More specifically, I'm talking about the coffee shop. Many people are surprised to learn that I had never been inside a coffee shop until I was sixteen. This is mostly because there were no cafés within a 52 minute drive of my childhood sipcode.
You see, besides the house that I grew up in, the only other residents on our dirt road were my grandparents, who now spend the majority of their time cultivating gallons of homemade wine. So the target demographics and revenue forecasts don't bode well for a successful beverage establishment (or bookstore, or movie theater, or bar, or anything else that makes a decent example of western civilization).
During my first week of junior year at my fancy new magnet school near downtown Durham, my lab partner suggested making flash cards for marinebiology at the local coffeeshop. I could only respond with a measly, "Um... Okay!" Because I figured that reaction was better than revealing myself as a country bumpkin who had no idea why anyone would go to a drink shop to get work done.
In fact, the very idea of going to a business solely to buy coffee, in my mind, was absolutely ridiculous, because if you weren't buying a pickup truck full of groceries or going to church, it wasn't worth the drive. And because coffee was fucking gross, since I had only had the Foldgers Dark Roast my grandfather put in his cofee maker, set to brew automatically at 6 am every morning.
|This is tea, not coffee, but I got it in a coffee shop, so SHUT UP IT'S RELEVANT & PRETTY. Photo: Taylor Halcomb|
"Oh! There are couches!" I said, bewildered.
"Well, yeah. It's a coffee shop." My partner was not amused by my acute observation.
Up until then I thought I could keep it cool and pretend that I had done this sort of thing before, but I broke down and admitted that this was baby's-first coffee shop.
"WHAT?" my partner said, "Are you serious? How could you live without a coffee shop?" Apparently she had lived a glamorous life in the 'burbs, within close proximity to three cafés, a Whole Foods Market, and a Costco. A small 20-something suddenly appeared behind the counter. "OH HI give me an extra foam, non-fat latte at 125 degrees with a shot of espresso and can you stir in two packs of Splenda before the milk is added THANKS!"
I may have peed a little.
"And you?" The cashier with a crooked nose ring gave me a questioning look.
"Um... can I just get, um, the berry tea?"
I fell over. "How much??"
"Three. Ninety. Five." The barista (as I later learned they were called) spelled out the numbers with her sausage fingers clad in obnoxiously large spoon rings.
"I'll just get water, thanks."
"Ugh... CANCEL THAT ORDER!" she yelled to the other barista standing two feet to her left.
I settled into a mustard-yellow couch with blue and orange leopard print throw pillows, and made absolutely no headway on my flash cards. I WAS IN A FUCKING COFFEE SHOP, YA'LL.
|Baby's first pumpkin spiced latte. I remain UNCONVINCED that it contained pumpkin-anything. Photo: Greg Kozatek|
So, if you're like I was and have no idea how coffee shops work, you probably never will. Just meet friends there, drink out of attractive cups, and pretend like you know what you're doing. Maybe the odd sensation of "what's going on here" will go away eventually. I'll let you know when that happens.