makes it more unpleasant. (I realize later on but
this has caused me to crease the cover of the book I'm reading because of how I'm forced to hold it which infuriates
me, as I like the cover art and don't want to damage it) Although I have no knowledge of how it works I also question
if I can proceed at the leisurely pace I'm aiming for without the cream cheese on my bagel becoming gross due to the sun. My legs are getting extremely warm by now which doesn't help. The music is only contributing to the overwhelmed feeling I'm experiencing.
Suddenly, one of the more attractive employees comes over to put away some of the bottles in the fridge next to me where the customers can grab drinks to have rung up at the counter. I take care to have all of my attention on both
her and appear nonchalant- as if I'm not acutely aware of her every movement next to me. She drops one of the bottles onto the floor and I briefly lose my composure. It's plastic so it didn't break, and nothing spilled.
Should I pick it up for her? She might appreciate it. But what if she thinks I'm into her and or thinks
I'm pathetic. I don't need nor want her to tell me she has a boyfriend. But if I stay still and act like I didn't
notice she might think I'm stupid, or just an asshole. I'm not an incel, I just know that I should choose to either do or not do something. There are potential cons to either course of action and in my split second of indecision,
I've done something incomparably bad compared to either one. My book is closed, and my hand has drifted over near the edge of the table. It's painfully obvious I've noticed the mistake but have decided not to act, or I'm indecisive. The second goes by and she picks up the drink, puts it away, and leaves without saying
a word. Not that I expected her to say anything. I don't even look up.
What's wrong with me? It's disgusting. It's unbearable. I want to vomit. I want to undo my mistake. The heat from the sun is now unbearable and I'm itchy all over. There's nothing left for me here anymore. I finish my food and leave.
I have to use the bathroom, but not so badly that it crosses my mind to use the one in the café; the one
that would require me to ask for the bathroom key. Walking out, I begin to consider how badly I fucked up.
I'm not coming back for a while.