Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wishful thinking

Stereotypes are bad, Internet. They encourage you to make assumptions about people, and you should really appreciate them each as the wonderful individuals that they are. And stereotypes are frequently wrong! For example, based on stereotypes, you might assume that everyone in Seattle works in software or airplane assembly. You'd think that they'd all be wearing fleece and Gore-Tex, and that everyone would spend their spare time in coffee shops, hiding out from the rain.

This is so not true! In fact, I'm sitting in a coffee shop right this minute, and only 75% of the people in here are wearing fleece or Gore-Tex!

Of course I am wearing both fleece and Gore-Tex, because it is pouring out and I didn't want to soaked on the way to my daily coffee, Kindle-reading, and subtle eavesdropping session. Oh, the joys of eavesdropping in coffee shops. It is just like having a life without actually having to talk to people.

On some days, I am not so good at the talking to people part. I'm better and the "listen and snicker quietly to myself" part.

Like this morning, at the table to the right of me, the Universe has given me the heart-warming drama of mother and child. You know the one. You have seen it for yourself, I'm sure.

Girl: I want a hot chocolate.
Mom: You have a hot chocolate.
Girl: Too hot!
Mom: Blow on it a little to cool it off.
Girl: No!
Mom: Sophia, you are not acting like the little lady I would expect a three year-old to act like.
Girl: I have boots.
Mom: Yes. You have kitten boots.
Girl: Boots. Boots. Boots. Boots. (kicks her chair leg, repeatedly)
Mom: Yes, they are lovely boots. Please stop kicking the chair.
Girl: Boots. Boots. Boots. Boots. (continues kicking)
Mom: Sophia, I would like to enjoy my coffee before we go to playgroup...
Mom: …because I really need my caffeine today. And I would like you to behave properly.
Girl: I want a hot chocolate.

They continue in this loop for a while. Man, I am so glad this isn't me. I don't have the patience to be a mom. The boots are adorable though. I wonder if they make those in adult sizes?

Mom: Sophia--
Girl: NO.
Mom: Young lady, I--
Girl: NO.
Mom: Why are you saying no? You don't even know what I am going to say? Wouldn't it be more effective to find out if you agree with me before you answer?
Girl: NO.
Mom: For example, since you aren't listening to me, how would you know if I were about to say--
Girl:  (kicks chair more loudly, and with malice)
Mom: If you want something, you'd be more likely to get it if you used your words.
Girl: I want a hot chocolate.
Mom: You have a hot chocolate. With extra whipped cream.
Girl: Too hot.
Mom: Well, wait it out. (turns out her cell phone and starts reading Facebook while sipping her coffee)
Girl: I want it now.
Mom: Hmm. Uh-huh.
Girl: I want to go to Disneyland. (accusingly)
Mom: Hmm. I see. (slurps)
Girl: I want a pony. (defiantly)
Mom: Ohhh. (types in status that may say something like "shoot me now")
Girl: I want a sparkly dress. (plaintively)
Mom: Mmm.
Girl: I want ice cream. (authoritatively)
Mom: Uh-huh. (clicks "like" on some meme-photo)
Girl: I want a puppy. (steely-eyed glare)
Mom: Huh.
Girl: I want ice cream. (flaring her nostrils)
Mom: You don't say. (slurp)
Girl: (screeches her chair back, puts both hands on the table, leans forward and screams towards the top of her mother's head) I WANT A ICE CREAM PUPPY!

Everyone in the coffee shop turns to stare. No sound is heard other than the steaming of milk.

Mom: (very quietly) You do? I do too! But ice cream puppies are so hard to find. Oh, wait! I know! I know how to get an ice cream puppy!
Girl: (skeptically) How?
Mom: We can wish to the Very-Quiet-Wish Fairy! She's totally going to bring us an ice cream puppy!
Girl: Is that a real fairy?
Mom: Yes! She is! And she is an extremely powerful fairy, in the hierarchy of fairies.
Girl: She is?
Mom: Oh, yeah, totally. She totally outranks both the Tooth Fairy and Santa. But she is very, very picky about which wishes she grants.
Girl: (thinking)
Mom: There really is only one way to get her to give you want you want.
Girl: What?
Mom: You have to make a very quiet wish.
Girl: Like this? I want--
Mom: Oh, no. That is MUCH too loud.
Girl: (quieter) I want a--
Mom: Nope. Uh-uh. Waaaaay too loud. I can still hear you, and we are in a coffee shop full of posturing hipsters.
Girl: (quieter still) I want a ice--
Mom: Ehhh. That's closer. Try again.
Girl: (her lips barely moving) I want a ice cream puppy.
Mom: That's great! Good job, Sophia. She'll really like that. Now you just have to say your wish-- very quietly-- 300 times.
Girl: How many is 300?
Mom: Shhh! Just keep saying it, and I'll let you know when you can stop.
Girl: (nearly miming) I want a ice cream puppy. I want a ice cream puppy. I want--
Mom: (turns back to her phone)

Nicely played,  lady. Nicely played.

It's rare I get to eavesdrop on such a master. Most of the time I listen to people complain about their coworkers or their exes, and as far as I can tell, no one knows how to handle either.

I sipped my coffee and started reading my Kindle again. Thank you, Universe, for that kind gift of entertainment. And, oh what's this?  A pair of twenty-something college types, a guy and an girl, sit down at the table to my left. They are exuding an energy best described as "giddy first date".

Oh, Coffee Shop Eavesdropping Fairy, you are too kind to me.

Tall Thin Blond: I know, and she was like, "Get that thing away from me!"
Chubby Guy in a Fedora: Ha! That's hilarious!
Tall Thin Blond: She was sooooo drunk.
Chubby Guy in a Fedora: Drunk people are hilarious.

