Coffee Break: Sipping Into Something More Comfortable
or, Care for a little 'pick me up'?
by Evany Thomas
So it's official: The Wedding Season
is upon us. When I'm not spending my weekends doing the funky chicken at an
actual nuptial celebration, I'm hunting for the perfect bread maker on the happy
couple's registry, dropping off my cake-smeared dress at the cleaners, penning
faintly dirty limericks for toast time, and so on. Since I heart weddings, it's
all fairly painless. But sometimes, I catch myself thinking not-so-happy thoughts:
What are these people thinking? How can they face 50/50 divorce-rate odds and
still say, "I do"? What is it that propels these lemmings down the aisle?
Whisky a Go-Go
The answer recently came to me after an evening at a bar full of fellow denizens
of Singledom. Sure [tipsily peel off my smoke-choked clothes] those marrying
kinds are full of admirable and enviable love and optimism [down three aspirin
and four glasses of water], but, more than anything [sway, stagger, and
collapse diagonally across the bed] the reason so many people are getting
married these days [clutch pillow as room slowly begins to spin] is so
they'll never [wake the next morning to a blinding headache], ever [and
an empty wallet] have to spend another night at a singles' bar.
The problem with the singles' bar scene is this: The process of meeting someone
-- scoping the prospects, locking eyes with the target, the fumbling "grab drink,
sidle up" maneuver, the get-to-know-you chat, the discovery that you've landed
someone who "loved that show, 'Shasta McNasty,'" the awkward escape... and
repeat -- it takes time. Cruising is nervous, thirsty work, and one drink
can easily turn into four or six before your songs even come on the juke box.
By the time you find someone promising, those beer goggles are strapped on nice
Double-Tall and Handsome
you embark on a mate hunt, you want to be alert and looking your best. So why
do four out of five people surveyed continue to lean so heavily on the bar as
their one outlet for meeting people? Obviously, drinking lowers people inhibitions
and gives them the courage to start a conversation with a stranger. But wouldn't
it be better if everyone were drinking something that filled them not with false
confidence but sharpened wit(s) and a twinkle in their eye?
Like, for instance, a nice cup of coffee?
Coffee has a lot going for it. It's relatively cheap (even a triple-grande,
non-fat, extra foamy mocha costs less than your average draft beer), you can
do something else (sketch, read, study, check
your email) as you drink, and, unlike the heavy fog of depression that hovers
over a bottle of booze, coffee is a stimulant. It's so stimulating, in fact,
it has been linked to the prevention
of suicide. So, by definition, we're more likely to meet peppy go-getters
over a cup of something hot and black.
Breakup Girl's best coffee-related
BG: How do you take your coffee?
Party Guest: I like my coffee like I like my women.
Plus, in most countries of the world, the places that offer a steamin' hot
cuppa joe and room to sit down and enjoy it are varied and plentiful. There's
the Diner-type American
diner, where cream comes in little, peel-top plastic containers, food is
of the "cherry pie and burger" variety, and the coffee is weak, sometimes even
burnt, but always hot and full of caffeine. There are chain coffee shops, like
IHOP or Denny's
for those of you who don't like surprises. And then there's the traditional
cafe, where food is on
the croissant/biscotti/oatcake end of the spectrum, and the percentage of students
and pierced, brooding journal writers is much higher.
you choose to go, however, it's the coffee that gives you a compelling reason
in once place for hours on end, offering you the all-important time you need
to work up the nerve to strike up a conversation. Surely in the hours it can
take to nurse a cappuccino you'll find a way to offer to quiz the hottie with
the flashcards at the next table. Or perhaps you're having trouble getting that
laptop to recognize its networking card, offering the perfect excuse to rely
on the kindness, and techno know-how, of a stranger?
Just make sure you switch to decaf at some point, because too
much coffee can be almost as bad a first-impression maker as too much booze:
People want to participate in a conversation, not listen to a frantic monologue.
And the shakes and sweats tend to make you look a lot crazier than you really
On Common Grounds
Once you manage to get a nice, normal conversation percolating, odds are you'll
have at least one topic to talk about: your strong fondness for coffee. Subtopics
abound, naturally: is 195 degrees just too hot? What are the politically correct
implications of shade-grown beans? Which is the better coffee town: Seattle
or San Francisco?
And who knows? After converting from White Russians to black Americanos and
doing the requisite scouting missions of your local cafes and coffeeshops, you
might start to enjoy the subtle insights of the true caffeinophile. After all,
you truly have to love coffee to understand another coffee lover. Only someone
with their very own java monkey on their back knows that walking ten blocks
out of the way for a perfect cup is in no way insane.
And then, before you know it, you may find that you and that 195-degree hottie
you just met speak the same language.
You can't stop Evany Thomas; you can only hope to contain her. In her
most recent Big To Do, she expounded the Cortina Principle
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