It had been a long time since I’d been to Cafe Coco. The last time I went was soon after I returned from England, and, re-acclimating to driving in the U.S., I gave a couple pedestrians some heart attacks when I nearly bowled them over. Long story. So, combined with a mad rush to avoid having my car clamped for illegally parking somewhere, I kind of wrote Cafe Coco off as The Place Where Pedestrians Are Run Down Like In Highlander, and hadn’t returned.
But then it came time to meet up with a friend of mine, and, since the cute barista I could never talk to was gone from the 21st Avenue Starbucks, I decided to mix it up a bit.
The cafe is in a two-story house off Ellington Parkway, just down the street from Baptist Hospital and Centennial Park. The street’s a pretty cool area, a hodgepodge hookah bars, sushi places, steak places, and a Tea Party-affiliated bookstore. (I walk by the place and tend to hiss.)
By virtue of being near Vanderbilt and the Park, it attracts a wide variety of people. I’ve seen everyone from Hasidim to Ed Hardy-bedecked club-goers there. And now, I understand just what a “wide and diverse clientele” means.
See, I showed up a little earlier than I’d intended. Luckily, I brought my handy-dandy European Carry-All and a book I’m reading for a review. So I went inside, ordered a coffee from the bartender, and went back outside to the porch. I can deal with humidity, as long as there’s something to keep my mind off of it. If nothing else, The Dewey Decimal System is engrossing enough to keep me from thinking about all of the water I’m sweating out of my body.
So I sat down in a chair on the porch, cracked open the book, and started reading. That didn’t last long.
Behind me, there was a group of guys in their late twenties. One of them talked much louder than the others. He was the sort of broadcasting-type of person who is really, really enthusiastic about every day minutiae. And it was at this point that the crazy really started.
Understand, first, that I try to be really non-judgmental. I’ve smoked pot a few times, but it’s never gotten me anything but a severe headache and a strong desire for a beer, so I never got into things like Phish or urgent trips to Taco Bell. That, however, is the hardest drug I’ve done. (Unless we’re counting the possibly unhealthy amount of caffeine I regularly ingest. But let’s not.)
I know people who’ve had rough times and decided, for one reason or another, to leap towards hard drugs. It’s not for me, but I know they’ve had their reasons, and more importantly, decided that coke isn’t nearly the best way to figure life out. (Strange, I know, but there must be something about wanting to leap on life and hump it to death that strikes them as odd.)
All that said, hearing this guy was hilarious. When I started paying attention, the guy was talking about how he just got hit with a massive probationary sentence (didn’t catch what that meant) for dealing coke. This meant, of course, that while he wasn’t messing with that stuff right now, he sure as hell spent a lot of time stoned out of his gourd on pot.
At this point, the other members of his group took over the conversation. They were speaking at normal volumes, so I didn’t hear anything and went back to reading. A couple chapters later, I was hit with the following, and started frantically texting everything to a friend of mine.
“Dude, fuck cicadas. I fucking hate those things.”
“I shit you not, man, I woke up yesterday and my fucking car was covered in the little motherfuckers. Freaked me the fuck out to see them crawling all over the fucking thing. Fuck them, man. Fucking bugs. You know they live underground or some shit? Then there’s a breed of wasp that lives on em. Man, they’re flying shrimp. I bet their protein content’s gotta be off the fucking chart.”
“That’s the last fucking thing I’d want to see in a fucking trip, man. Bunch of cicadas swarming a son of a bitch, diving at cars and shit? Fuck that. Fucking insects. Man, you know they gotta be aliens.”
Oh, for an auditory reference: This guy sounded like a cliched surfer dude.
At this point, one of the other guys asked him a question and my new friend said:
“No, seriously. There’s no way those fucking things are from Earth, dude. They had to be planted here by aliens or some shit. I saw a documentary about ants once, man. There’s no way those things are from Earth. The ones in the Amazon? They’re called army ants, man. No way.”
Needless to say, I found it really hard not to burst into laughter this entire time. I could tell that the guy was looking around the porch frantically (might have been a nervous tic, or he might have been watching for alien scouts), so I also had to hide my furious texting. Having never tried to do that in college, this was my first time. And it was exhilerating.
But the joy wasn’t over yet. A tall man, swarthy-skinned in complexion, sauntered out of the inside portion of the cafe. He was tall, around six-three if I had to guess, had close-cropped hair, a goatee, wore dark jean and an Ed Hardy black shirt with a ridiculous gold pattern.
Initially, I thought that the guy might be okay. He sat down at a table near mine and, loudly, asked if everyone would be cool with him smoking. “That’s nice,” I thought to myself.
“Cause, you know,” he said, “I know what Bill Hicks said about smoking. You guys know what he said?” he asked no one in particular. “Light em the fuck up.”
Well, hey, at least the guy knows Bill Hicks. Funny dude. Well, was a funny dude.
Anyway, after that there was a period of relative silence. The guy behind me started listening to his friends more than talking, and I got some more reading done.
As Dewey Decimal was offered a difficult choice, Ed Hardy decided to hit on a girl in a sundress.
She sat at a table with a friend, who’d just went inside. The girl wore a red-and-yellow dress. She was tall, blonde, and attractive in a nice girl sort of way. She sat at a table about six yards away from Ed Hardy. Ed decided to treat this as if he were shouting across the Gulf of Fucking Mexico.
