On Coffee Shops and Ennui
One weekend day after scratching my beard to remove crumbs from the cherry greek yogurt parfait I had at brunch, I decided to take my copy of Walden Pond to a coffee shop to relax and contemplate the week. Leaving brunch was very straightforward, given that the process of getting in the car, backing out of my space, and later making a left onto the street was fairly constrained. However, as I turned onto the tree-lined, pedestrian friendly thoroughfare that rested on the former location of a crack house, I began to contemplate the futility of existence, and how every choice I made now closed off an infinite number of future lives I could have led, as simply as closing the last page of my favorite book, beard trimmings and all.
How could an all-natural soy latte cure my dread? No amount of coffee shop jazz or gentrified rap songs played on a device manufactured in a Malaysian sweat shop could assuage by bad feelings. The idea that I had to choose between a locally sourced coffee shop or a chain coffee shop that, let’s be honest, had much better coffee without the ego boost, seemed too much for a soul to contemplate. If only fainting couches fit in by hybrid mini van.
I continued driving aimlessly to my inevitable fork in the road. On the side walk was a woman in workout clothes running with her dog. She was carrying those little green plastic bags for cleaning certain types of trash. How funny that little bastard of a dog went from an alarm system for the human to using the human as a personal janitorial service. “Why am I calling him a ‘human’?”, I thought. ”Who am I to judge, my dog cleaned up that parfait.” Fortunately, both coffee shops allowed dogs.
I was approaching the traffic light and had to make a choice. Normally contemplating the ultimate futility of existence was enough to bring me into a more decisive mood. Once I realized this method was futile, I could see both coffee shops in my rear-view mirror. I did a U-turn. Since my problem appeared to be laziness, I thought the easiest way out of this crisis was simply going to the shop that was now on my right. I threw on my brakes as two men on a tandem bicycle rolled by, Italian gelatos in hand and color-coordinated twin boys in tow.
I parked and then realized that I was at the chain coffee shop, where I had no rewards card and where they had no environmentally friendly coffee cups made of 60% post-recycled wood fibers. But then I would have to spend another span of time in my short existence waiting at the traffic light. I sat in my car and started reading. My dog jumped in the passenger seat and licked my face before I could do anything. It smelled like cherry greek yogurt parfait.