Evan's Pizza. No, you don't have the wrong number.
So I made a list of interesting things said at the counter of the coffee shop where I am a modern day confession priest/maker of caramel lattes:
My mother is caught in the second phase of deconstruction and cannot get out!
This from this girl, 20-something, hair so proud of itself for being dyed jet black. It starts out as a genuine lament (she's got issues with her mother, you know? Who doesn't?) and finishes where you can tell she is gonna write it down on a piece of loose-leaf paper and stick it up on her bulletin board when she gets home. CUTE QUOTES BY ME. Well, congrats, kid, I thought it was pretty funny too. I mean seriously. We makers of caramel lattes can appreciate a good deconstruction joke.
She'd been building to it, going on (to her friend: same age, girl, naturally colored hair) about how her mother was always telling her don't trust men, they lie, they'll break your heart, they're good for nothing. The friend was nodding, asking stuff like did her mother have a good childhood? Strong male role model? How was her marriage to Cute Quote Girl's dad? I thought, This chick is stuck in Freudian analysis can cannot get out.
But I wasn't listening that carefully, I was cleaning up these goddamn tea leaves that Noelle spilled (but Noelle's too busy being the boss to clean it up herself, right? Fuckin' Noelle and her loose tea leaves. Costs less, but she can charge more for it because it looks all fancy). Anyway. So maybe I should give the friend the benefit of the doubt. I try to do that. I mean, when you're studying character you have to remember that people are complex.
I have a friend who answers the phone "Evan's Pizza Place" because he wants to own his own delivery service because he always thought pizza ovens were cool.
And was he wrong, this Evan guy? No. Pizza ovens are cool, the way you lift the pizza out with that flat giant-spatula thing. (Guess where I worked before this. It wasn't hipster like this but there was a pungent feeling at the end of the day. I kind of pretended I was in working class Italy or something. That got depressing though, so then I just thought about writing a story about working class Italy, and how maybe I could go there to do research.)
Evan's friend paid with a $100 bill, barely watched me count his change because he was talking to this chick with him. Evan's friend was tall, like 6'3" or 6'4" and this girl was maybe 5'1". I thought it was very brave of them to be together. I dated a girl who was three inches taller than me once and it weirded me out, even though she almost never wore heels, to be nice I think.
I could have totally short-changed him, he was so wrapped up in Evan and this girl. But I didn't. I thought, No, man, he's given you Evan, you should pay him. Also, Noelle was standing right over me.
She was like, Freddy, can you please go on your break? So I went and didn't get to hear more about Evan. I thought about how if I were a good writer/filmmaker/whatever (it varies from day to day, just like whether I'm the priest people tell their secrets to or a fly on the wall), I would stay and listen, even though I only get two 15-minute breaks in an eight-hour shift, plus a half-hour for lunch of course, but I mean, I'm on my feet like the entire time. But I wasn't about to be a kiss-ass employee. People like fuckin' Duncan (Great job with the Open Mic Night flyers, Noelle! Can I restock something since it's slow, Noelle? Can I pick up an extra shift this weekend, Noelle?). Sure, the guy was a great coffeehouse employee, but would he ever be anything more than that, when he devoted his free time to stacking Styrofoam cups? Exactly.
I can't believe I've gotten to the finger-picking portion of the evening so quickly.
She blushed. She was coffee-spinner skinny and, I swear to god, an albino. Seriously. She was playing guitar at the aforementioned open mic night, singing lyrics like There's a fire behind your shoulders/ I demure and burn, the tension smolders but she had a great deep voice, croaky like her lyrics, even if her metaphors were weird. I didn't know what finger-picking meant, but I decided pretty quick that it meant slow-ass songs that make you want to kill yourself. Well, it was more like she wanted to kill herself (so the lyrics suggested)—I just wanted to leave. It seemed like she'd been playing finger-picking songs all night, come to think of it.
I didn't want any more bad poetry cluttering up my brain. It could do irreversible damage. I lost a roommate to Kerouac who, okay, isn't always a poet and isn't technically bad, but there's something about him, how he brings out the bad writer in people.
She came up to me after and I tried really hard to listen to what she was saying because of, like I said, her cool voice, but also because she'd had this really interesting life, going to New York and working in a tampon factory (not in New York, before that, but I forget where). I decided right then that I needed to get some better anecdotes for my before-I-made-it-life. Everyone worked in a coffeehouse. I started thinking about how maybe I could ask my brother in law, who I'd never talked to very long because he seemed kind of dumb, if maybe he could get me a job. I think he worked at the docks or something.
It's saved on a diskette named Navy Is The New Black.
I think he was a fashion editor or something. Photo editor? Editor of fashion photos? His name was Farris, I know because this girl who must have been an intern or something since she was young and seemed weird about calling him by his first name, kept calling him that. Like if she said it enough it would cancel out all the other times she'd said it.
The intern was taking notes. Farris was being really gay, which I say only as a way of describing him, a kind of shorthand. I would be more specific if I were doing a serious character study. I did, however, appreciate the sheer creativity involved in naming a diskette at all, let alone naming it something specific based on its color, something fashion-related, something that was a sentence and not a name. Props to Farris.
The only problem was that both Farris and the intern ordered Soleil Café House Sandwiches, which in spite of being called House Sandwiches are not at all easy to make. I can never put all the ingredients on at the right times. By the time I get the sprouts washed, the tomatoes have made the bread soggy and the line starts to back up and the people who aren't waiting for the sandwich get antsy because they don't even get a sandwich for their troubles. It was a project I would have gladly handed over to Duncan, but of course at that time he was out sweeping the front porch. I started to think maybe he and Noelle were having an affair, I mean that would explain so much. Well fine, let them have their affair, even though she was like 30 and he was like 17, 18. It was charming, really, their small coffee-drenched lives together. They could lay awake into the night talking about different grades of grounds. This image was funny and creepy and brilliant to me. It had some pretty great elements. As much as it pained me, I tried to retain the mental image.
Life might suck in some ways, but at least it's a dynamic and new kind of suck instead of the same old suck.
That was my second week here, from my friend Tris. I was complaining about not getting into Columbia and we were both agreeing I should have applied other places too, just in case, and then he tried to cheer me up. It was better than the pizza job, it seemed, and there were so many people with laptops plugged in that the walls practically buzzed and I did too. Later I discovered that these sorts of laptop, daytime people did not have jobs and tended to only drink tea. One cup. Lasted them the whole day. Not that I cared, it wasn't my money to lose. But sometimes I forget about corporate sabotage and sticking it to the authority figures and think about how certain things are bad for business. It's a bad habit, I know, I'm working on it.
My foster sister loves biscotti.
That's what Duncan said when I caught the little kiss-ass sneaking like 12 of those hard chocolate rip-offs (seriously, who "loves" biscotti?) into his backpack. We got coffee for free (except blended drinks), but everything else we had to pay half-price for. And not like I was watching, because really I don't care if he wants to steal the fucking cash register, but I just happened to notice he wasn't exactly ringing up $2.17 x .5 x 12, you know?
Then he started freaking out on me. Don't tell Noelle, Freddy, I'm sorry, I really can't lose this job. Shit like that. Like I'd snitch. I mean, tempting as it would be to not have to work with him ever again. I guess there could be worse co-workers though. At least Duncan doesn't mind doing stuff like scrubbing the tiny, horrible millions of parts on the espresso machine, which leaves me free to people-watch.
I'm thinking I will start answering my phone Evan's Pizza. See, the cool part is that my name is not Evan. It will scare some people away, make them hang up, think they have the wrong number. And the ones who are left will be people who really appreciate art.
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