Friday, May 30, 2003
Sunday: Work Freakout

I worked my regular hours (or what seem to be becoming my regular hours) on Sunday. It was an odd day. First off, it was a very slow day with so many people out of town for the long weekend. The assistant manager was talking about shutting down early if things didn't pick up.

Then he realized that he didn't have his keys. This caused him to start flipping out, which caused him to be about as much use (as they say) as tits on a fish. "Tits on a fish," in fact, was precisely the phrase that
came to mind as a sudden rush of customers appeared from nowhere and he was still running around the place looking for his misplaced keys. At one point he was up front while I was in back cleaning some dishes and he called back to me that there were customers... despite the fact that he was closer and I was actually doing work.

Finally it turned out that another barista had used his keys to open the cabinet where we keep the booze during daylight hours. "You obviously hate me," he told her over the phone. "No, she obviously hates me," I corrected him. He apologized for freaking out, and all was well...

Sunday: The Store Trip

...except that the last run had all but entirely depleted our supply of Skim Milk. We were also low on onions. So manager got a twenty from the register and sent me to get more of both.

Down 14th Street to the supermarket I trod. I don't recall what I was considering at the time, only that it struck me as very interesting at the time. Such are often my recollections of walks. I was probably glad for the break in the omnipresent rain that threatens to turn DC into Seattle, though the sidewalk was still dark with it.

I came to the supermarket just past the El Guapo/Boner graffitti and took a brisk turn into the out door. This left me with the only choice of going all the way around the checkout lines or charging through them in the wrong direction. Without pause I chose the second option. Still walking briskly, I cut a left turn past the 8 items or fewer line... only to learn that my dampened traction was not up to its centripetal task. Suddenly my feet were racing port and starboard of my center of gravity and my ass was accelerating toward the floor. I immedialely knew that if I landed on this ass I would break my tailbone and, furthermore, that if I instead landed on my back I would break my neck. So my highly caffeinated mind leapt into action and reached a split-second conclusion, immediately whereafter my arms shot out to grab anything handy.

(To heighten tension here, I'll take a break to marvel at just how much I've been writing since I created thee mighty mighty 'obBlog, as opposed to before when I was writing... well... not at all. This can only be seen as a good thing, and I hope (while I am not necessarily hopeful) that it will last)

The right arm grabbed the partition separating a cashier from the line behind her, and immediately used this purchase to throw its elbow over. The left arm, for its part, grabbed onto the left sleeve of said cashier's logo-emblazoned T-shirt.

With an immediacy speaking of reflexes rivaling my own, the cashier (a smallish black woman) immediately shouted "WHAT you doin'!?" If I may take another moment out I will lament the fact that I have little formal linguistic training, and certainly not enough to express precisely the vocal inflection of the preceding exclamation, which was really quite extraordinary. In non-scientific terms, the "WHAT" was a rising glissando-type affair, terminating only in what I must assume was the highest pitch the woman's voice could reach. For the following two words, the pitch immediately returned to the woman's (again I must assume) usual speaking tone.

As soon as I was sure my descent had been arrested, I released the woman's sleeve, pulled myself up on the barrier, and looked down over my shoulder at a wet patch of floor where a footprint was smeared, curving outward like a coriolanus-affected cirrus cloud.

I apologized twice and continued on my errand, walking slowly with a newfound distrust of friction. I picked up my milk and onions, which involved going to the other side of the store to grab a basket. When I checked out with my 5 items, I used the 15 items lane instead of the 8 items lane.

Sunday: Doldrums

"So it's all your fault, you and your onions. I almost died out there and to save myself I ended up molesting someone."

And then the lights dimmed for the evening and people kept ordering sandwiches and everything took on a surreal cast that I can't adequately describe. At some point the assistant manager tried to capture it.

He: "It's like I'm here... but I don't want to be."
Me: "I feel like I'm here, but I'm not entirely sure I am. It almost feels like a dream."

At one point the manager went out for a walk to clear his head. While he was out somebody ordered a breve. It was only through sheer luck that I had gotten curious the day before and asked what exactly a breve was (it's like a latte, except with half and half instead of milk). Moral: Pointless curiosity pays off.

Finally I ate a sanwich myself and everything returned to focus. I wonder that lately I experience hunger not as an emptiness in the stomach or a yearning on the tongue but as a cloudiness of the mind.

Sunday: Saint-Ex

After work we went over to the apartment of one of the assistant manager's friends, a woman who often hangs out with us at the Cafe and distracts us while we try to work. We eventually decided to head over to Cafe Saint-Ex, a new place that opened recently on the corner of 14th and T. With how often I walk down T Street, I'd watched every step of its gradual ansformation from a sleepy local tavern frequented mainly by local Salvadoran expats to the kind of trendy spot that simultaneously intrigued me, frightened me, and repulsed me.

This was my first time actually going inside.

As soon as I walked in I saw people I have never met but whom I immediately recognized-- fixtures at the local indie rock shows. We headed straight through the upstairs, the polished wood of which had always struck me as a tad too yuppie-ish (the last 2 1/2 years since I left the dot-com world, years spent trying to write a novel and, even less fruitfully, trying to play guitar like Andy Gill, have once again afforded me the privilege of using the term yuppie perjoratively) and downstairs to Gate 54 and suddenly my eyes were opened. This WAS my kind of place!

The atmosphere was hip but cozy, with signs and posters adorning the walls, comfy chairs all around, and a flatscreen tv on one of the walls showing one of the Our Man Flint movies. The music wasn't loud enough to overpower conversation, as it is in so many other places. Even though we found seats next to a stack of speakers, we didn't have to shout at each other. And the music...

Apparently Gate 54 allows djs to play no more than twice a month to keep things from getting stale. If the other djs are as good as the two spinning that Sunday, Saint-Ex could well become my new favorite place in the cosmos. Off the top of my head: The Jesus & Mary Chain, X-Ray Specs, Velvet Underground, The Fall, Gang of Four, and (as we were leaving) Lilliput.

The people watching was also quite good. As should come as little surprise (but surprised me anyway) Ian Svenonius, whose Logan Circle-area ubiquity is really quite astounding, made an appearance. There was also a very pretty girl there, whom I may have fallen ever-so briefly in love with, who was wearing a black and white horizontally striped off-the shoulder shirt (revealing some very sexy shoulders). Her jeans were white and her hair was black with a streak bleached white on one side of her bangs. The entire effect was very monochromatic gallo-mod, in a way that I couldn't help thinking of as post-Godardian (because I can be a bit of a pretentious twit when drunk). She ended up dancing with a friend of Ian's, whose aesthetic I could best describe as muted neo-New Romantic.

It was a good night, but the Manager decided he needed to go home, so we left before we could do any dancing (and before I could manage eye contact with mono-mod). As we left, I declared my undying love for the establishment, which probably means I'll quickly become jaded and decide it sucks...

(NOTE: What has actually happened is that I've been afraid to go into Saint-Ex since, for fear that it won't live up to my first experience and I'll be terribly disillusioned. Thank you for tuning in for another episode of "Isn't Bob Neurotic?" I've been your host, join us next time!)
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