Monday, September 1, 2014

fjords of honey

Portrait of a Coffee Shop:

The music running through the loudspeakers is Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head." For some reason, this music does not fit the coffee shop at all. I can't explain why. But there's something about this coffee shop that suggests it should only play Norah Jones and The Head and the Heart. Nothing else. Dean Martin sounds incongruous. I wish there was a way to explain this logically. But trust my intuition on this. Dean Martin has no place here.

Furthermore, there is a pigeon casually walking through the open doors. It's summer in NYC, so the entire front portion of the restaurant is open, letting the noises and breezes off the street permeate the calm blue brick walls. This pigeon is waddling about, minding its own business, pecking crumbs off the floor. He struts about on the hardwood floors with a casual bonhomie and careless insouciance. He cocks his eyes saucily at the patrons, daring them to deny him admittance to his favorite café. By the table right on the border between the indoors and outdoors, a woman who is dressed in running clothes, drinking an iced latte, answering emails on her iPhone is worried by the pigeon. He is circling her table,  picking up crumbs that are invisible to us common men. She eyes him charily, clearly not happy with the situation. I am fascinated, and take a break from reworking two-year-old dialogue to callously gawk at a fellow human in dire peril. As the pigeon waddles his way towards me, I grin and think about texting my friend who is very afraid of pigeons. I used to laugh at people who were afraid of birds. Then I saw a clip (not even the whole movie, mind you) of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. And then, this summer, a bird flew in an open door, and threw itself against the ceiling, trying desperately to regain the blue sky. Gingerly, a team of us ushered the panicking bird out of the building. Looking up at the ceiling, I saw all sorts of holes in the plaster where the bird's beak had hit the ceiling. Yipes. Those were not pretty. I now understood the fear of birds. Although I still do not flinch when a pigeon flies at me, since then, I have given our flying friends a wider berth, and looked upon them with greater respect.

The pigeon wandered back towards Nervous IPhone Lady. Nervous IPhone Lady got increasingly more nervous. Finally, she stomped her tennis-shoe-encased foot on the floor by the pigeon, in an attempt to frighten him off. Affronted and offended, the pigeon spread his wings a bit and hopped away from the table. His general attitude was one of annoyance and hurt. How could that woman be so rude as to stomp at me? his beady little eyes seem to say. He ruffled his feathers a bit and then, realizing with resentment that his presence was no longer appreciated, he flew away. Shaken by her exposure with one of nature's flying rats, Nervous IPhone Lady got up a few minutes later, disposed of the last few drops of her latte, and scurried off.

Finally, now, this coffee shop is fulfilling its true telos, and playing Norah Jones.
All is right with the world again.


  1. So you hit me hard this time as I am one of those people who are unexplanably afraid of birds! And not just huge pigeons, but even small sparrows! No laughing! and then when you said "all is right with the world", Amanda just used that same phrase on facebook last week. You two really are one person! Miss you, T

    1. Aw, thank you, Aunt Terri! And no laughing here, I promise. The NYC pigeons are tough little buggers. I wouldn't want one of them flying at my head! I miss y'all too! come visit soon. xoxo