Sex in a cup
Can’t you ask me out
Instead of “Wassup?”
Written by Heather Wells
The guy behind the counter is checking me out. No, really.
He’s hot, too. Well, in a twenty-year-old barista kind of way. I bet he plays the guitar. I bet he stays up way too late at night, strumming, the way I do. I can tell by the slight shadows under his long-lashed green eyes, and the way his curly blond hair is sticking up in spikes all over his head. Bed head. No time to shower before work, because he was up so late practicing. Just like me.
“What’ll it be?” he asks me. But with a look. A look that definitely says, I’m checking you out.
I know I’m the one he’s checking out because there’s no one in line behind me.
Well, and why shouldn’t he check me out? I look good. I mean, the parts of me you can see through my bulky winter outerwear, anyway. I fully put on mascara and cover-up this morning (unlike Barista Boy, I like to disguise my undereye circles). And what with my parka, you can’t see the four—well, okay, ten—pounds I put on over the holidays. Because who counts calories when it’s Christmas? Or New Year’s? Or after New Year’s, when all that Christmas candy is on sale? There’s plenty of time to get in shape again for bikini season.
And, okay, I’ve been telling myself that for the past five or six years, and I still haven’t actually tried it yet—getting in shape for bikini season, I mean. But who knows? Maybe this year. I have two days of vacation due to me, all I’ve accrued since passing my employment probationary period in October. I could go to Cancún. And, okay, just for the weekend. But still.
So what if I’m five—well, maybe eight—years older than Barista Boy? I’ve still got it. Obviously.
“Grande café mocha, please,” I say. I’m totally not into foamy drinks with whipped cream on top of them, but it’s the first official day of spring semester (spring! Right!), and it’s really cold out and supposed to blizzard later, and Cooper left this morning (for destinations unknown, as usual) without turning on the coffeemaker, and my dog Lucy wouldn’t go out because it was so cold, so I’ll probably find a nice surprise from her when I get home, and I REALLY need a little pick-me-up to help me quit feeling so sorry for myself.
Plus, you know, as long as I’m blowing five bucks on a cup of coffee, I might as well go for the gold.
“One grande café mocha, coming up,” Barista Boy says, doing one of those flippy things with my cup. You know, twirling it, like it’s a gun and he’s an outlaw in a western.
Oh, yeah. He definitely plays guitar. I wonder if he sits around writing songs he can never work up the guts actually to perform, like me? I wonder if he’s constantly second-guessing his songwriting talent, like I am?
No. He’s got the guts to get up in front of a crowd with a guitar and his own lyrics. I mean, just look at him.
“Soy or nonfat?” he asks.
Oh, God. I can’t face my first day back to work after break on nonfat milk. And soy? Soy?
“Whole milk, please,” I say. I’ll be good later. At lunch I’ll just have a chicken parm and a salad, and maybe just a BITE of lo-cal frozen yogurt….
Mmmm, unless Magda got in more Dove Bars….
“You know,” Barista Boy says, as he rings me up, “you look really familiar.”
“Oh,” I say. I’m blushing with pleasure. He remembers me! He must see hundreds, maybe THOUSANDS of caffeine-starved New Yorkers a day, but he remembers ME! Fortunately it’s so cold outside, and so warm in here, my red cheeks could easily be taken for the fact that I’m overheating in my coat, and not that I’m kvelling over his remembering me.
“Well, I live and work in the neighborhood,” I say. “I’m in here all the time.” Which isn’t strictly true, since I’m keeping to a pretty tight budget (due to my pitiful salary), which foamy coffee drinks are definitely not part of, since I can get free coffee anytime I want from the cafeteria.
They just don’t have mocha syrup in them. Or whipped cream. We tried to keep whipped cream canisters in the caf, but people kept swiping them in order to do whip-its.
“No,” Barista Boy says, shaking his lusciously shaggy head. “That’s not it. Actually, has anybody ever told you that you look a lot like Heather Wells?”
I take my drink from him. This, of course, is always the tricky part. What do I say? Yes, actually…because I am Heather Wells, and then run the risk of him asking me out simply because he thinks I still have connections in the music industry (so not. See above, re: fear of being booed off the stage)?
Or do I just laugh and say, Why, no? Because then what happens later, after we start dating, and he finds out I am Heather Wells? I mean, I could probably keep it a secret for a little while, but eventually he’s going to find out my real name. Like when we’re in Customs coming back from Cancún. Or when we’re signing the marriage certificate….
So I settle for saying, “Really?”
“Sure. Well, if you were thinner,” Barista Boy says, with a smile. “Here’s your change. Have a good one!”
What I can’t believe is how the entire city can be gearing up for a predicted snowstorm—I mean, trucks filled with salt and sand can be lumbering down Tenth Street, breaking off tree limbs as they go by; the grocery stores can have already sold out of bread and milk; the television can show nothing but Storm Watch updates—and still, the drug dealers are out in full force in and around Washington Square Park.
I guess it just goes to show that we Americans still have a lot to learn from our hardworking immigrant population.
But there they are, standing on the sidewalk in their Perry Ellis parkas, enjoying some fresh mochaccinos of their own. Since it’s the morning a significant—for New York City, anyway—amount of snow is being predicted to come down at any moment, very few people are walking by, but those who do are greeted with cheerful offers of sensimilla.
And okay, those offers are unanimously declined. But when the drug dealers notice me shuffling dejectedly toward them, they kindly shout a list of their wares in my direction.
I would laugh if I didn’t still feel so grumpy about Barista Boy. Plus the fact that, every single time I step out of my house, I am accosted by these guys. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that I have never once made a purchase. They only shrug as if I’m lying or something when I tell them that the strongest artificial stimulant I’ve consumed lately is caffeine. Sadly.