You know how in romantic comedies there is always some funny but normal looking  guy dating the ridiculously attractive blond super model type? I have always thought that was a figment of Hollywood. Until now, since it is like I'm sitting next to Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen.

These two are behaving exactly as you'd expect people to be on a first date.  She is hanging on his every word. He is gazing longingly at her boobs only when she looks away. Ah, new love.

Please don't think I'm judging. I admire them. Dating is like a role playing game: danger lurks around every corner, and just when you think you've gotten the hang of it, the malicious Game Master declares that you have been eaten by a Grue.

Secretly I'm rooting for the guy. Normally I'd be on the girl's side, but in this case my allegiance is with the smart, funny one on a date with someone way out of his league. Gotta love an underdog, even if he appears to have been dressed collaboratively by every guy in his frat.  Awww, it's so cute when they try.

Against all odds, it seems to be working out for him.
Blond: I know, right?
Fedora: True story!
Blond: (laughs)
Fedora: And then  Pepper Spray Cop turns to Hilary on a Cell Phone..
Blond: (laughs)
Fedora: …and says, "I don't remember leaving THAT there."
Blond:   You are so funny!
Fedora: Oh, pshaw.
Blond: (slurps from her blended iced coffee drink, and smiles with her eyes over the edge of her cup)
Fedora: (smiles back, looks a little smug at how well this date is going)

Beware the smugness, dude. The universe does not appreciate the smugness.

Fedora: Hold on a sec. Let me grab a Stranger.
Blond: Who?
Fedora: (gets up, goes to front of shop, gets a free newspaper, holds it up triumphantly)
Blond: What's that?
Fedora: The Stranger. It's like the best paper ever. You really aren't from around here are you?
Blond: I told you! I grew up on a farm!

Oh, playing the Innocent angle. Nice choice, Blondie.

Fedora: Let's see what we have today. Arty photo. Movie reviews. Political rant. Sex advice column.
Blond: You read a sex advice column?
Fedora: No, of course not. I don't need a sex advice column.
Blond: (raises eyebrow)
Fedora: Here it is. The personal ads.
Blond: You need personal ads?
Fedora: These things are the best. Just listen.

Where are you going with this, Fedora?

Fedora: "In search of someone to beat me and make me weed their garden. Organic pesticides only."
Blond: What?
Fedora: That's what it says! Someone's looking for that.
Blond: No way.
Fedora: Way. Here's another one. "Long range trucker. Ex body builder. Looking for a relationship with someone who isn't afraid of a man in a lacy, pink thong."
Blond: What does that mean?
Fedora: Look at this one. "I'll be your young lycanthrope. You be my sparkling vampire. Jell-O pudding optional."
Blond: This is kind of weird. Are people in Seattle all like this?

Uh-oh, Fedora. Pay attention. Your lovely blond is looking decidedly uncomfortable, and you are not noticing because you are too busy scanning the "Other seeking" category.

Fedora: How about this? "Young, hot stud. Looking for two women for a three way."
Blond: Is everyone in Seattle like that?
Fedora: What? That one's not so weird.
Blond: Weird enough.
Fedora: Come on, that one is perfectly normal. See, here's another one, "Married couple looking for bisexual woman to complete our threesome. Pictures of us on request."
Blond: Whatever.

Oh, I see where you are going with this, Fedora, and this path is fraught with danger.

Fedora: Come on. Everyone does that.
Blond: (drinks icily)
Fedora: Would you, like, be into that?
Blond: (steely-eyed glare)
Fedora: Because there could be a dinner fairly nice in it for you.

My head whipped around to stare. I'm sorry, Internet, I couldn't help it. No more Kindle fa├žade for me.

Should I:
  1. Interrupt him and give him advice.
  2. Interrupt her and give her advice.
  3. Stay quiet. One doesn't interrupt other people's dates.

Vote for one of these three choices by using the poll at the top of the page. Voting closes on 4/30.

While you are at it, add a comment to suggest a phrase that I can include in the next chapter. Go on. Challenge me.


Roy G. Biv said...

I vote that a woman with a loud dog walks in and it attacks the man in the fedora. ;)

Jen from Halfgods said...

Though I appreciate your inventiveness, this deal is multiple choice, not fill in the blank.

The Internet picks from these choices, and then I pick how it happens.

a.Interrupt him and give him advice.
b.Interrupt her and give her advice.
c.Stay quiet. One doesn't interrupt other people's dates.

katem said...


I'm totally a stay-quiet-and-then-tell-others-about-it-later gal!

Jen from Halfgods said...

Roy and Katem:
I've decided to use technology to make this easier. There is now a poll at the top of the page, near the start of Wishful Thinking. Pick the choice you think I should go with.

Smoove D said...

Hot chocolate to the crotch fairy, help me now!

Katie said...

I have totally interrupted people when they are making stupid stupid mistakes. Like, for example, thinking that they should buy those skinny jeans in a color that can only be described as too small and a color resembling recently oxidized placenta. (Note: if you are parading up and down the aisle of TJ Maxx thinking you're fierce but you aren't, I will totally tell you. Nicely, of course).
Dating is also good. My favorite is if I'm at a bar alone and happen to eavesdrop on a date going WRONG. I, like you, side with the underdog which is usually a guy, so it's only a matter of time before the girl has to go 'Powder her nose'. I wait until that time and give him a sly smile and some encouragement. Then and flit away like a dating fairy.

I am totally full of myself.

Roy G. Biv said...

Fair enough. You know me, I'm a bit of a rebel.

Look forward to seeing what happens!