Monthly Archives: July 2011

Five-Minute Observation: Late-Night Coffee Drinkers

There’s something disheartening about being in a Starbucks when it’s dark outside. I’m not talking about the early morning dark, I’m referring to the 10 p.m. kind of dark. The time when there are only six or seven strange-ish people in the place. I’ve coined this time as the Starbucks witching hour, a time when the odd ones of the world convene for late-night caffeine.

I like coming at this time and making up reasons about why they are drinking coffee so late. Why do they need to stay up? I overwork scenarios in my head. Maybe they are about to rob a bank and need that crack-infused coffee to give them an extra surge of adrenaline. Or perhaps they have insomnia and have been sitting at the Starbucks for three days straight. Did something bad just happen to them? Something good? Probably not. After intense brooding the stories about these late-night coffee drinkers have the potential to become elaborately depressing.

I had conjured up one particularly distressing story about a gaunt older fellow sitting at a big table by himself (I swear not all of my stories are about Starbucks and old people). The man had bloodshot, unblinking eyes that stared blankly through everything in front of him. Looking at him made me hurt. Occasionally he would glance at me, or maybe through me, too, and I’d feign attention to my notebook. I’ll save you the outlandish details of my extensive story because it’s really too strange to repeat for the Internet. Just know that if I wasn’t afraid of being charged with senior citizen molestation I would have gotten up and given him a hug. It was that bad.

Then I heard the door open behind me. A man in his twenties shuffled past me and excitedly dropped a brown package in front of the old man. The young man wasn’t his son, but you could tell the old fellow thought of him as such. The old man’s red eyes softened with excitement and a wide smile overtook his blank expression. He eagerly opened the package and the two drifted away into their own world, a world that revolved around a different axis than the world everyone else was in. It revolved around the coffee they were drinking and the papers they were examining.

Something struck me. The witching hour isn’t a disheartening wrinkle in time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Maybe late-night coffee drinkers aren’t staying awake because they are real-life versions of Christian Bale in “The Machinist.” Maybe they are staying away because they’ll miss out on moments like the one between the old man and the young man if they are sleeping.

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This Fourth of July I Am Thankful For…

Happy Fourth of July, all six people who read this! Before I show America my appreciation via PBR and hamburgers, I’d like to list off Independence Day delights I am thankful for:

1. Imperfectly sculpted mullets and fat arms stamped with eagle tattoos (real ones only). The Fourth of July proudly and successfully brings all mullett-wearing, far arm-bearing Americans together in one small and inevitably foul smelling location. Thankfully, this makes people watching and judging shamelessly convenient. I should note that I’m also thankful for eagle shirts, they are like cotton warning signs.

2. Amateur fireworks. It’s a disturbing sight when an imbecile attempts to insert himself into the center of Fourth of July attention by putting on his own backyard fireworks show. More often than not these folks tend to underestimate the unpredictable nature of the fireworks they secured from an obscure firework warehouse on the side of the interstate. I am thankful that one of these idiots has yet to blow off my head with an explosive device. I am unthankful that no one has tried to piggyback something like a hot dog to a firework, just to see what will happen. I feel like that would be fun. Hot dogs make everything more fun.

3. PBR. It’s red, white and blue and I’m thankful that it costs less than a sandwich.

4. Coleslaw. It’s not even American but the Fourth of July is the perfect opportunity to cover an assortment of meats with loads of coleslaw.

5. Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty on the radio all day long. I don’t care what anyone says, a Fourth of July celebration is not complete without The Boss and some collective “Free Falling” renditions.

On that note, I’m going to go shove my face with coleslaw and beer. I’ll surely be updating this post when I inevitably come across some other Independence Day wonders at the fireworks tonight on River Street.

*UPDATE: I did not come across more things I was thankful for yesterday. Probably because I missed the fireworks and I realized people watching isn’t nearly as enjoyable in the dark without night vision goggles, which I don’t have. I’ll put it on the Christmas list.

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