(Short 'N Curlies) — #19
A historical Twentieth Column (don't be confused by the #19 up there, kids — you'll recall the wanky Column#0 back at the start) demands something special: a Bumper Double-Length erudite-fest of Vital Wisdom!
Sadly, I can't be arsed with that. You'll have to make do with an overlong bumsplash of misanthropic Nasty instead. HA.
I have become an internet hobo.
In another age, social milieu or fucked-up circumstack I'd be an Actual Nomadic Vagrant; having returned from the oft-described Life Of Riley in sunny Spain to find myself without home or hope. I'd spend my days defining my territory in terms of sleep-viable benches, access to alcohol-gel dispensers in local hospitals, and the availability of easy-to-catch undiseased squirrels in park areas. Instead, Praise Be, my physical needs are baaaasically covered in a slew of family members, favours called-in, and the lumpy sofas of Chums.
Buuut this is the 21st century, dear reader, and you know as well as I that the Merely Corporeal is far from the top of the priority agenda. No: sleep, warmth and physical succour I may have, but my Vital Interpersonal Being is unloved and untended.
I have no reliable Internet Access. Weep for me.
I am thus doomed to wander — a digital eidolon — between likely-looking coffee-shops and sleazy cafés, jonesing for free access: hunting the mythical Plug Socket of battery-sparing charity in — dream it! — a wanker-free seating area. I quest around London like some latter-day Galahad for — the motherlode! — a solitary unencrypted blob on the Signal Found bar, and then… ah! The chance to suckle, like an electric seal-pup, on the feeble dataspume that ensues.
Coffee-shops are horrid places. Really. Truly, deeply awful. You might disagree, leaping pluckily to the defence of your local bean-grinder with its cheery staff (Friends Who Take Your Money™), its warm and inoffensive decor, its attractively homogenous pastries which Might Be A Bit Overpriced But, Y'Know, It's Worth It, Mm-Mm, That Is One Wicked-Good Muffin, Yessir. I understand your position — honestly. I was like you, once. But the fact is, you just don't know. You don't see the truth; you haven't had the opportunity to peel back the layers of obfuscating Leisure Association that surrounds the word "Café". And nor shall you, until — pray it never happens — you have no choice but to visit.
You understand the difference, right? Oh, yeah, fine: as soon as there's the option to go, your average caffeine junkieshack is tolerable. A change from the solitary Freelance Desk Of Death! A warm and thrumming social hub! A Kenyan-blend pheromone totem for all humanity!
Fuck you, with your I-Can-Leave-Whenever-I-Want! Your I-Had-A-Danish-Yesterday-So-Maybe-Something-Different-Today! Your My-Drink's-Gone-Cold-But-That's-Okay-I'll-Just-Leave-It! Your bitchtitting carefree fucking Happiness!
Consider the alternative. Roleplay, chummy. Imagine, if you can, being sat there because you have no choice. You haven't had caffeine in days. It's raining outside and you haven't got an umbrella. You've been sleeping on a mate's sofa but you daren't take a dump in his home because he's got this weird frosted-glass toilet door and you can see his flatmate passing back and forth whenever you try and squeeze-out a Dirty Spine. And worst of all, you haven't had access to the Internets for one whole hour, and — despite your tea costing more than a Private Splenectomy, despite having heard every song on this Generic Atmospheric Crap™ album three times — there's nonetheless the teensiest chance that that one bloody editor (you know the one, that guy who was meant to reply a month ago but hasn't even acknowledged receipt of your Amazing Industry-shaking Pitch), might've got back to you in the last few minutes. And so you hunch in the stale-corners of the room, laptop poised like a DIY nuke, refresh-refresh-refresh,and sit… and sit… and sit…
That, reader, is Me.
And so you see, ahaha, with all due respect, why your rosy-tinted opinion on the subject is worth slightly less to me than a pickled peck of pigpiss. Coffee shops are abject, evil, wretched and vile places. And — you saw it coming — mostly that's down to the people in them.
At this precise instant I find myself surrounded by unusually Rich Pickings on that very subject, and so — like a pith-helmeted explorer in the Forests Of Fuck, I present to you the Taxonomy Of Twunts:
In The Past Three Hours I Have Mostly Been Hating:
1. To my immediate left, seated alone: The Egregious Space-Dominating Huffpuffer. Magazines, gloves and non-vital items of clothing are smeared like social margarine across a table large enough for six, in a café otherwise saturated with human meat. Somewhere near the back an old lady is forced to stand for want of a seat, and over at the bar a half-dozen flustered execs are eyeing the assembly with impatience; awaiting a table. But the Huffpuffer makes no move; except to rearrange a few outlying items of personal bric-a-brac, underlining that this table is not only In Use but also exclusive; verboten; unapproachable. And woe-betide any person (ie: me, when I first arrived here) — who politely wonders: Is This Seat Free? He shall discover, oh yes, why the Huffpuffer is so called, as she rolls her eyes, shakes her head, moans gently under her breath, and declares:
'Does it look free?'
Her aura is bile-black, and one may Hate her with psychic herpes.
2. A little further away, in the opposite corner, witness the Lonely Loon. Or, rather, don't: because if he sees you looking you'll never get rid of him.Touched by the moon at an embryonic stage, he's tormented by the need to Make Conversational Contact, but cursed by an inability to a) say anything interesting, b) listen to a word anyone else says, and c) stare in a single direction without one eyeball getting bored and orbiting off on its own. Twice now he has slipped — with all the silver-tongued grace and subtlety of a retarded rhino — into other coffee-sippers' attentions: blundering into one couple's discussion about Croatia with the opening gambit "I've been to Iceland!", and kickstarting a tête-à-tête with a passing table-clearer via the incisive query: "do they make you wear those uniforms, then?"
