Friday, November 7, 2008

It's The Ambiance

Clearly I need to purchase my own table at Starbucks. They could do that, couldn’t they. Kind of like the way people used to buy pews at church, and then slap on a brass placard bearing the family name.

The three problems with Starbucks are these:

1. There are not enough tables.
2. There are not enough wall sockets.
3, If you frequent the same Starbucks often enough, you end up making acquaintances with people who would otherwise be perfect strangers, and therefore find yourself compelled to actually visit with these people instead of applying yourself to the main purpose that brought you there (which, in my case, is to write questionably worthwhile blog entries).

I have tried to expand my area of coverage, as well as to explore new options, but my success has been minimal.

At one Starbucks location I very often end up helping Tseng, a middle-aged Laotian man, with his English. He has been studying English grammar for a while now (about 30 years, I believe), and continues to have some trouble. I am a good teacher, he says. It’s kind of like when I tell my dog that he’s the best dog in the world, both of us knowing full well that he is the only dog I own.

At another Starbucks I consistently run into my stepson’s old girlfriend. I think she lives there. Or maybe she works there. And I think she holds a torch. I haven’t seen or talked to my stepson for quite a long time now, so we run short on material. For this reason, I’ve taken to making things up. That Preston is going into NASA, for instance, or that he just got back from Manchuria, or that he’s dating the bearded lady from the circus currently passing through town. I don’t fault myself for this. After all, for all I know, these things could be true.

The problem with some of these places has not so much to do with people, but simply with location. The Starbucks on Gleason, for instance, crowds so closely to the busy road that I was actually splashed by rain water once—while sitting at a table inside, mind you!

On the West side of town there is a Starbucks that is very large indeed—plenty of room—with easy chairs and cushioned footstools, comfy looking communal areas, and lonely tables lurking in corners for unsociable people like me. But where are the wall sockets? They are on one wall only, five of them, lined up beneath a high counter. One sits on a bar stool in order to reach the counter top, feeling rather as if he is on stilts and ought to have a foamy Budweiser at hand. Not to mention an ashtray.

My wife and I went to the same Starbucks, to the same church, and frequented the same nightclub long before we actually met one another.


Perhaps you will say that I ought to just stay home, drink my own coffee, sit at my own table in my own chair, and compose these pearls of wisdom and profundity in the comfort and solitude of my own domicile. And that may be right. It may be so.

Still and all, it wouldn’t be quite the same. Would it?

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