Having no friends didn’t stop Susan from going to the local coffee shop. She needed her fix of caffeine just like everyone else and, just like everyone else, she wasn’t afraid to let others know that her fix of caffeine was something she absolutely had to have in order to function in the morning. In fact, it’d become a kind of catchphrase she’d deploy in an attempt to endear herself to the hemp draped hipsters that slouched on the new old-looking sofas. They would nod knowingly and smile politely, acknowledging the effort whilst simultaneously praying that she didn’t ask to sit with them. Something told them, quite rightly, that conversations remembering the plight of forgotten animals and niche websites selling multiple varieties of nut flavoured soya milk would be lost on her. They felt that it was for her own good, none of them wanted embarrassment to spoil their morning coffee.
The coffee shop, called “Simply Frappé” was a typically unique and nauseously pretentious establishment kitted out with “rustic” furniture and “retro” art. The sofas were tatty, the central heating pipes were exposed and breakfast was served on anything unconventional like a piece of slate or a chopping board or some foam picked out of an old man’s chair by a toddler. Breakfast itself was a collection of vaguely Italian ingredients thrown together by an “artisan”, who, rather than being a 57 year old, fully experienced, continental chef as the word artisan would imply, was in fact a 16 year old kid from a middle class family that felt it was beneath them for their child to post newspapers through letterboxes like everyone else.
For some suitably hip reason, the proprietor had decided to hang an old fishing boat from the ceiling and had allowed a bunch of fresh faced, Uni drop-out artists to design and paint an abstract mural to act as a “mood wall” on one side of the shop. Predictably, Susan liked to sit beneath the mood wall because she was always willing to believe some bullshit provided a number of other people liked it too. She said it helped regulate her stress hormones.
Susan made her way to the counter, she waited patiently whilst the barista connected an iPod to the sound system and selected the indie-folk compilation 3 playlist; she scrolled through the list looking for anything that contained the sound of a banjo being tossed into a well and pressed play. Susan looked around, she didn’t need to look at the menu, she already knew what she was going to have, it was a coffee. She watched as a strikingly tall man, dressed from head to toe in pastel shades of corduroy, paid for his items and made his way over to what appeared to be his usual spot. He sunk ungracefully into a large beanbag, next to it was an old table upon which he set his espresso and a well thumbed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. The old table, complete with leg wobble, was unreasonably small and as a result his book fell onto the floor, spilling out various bits of paper and half finished sketches of drainpipes. He began to struggle to get out of the bag like a clumsy giraffe stuck in marshland and in doing so he also knocked his spoon to the floor. The clang of metal on wood resonated around the shop and everyone looked in his direction as he flapped about like a frustrated crane fly bashing itself against a window. It was fascinating to watch, indeed the nature of his ungainly frame and his chosen seat made it a spectator sport with onlookers placing subconscious wagers on whether he’d have to roll out of the beanbag, whether he’d just give up or whether the beanbag would claim him, leaving behind a pair of moccasin style shoes and a sense of resigned inevitability about the whole situation.
With the spectacle having finished with the man gathering up his belongings and dusting himself down, Susan completed her transaction and was faced with a choice, does she take up her preferred spot under the mood wall near the struggling bean bag man or does she join the ranks of the multitasking women in the window, busily sipping their from takeaway coffee cups despite opting to sit in? For a change, Susan decided to take up a stool next to a professional looking woman in the window. She hoped to be able to strike up a relatable conversation about how important coffee was in their lives and about how she couldn’t possibly go without the taste of bitter-brown piss water first thing in the morning. The professional looking woman threw a glance at Susan as she sat down, Susan smiled and gave a slight invitational nod, the woman flicked her eyes up and down assessing and instantly judging her. The outcome was not good and the woman looked back down at her phone without batting an eyelid. Susan lost her smile and began staring blankly out of the window.
Opposite the shop was a bus stop, she found her wandering eyes fixed on a group of squat, elderly women dressed in equally horrific versions of the same wolf fleece. Amongst them was younger, fatter man wearing a similar kitten style fleece with a Slipknot t-shirt underneath. The juxtaposition of the cute and the abhorrent only served to make an already risible individual even more ridiculous. Susan was heartened by what she saw, as shit as her life was, she could at least be content with the knowledge that she wasn’t a roll-your-own grandma in a weird fleece waiting for a bus to take her to a sticky, chip pan fragranced flat in which one pull of red handle would bring a warden straight to her door, gloved to the elbows prepared to clean up all kinds of shit. Literally speaking.
Susan drank what remained of her coffee and skipped off to work.