Coffee Shop Girl

by Mitchell Harding

5/7/99

"Have we had this conversation before?"
"No." (A lie)
"I've been having the strangest feeling that we had."
"I know."
A disquieting pause.
"So tell me about the ugly pants man."
"We went out a few times."
"Past tense?"
"We broke up. It wasn't strictly the ugly pants that did it."
"I see."
"We're friends now."
Another pause.
"Are you sure we haven't had this conversation before?"
"Fairly."
"This is like a dream."
"I know."
Another pause.
"Is fungus an animal?"
"No."
"I didn't think so."
"It isn't a plant either. It has its own kingdom."
The coffee arrives.
"That guy keeps looking at me."
"Which one?"
"Ben Folds Five t-shirt."
"So he does."
"It's creepy."
"Yeah."
Drink the coffee.
"I hate caffeine headaches."
"Me too."
"Do you have one?"
"No. You?"
"No."
"Ben Folds Five is staring at you again."
"Great."
"He's obsessed."
"Story of my life."
"Great beauty is not without its disadvantages."
Finish the coffee.
"I feel like Cinderella."
"Elaborate."
"I spent so much time sweeping."
"Someone has to clean the coffee shop."
"Does it have to be me?"
"Yes."
"And does Ben Folds Five have to watch me?"
"Yes."
"It would be less eerie if he hadn't been here for almost five hours."
"Relish it."
"What?"
"It is a mystery."
"So?"
"Mysteries make life exciting."
"I suppose so."
"It's true. I wish I knew more secrets. I wish my experiences were more mysterious. I want things to be magical and fantastic and strange. My life is dull. I'm trying to get you to appreciate the novelty of this experience so I can enjoy it vicariously."
"You're nuts."
"You don't like mystery?"
"This guy is no mystery -- he wants to ask me out and is too shy to do so. But he secretly hopes that I'll ask him out. He watches me and wills me to do it. Every time I glance at him he takes it as encouragement. But he'll never confront me. So I end up with a creepy guy staring at me. Mystery solved."
"You have no romantic imagination."
"This scenario loses its charm when you've lived it as often as I have."
"Kick destiny in the ass. Mix things up. Go talk to him."
"I understand your desire to romanticize this, but it doesn't work that way."
"Why are you so hung up on the way things have to be? Are you that jaded?"
"Yes. With reason."
"No reason is good enough to justify your mindset."
"When Ben Folds starts staring at you, deal with it in any way you like. You'll learn."
"I'm tired."
"Me too. Same time tomorrow?"
"Of course."
Brief pause.
"You're sure we haven't had this conversation before?"
"Quite."

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