“Small iced coffee with almond milk?” The subtly edgy girl with the lavender streak in her hair said as she placed my $6 coffee on the polished oak counter.
“Hey, yeah, that’s me,” I murmured, shoving my straw in the lid like an addict and taking a hasty sip. “Thanks,” I added as an afterthought as I ambled over to the recently vacated leather chair like a hermit crab.
As I nestled down and relished in the rich feel of dead cow, I glanced around the eccentric coffee house (because this is Austin, and in Austin, old houses are turned into every fucking type of business) filled with a variety of young adults who hadn’t been totally fucked in the ass by life. Yet, of course.
There were the yuppity 20 to 30-somethings in suits, staring at their MacBooks and just waiting for that sales call that would change their lives. They sat in the center of the room, talking loudly on their phones and making sure everyone knew that, even if they didn’t have big dicks, they were going to make enough money someday that it didn’t matter. Then there were the “writers,” who were also gazing at their MacBooks, but we’re giving off a different air of desperation. As they stared up at the exposed bulb lighting fixtures and the IPA menu filled with local brews on tap, they begged inspiration to hit them. They needed a book idea that would make them able to afford the MacBooks they were working on and the soy milk lattes they were drinking.
I too stared at the exposed bulb fixtures and lazily wondered how long I would have to stare at those magnificent lights in order to have the same effect as the solar eclipse. Was that even possible? Did anyone even actually go blind from the eclipse? I sort of hope so, the shitty part of my brain mused as I rapidly blinked and looked back down at my drink. If no one went blind then it sort of feels like all of the hype was for nothing, you know?
Getting a small coffee was a mistake, I admit. After about three large sips, more than half of it was gone. The menu had freaked me out, though, so I panicked and just went with something familiar. I had read about this place on Yelp, and after seeing the 1,107 reviews on Google Maps, I figured, “what the hell?” I’m already in crippling debt, and since I had decided to start posting food pictures on Instagram, I needed to frequent more trendy places to incorporate them into my soon-to-be lavish aesthetic.
Still, once I was in the setting, I felt somewhat overwhelmed. I usually get caffeine from the old, $20 coffee maker I got from CVS my senior year of college. Going to trendy coffee shops has never been something my anxiety-riddled soul has enjoyed. Between trying to find parking (impossible), trying to find a table that is far enough away from other people so you don’t have to have human interaction (also impossible), getting an outlet, a comfortable chair, and a drink (and snack if you’re truly being reckless) that doesn’t make notifications from your credit card flash up on your screen — well, it’s enough to make you want to pop a Xanny and stay home for the rest of the week.
Still, I knew that if I wanted to become a social media star without losing the 20 or so pounds that I could stand to get rid of and actually like, work out or whatever, I needed to rely on pictures of carbs and restaurants I really couldn’t afford.
Which is why, on that casual Thursday afternoon, I ambled into said coffee shop. I tried to ignore the fact that I felt painfully out of place as the effortlessly cool baristas silently judged me as I mused over whether or not I wanted a $4 organic scone. I tried not to give off how out of touch I felt as I stared up at those exposed bulbs, wondering if anyone in that shop was actually enjoying themselves, or if everyone was just full of shit like I was.
I considered reaching in my bag for my own MacBook, but in the sea of Apple computers, I just couldn’t bring myself to blog in that environment. Hell, the fact that I was a blogger was embarrassing enough. I didn’t have to rub vegan fucking coffee in the wounds. I wasn’t the kind of person who should be sitting on an expensive, dead cow chair in the middle of a weekday afternoon, wearing American Apparel and wondering where I should get my next tattoo (an arrow, obviously). Sure, for some people, small bungalow houses with overpriced lattes, overcrowded patios, and people with handlebar mustaches drinking pale ales at 10 a.m. was the perfect environment to work. Me though? I’m more of a crouch down on the couch in a position that will absolutely result in adult Scoliosis while staring at my computer screen and listening to The Office on a loop. That’s how I thrive.
“Is this seat taken?” A girl with long, blonde dreads asked me, her pierced eyebrow arched up in a question.
I glanced from her ring-covered hands that rested territorially on the chair across from me, to the small table in between the two of us. The table that would turn strangers into friends way too quickly for my liking.
“Yeah, I mean, uh, no,” I hastily reached for my bag and grabbed my empty biodegradable cup. “I was just leaving.”
I hoisted myself out of the dead cow chair and quickly made my way toward the exit. As I tossed my cup in the recycling (there was literally no trash can in this place), I took one final look at the coffee shop. The hipsters overdosing on caffeine, the awkward mom bloggers who were just trying to make it, the random people without jobs who felt like spending their unemployment checks at annoyingly trendy coffee shops.
“Fuck this,” I murmured as I pushed on the door, ready to escape.
“You actually have to pull,” the girl behind the counter said, as I lunged my entire body weight against it.
“Fuck, thanks,” I answered, heaving it open and finally breathing in fresh, non-coffee scented air.
It felt good to be free. I felt like myself. Trendy coffee shops are where bored poseurs go to feel like they’re doing something, I convinced myself as I unlocked my car and settled in. I don’t need that shi–
And then, I remembered. The reason I went to the overpriced shop with the $6 small coffee drinks. It wasn’t to get work done and it wasn’t to appear productive. It wasn’t to write a best-selling book or find a salesman with a small dick to fuck me. I went for one reason and one reason only: To get a picture for Instagram that would make me instantly famous.
So, with a great sigh of regret, I pulled myself out of the car and made my way back to the entrance of the trendy coffee shop. Maybe this time I’ll get the scone, I thought as I tugged on the door I needed to push, ready to make my dreams come true and my social media followers hate me just as much as I hated myself. .