And this is how he decided to do it. (NOTE: This isn’t exactly verbatim, and the girl’s responses might not be right either. Didn’t have my laptop with me, and the keyboard on my phone is too tiny for me to acceptably pound. [That’s what she said.])
“You know how there are going to be a shitload of cicadas this year?”
“Cicadas, the bugs that come out of the ground.”
“I’ve got a plan. I’m going to capture a bunch of them, you know? Then I’m going to put em in an aquarium and breed them. Families of them. But then you know that they live underground for twelve years, so I’ll probably have to put them underground at some point. I don’t know how to do that.”
“Oh,” said the girl, “that sounds interesting.”
“Yeah. On my facebook wall, there’s a picture of a cicada coming out of its shell. It’s fucking disgusting. But I think I could sell them if I start breeding them.”
“Yeah. You know that there’s going to be a drought in three weeks? It’s going to be fucking horrible. No water. We’re hitting it now, you know. 90 degree days. That’s how it starts. Gets hot and then there’s no rain for a while. This drought is going to be terrible. Society’s going to collapse. I’m getting the fuck out of the country.”
“Probably a good idea.”
“You know Texas is going through a drought? Same with Egypt. Egypt’s going through a drought, but no one’s reporting it because there’s political shit going on. Egypt and Texas are on opposite sides of the world, what’s that tell you? When it hits everywhere, there’s going to be fucking chaos. And I’m getting the fuck out of the country.”
“Where are you going?”
“Manchester, England. It’s in Sussex or Wessex or some shit. Small city, I think. I’m wealthy.”
“Are you? What do you do?”
“I have a bank account. I’m going to get paid to go around with a bank account. No, I mean facebook’s paying me for a program that they’re going to use, and it’s going to be a shitload of money, so I’m just going to go to Manchester to talk to people on the street about charities. Try to get them to donate. Nothing major. Just walking around with a bank account.”
“That sounds interesting.”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t need to do it. I’m part of a family that controls things, like power. We’ve got a lot of money, but I don’t want to deal with any of that shit right now. I just want to leave it behind, you know? It’s hard. See, the world is controlled by cabals. Eleven of them. And we control the cabals.”
“The Jews are one of the cabals. They control the wealth. My family are Jews and I’m Jewish, so my money controls money, like banks. The Bilderbergs are another group, but I’m tired of it all. I’m just going to write it all off, and go abroad, and come back and change the way the banking system works.”
“Oh, really?” she asked, nodding with the reassuring air one gives to a madman. “Well, good luck with that.”
“We need it.” The man paused. “So, you know my friend Dre? He’s a pretty big deal. Guy’s so fuckin wealthy it’s ridiculous. I’m his bodyguard, because I don’t need money, but he pays me anyway, so I’m around to make sure no one tries to kick his ass or anything. Anyway, Dre and me showed up here the other night with just a shitload of money.”
“Rolled up in a $200,000 car and pulled up across the street and came in here and Dre got so fucking drunk that the people inside called the cops on us and the cops came up and tried to get us to leave. All because we had a lot of money with us and people didn’t like that.
“So you know, we left, but we could have bought the place right the fuck out from under them. Dre could have done it on the spot, but he didn’t want to. Wouldn’t have hurt him at all, though.”
“But the Cafe owns this place.”
“No they don’t. The government owns this place.”
“The government owns this place.”
“No they don’t. Cafe Coco owns it.”
“But the government owns the land. You can’t have property without the government, everyone knows that. I could have bought this place right then, but then I would have had to sign a contract.”
“I don’t think Cafe Coco would have let you buy it.”
“They would have if I’d offered one or two million. That wouldn’t even be a big deal, not even kidding. I’ve spent more at a time. See, I stay up at night when a lot of people are asleep. I don’t have to work, so I get to sleep at, like seven, wake up at three, and then start going out and just laughing at everyone who’s working.”
“So you’re nocturnal.”
“Yeah, I guess. I just like staying up at night.”
“What’s the longest you’ve stayed awake?”
“Three days. No. Four. Four days. I thought I was going to go nuts. The walls started melting and shit, I shit you not. That might have just been because I was on crystal meth, though.”
“You stayed up four days on crystal meth?”
“Yeah. Only did it once. That was about the time that they took me to a mental institution and started doing a shitload of tests on me to see how I think and then I died.”
“Yeah. I died and came back and now I’m not afraid of death, because I’ve been dead.”
“But you’re right here.”
“Yeah, I left my ghost in the hospital bed. God help anyone who sleeps there, cause that fuckin thing is haunted.”
“What did they do to you in the hospital?”
“Bill Clinton was at the hospital?”
“No, he wasn’t there. It was a camera.”
“There was a camera showing you Bill Clinton.”
“No. See, they hooked me up to this machine that was connected to a blue and green grid, right? And they’d ask me questions and then look at how the grid lit up. And there was a camera recording everything and there was a name on it and the name was Bill Clinton.”
“Oh, I see.”
And it was about that time that my friend showed up.
I can’t say anything about the rest of the guy’s ramblings, because I was trying to recount my trip to Boston, but I do know that the guy went on for a long damn time. Eventually, the girl’s friend came back out onto the porch, and the two left.
Afterwards, the guy spent about three hours stalking around the porch, latching on to different groups and talking at them. Never did pop up next to my table, though.
I guess it’s because he knew I was Jewish, and thus knew everything he had to say.