It's difficult to fully Hate a Lonely Loon. He carries the mitigating bonus that — when properly deployed — he can successfully thin-out a crowd of the most determinedly annoying people. He is the natural enemy of the Huffpuffer, and has an aura the colour of God's Dreams.
Hate him, if you must, with Ice and Farts.
3. At a bench-seat near the door: The Glarer. A general description of this malevolent little fuckoid is a tricky proposition, since the slightest attempted inspection achieves only a momentary view of a single, malignant, bloodshot eye; returning the stare with a thousand added watts of concentrated aggression. He gets his kicks directing this beam of existential violence at the strangers around him, but fails to win any Respect Points (on grounds of being a fellow Hater) because his loathing is unconsidered, undiscerning, and ill-conceived. He would hate the Blameless if he thought it'd make them shift uncomfortably in their seats, because The Awkwardness Of Others provides his psychic sustenance.
His aura (regarded discreetly from the corner of your eye) is a spiky goblin-green. Hate him with mirror-glasses and mid-80's pop music.
4. To my right: The Slurper. Not a specimen so much as a whole genus of Irritating Fucktards: their outward plumage may well vary, but their whole wretched tribe are united in their ability to generate Annoying Sounds. Such is the power of this gift that even the most subtle of their signals can effortlessly puncture the concentration of anyone nearby; transforming the most straightforward of discussions into a fractured exchange of "where was I"s, "what was I saying"s and "I think I might vomit"s. The Slurper doesn't so much derail a train of thought as steal its tracks for scrap, stuff incendiary devices up the driver's arse and pump mustard gas into the carriages. As the name suggests, most Slurpers choose as their principal Aural Weapon that moment of lip/cup/liquid interaction — generating from even the tiniest amount of fluid a noise akin to the ripping papery foreskin of an over-amorous Walrus — but a whole host of variations exist. Scrunchers, munchers, tutters, sniffers, scratchers, coughers, throat-clearers and Cunts With Stupid Laughs: they're all related. Today's particular specimen, for the record, belongs to a little-known species known as The Moaner; who occasionally lets-off a honking Sigh like an unconvincing orgasm, despite being engrossed in nothing more exciting than the dirt beneath his nails.
(Special mention, in this category, goes to the Talking-Too-Loud, Making-Bleeps-With-Your-Mobile-Phone, and Why-Bother-With-Those-Headphones-When-Your-Music-Is-So-Fucking-Loud-I-Can-Hear-It-Anyway subspecies, who have — of course — been professionally Hated so universally elsewhere).
The Slurper's aura is a sticky froth of moustache-hairs and snot. Hate him with Pink Noise.
5. The Shitter, standing above me and to one side, deserves a brief namecheck. He's not a fellow customer per se, but a curse sent by Dark And Pagan Gods to make everyone's day worse. His pleasure is to wander into the café, lurk like a pervert in a playground until the toilet is vacant, then lay the vilest, stinkiest, most toxic Turd the universe has ever seen. And not flush. And leave the door open.
Like the Lonely Loon, he avoids Maximum Hatings on the grounds that — if you can stand to inhale the Poo Particles he leaves in his wake — you can be confident that at least a few of your co-caféteers can't; thus thinning the pack a little more.
6. At the comfy sofa area behind me: The Ubiquitous BroodMothers. Familiar horrors to anyone who's ever ventured into a coffee shop: it's their particular misconception that their mewling pack of snotty, floppy-haired, feckless little terrors — who come complete with a sense of entitlement bigger than their weekly allowances and names like Rupert, 'Bastian and Aaaaaaalasdair — are a Boon And Gift to the universe which must be shared with every other person in the vicinity. (And let's have no sympathy here, before you say, for suggestions that Exhausted Mothers Deserve A Moment To Relax: these perma-tanned harridans wouldn't dream of controlling, disciplining or calming their amphetamine-synthesising placental demonlings even if they weren't too fully engrossed in mutually whinging to notice (for instance) their Youngest spiritedly jumping up and down on my laptop cable. Today's examples are halfway through a familiar refrain: How Hard Life Is Now That Our Overpaid Banker Husbands Had To Cut The Nanny's Hours Because Of The Credit Crunch.
Their auras are made of orange makeup and brick-in-the-face Perfume, and the diligent Hater would do best to sow broken glass in the sandpit at the local playground. It won't hurt the BroodMothers directly, but it might stop their Spawn from venturing too far.
And last but not least, occupying a space which is in No Particular Direction, the most annoying of them all:
7. The Typist. See him now; nursing the cheapest thing on the menu — Small Tea Please Guv — for three long hours; fingers blurring across a sticky keyboard. See how he glances up every few moments to check who's watching, obscene in his puddle of self-importance. See how every BingleBongle of arriving email draws flickers of irritation from his fellow customers: hints of attention which secretly thrill him. Tappety tappety tap, say his fingers. I'm A Massive Cunt, say his eyes.
His aura is made of bergamot and beer, and you don't need to Hate Him, readers, because I've got it covered.
Anyway: that right there is precisely why the Forced Coffee-Shop Experience is a truly awful, awful thing. Because for all the righteous ire and loathing you cast at the unlikeable human menagerie around you, you can't help but suspect, actually… secretly…
…you're the worst of the lot.
Find Me @:
Send wurdz, thoughts, stories, Hatings, and post-coital sneezes to the Only Checked Occasionally And I Might Not Bother Replying At All Ha Ha Ha email address:
Or the It Might Not Get To Me At All But If It Does I Promise To Recycle It snailmail address:
C/O William Christensen,
515 N. Century Blvd.
Rantoul, IL 61866
(Disclaimer: Secretly, I'm nice.)