Friday, November 14, 2008

The Bitter End Coffee Shop.

I'm sitting in The Bitter End coffee shop waiting for John W. to fix the heater blower in my car. John dropped me off at Ali's, but they have Good Morning America blaring on the TV, and a bunch of the regulars are yacking it up. Can't read the book I brought with me around a lot of yacking. They were a bunch of older republican types, stressing the "Hussein" in the President Elect's name while complaining about how there will be riots in the streets, and someday everyone is going to "wake up" and realize the "old ways" are the best. Somebody get that man a white sheet and a flammable cross. One guy at least spoke up and said he voted for Obama, a redneck looking older gentleman, which completely ruins stereotypical assumptions I was harboring. One lady was smoking at the counter. The breakfast was reasonable and delicious. I had bacon and eggs and coffee and toast, and I wolfed that down and went across the street The Bitter End coffee house, a more high-falutin' fancy shmancy place to sip "fair-trade" coffee and feel liberal and elite.

There were five patrons here when I arrived but the guy who looked like Michael Stipe (from REM) who was at the table across from mine put on his green knit cap, packed up his backpack, books and laptop, and left.

He might have left because some fat guy in a tie (not sure if he is a Mormon, Marxist or Christian) is counseling (?) this other dude and they haven't learned about inside voices. Guy sounds like a douche bag, but I'm not completely annoyed. Yet. Even though I'm fairly certain he is full of shit.

At the table in the middle sit two young college girls. They are both wearing grey hooded sweatshirts. The tall brunette's sweatshirt has a "3" on it, and the word "Kath". I bet her name is Kathy. The blonde says: "someday we should get coffee and put butterscotch schnapps in it or something."

The Guy In the Tie is talking about Jesus and fairness, and how society cares too much about "fairness". He's an MSU fan. "The church is about stragglers." He just used the word "bedazzled" (BTW: the 2000 movie Bedazzled was better than I expected, and Elizabeth Hurley is smoking hot). I've never actually heard anyone use that word and keep a straight face. His fat absolutely certain face is straight. Conclusion: Douche Bag, First Class.

The college girls are just dishing dirt; even through Guy in Tie's high-volume psychobabble, I can just catch the words "boyfriend" and "she said" from their girls' table.

The guy in the tie talks a great deal about "the group" and about "the job of the house church". I think he might be some small-time charismatic cult leader. "If you want to follow me, this is the way I'm going."

Thankfully he just mentioned having to install something and having to leave within a half hour. He has turned his attention to the laptop and has stopped his yammering.

Guy in The Tie loves Mozilla Firefox.

Now I can hear the girls talking, because the loudmouth is hunching down to the laptop screen, and somehow this has made him find his inside voice.

Some of the girls' conversation: " . . . go out to the parking lot and smoke a cigar . . ." (EXPRESSO MACHINE NOISE) " . . . I'm kind of fine with moving to Colorado . . . (PREACHER GUY YAPPING) " . . . no mechanism in my body to digest meat . . ."

A bald guy in a pressed white shirt and blue paisley tie walks in. Businessman. He sits where Michael Stipe was sitting earlier. He reads USA Today.

Guy in The Tie has a buddy who lives in Columbus.

There are twenty-seven framed pictures on the wall opposite me, several prints of famous artwork.

"I saw him on Monday, he died on Thursday," says Guy in The Tie. "His wife died two years later. Their son, at the age of six, was an orphan."

Guy in The Tie is leaving! Praise Jesus!

But now the music (very soft guitar and female vocal) is playing over hidden speakers and I can't hear the college girls talk. I think the blonde knows I'm eavesdropping. She's glanced over here a couple of times.

As he's leaving, Guy in The Tie glances at the book I am reading. I brought "The Tyranny of Oil" but I haven't had a chance to read it, because I'm writing all this down.

The brunette shows the blonde something on her cell phone screen.

Now the sweatshirt college girls are leaving, not a minute after Guy in The Tie. Now what will I write about?

No one is talking. The tables here have wooden chairs with comfortable green cushions.

It's 10:14. Founders Brewery opens in 45 minutes. Do I head there next to wait? It is within walking distance . . . sort of.

The wall opposite me is divided by wood molding into eight vertical rectangular panels. Here are the pictures mounted on the walls from left to right.

Panel #1: A small Victorian era corset on a headless, armless torso mannequin. Something is written in French in brown stylized type on a crème colored background; picture of black cat captioned "Tournee Chat Noir de Rodolphhe Salis; restaurant scene in pastels with a man seated at a table, feet up on a chair, reading a book. A woman seen from behind in a little black dress is standing before the man's table.

Panel #2: Victorian era women seated across a table in an outdoor café, titled "Confidences"; 1920s café scene, flapper looking shyly down standing next to a man in a tuxedo who is looking at her, captioned "Les Halles 1937, Frank Horvat; black and white sketch of woman walking a poodle; black and white photo of gargoyle facing to the right.

Panel #3: Woman in light blue dress (hemline at the knee) seen from behind looking out at a body of water, shoreline in distance and cloudy sky above; print of Edward Hopper's 1942 painting "Night Hawks" (that night café scene? was redone with Marylyn Monroe, Elvis, Bogart and James Dean).

Panel #4: Street scene around 1900 in pastel, young couple face to face under umbrella, Model Ts parked on street titled "Springtime in Paris"; black and white photo of gargoyle, facing left; plaster sculpture of ear.

Panel #5: M.C. Escher Black and white pencil/charcoal sketch of eye; Poster of seven horses' rear ends in a stable, titled "Board of Directors" by Jenness Cortez; BW photo of passenger plane flying over Manhattan titled "Flying over Manhattan, New York 1946".

Panel #6: BW photograph of two 1920s flappers sitting at a small round table at an outdoor café; color portrait of two dark-haired women in evening dresses at a table indoors. Candelabra with lit red candles, women leaning toward one another across the table, resting their elbows on the white tablecloth. One woman drinks from a wineglass while the other turns to her right, thinking. Titled "Sunday eleven o'clock by Ramon Lombarte; M.C. Escher 1952 print "Puddle", a puddle with water reflecting trees, footprints around puddle; the "periodic table of sweatshirts".

Panel #7: Stylized painting of several 1930s partygoers crammed into an elevator. Short butler in foreground with flutes of champagne on a tray looks on in trepidation; BW sketch portrait of skull smoking a cigarette; M.C. Escher sketch of hands sketching each other from a piece of paper; stylized picture of two women, ostrich feather theme.

And that is a list of all the pictures on the wall opposite my table at the Bitter End coffee shop.

Now there are only three patrons here, all college students studying quietly by themselves: a stack of books, a backpack, and a laptop for each.

John just called. My car is done.

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