I go to coffee shops regularly to keep my loathing of humanity at a low but consistent boil.
Yuppie urban-wanna-be regions, Pasadena for example, are excellent for this. I’m in a wood-beam and exposed aluminum piping hipster dream; there is a large neon sign, MOTEL NO VACANCY flickering on the wall above me, and I think that this is what it would feel like to be me playing Charles Bukowski playing himself in a romcom about Charles Bukowski playing me. “NO” flashes fluorescent red above my head.
Art in coffee shops. I love the art in coffee shops, I hate the art in coffee shops. It’s like in Ender’s Game when Ender is all “when one truly understands one’s enemy, then one cannot help but love them.” It feels to me like I bet Jesus feels like to a porn-obsessed Catholic—but Hate is my religion, and all things are an icon further inspiring my faith in Hate. I am Darth Vader the Supreme Hater, sitting in a café in Pasadena staring angrily at portraits all painted with the same shifty eyes staring back at me from all angles.
Exactly 18 of these portraits hang above a piano, where that guy everyone begrudgingly knows is seated in his tweed jacket over black t-shirt and relaxed fit jeans. He serenades the shop over top of the ambient Bon Iver, playing the same four chords and repeating the same six words over and over. He does this for 20 minutes, while his friends seated around him chat amiably, enjoying the redundant ambiance he creates. And then the piano opens, eats him, no one notices, everyone subsists in their own chat bubbles.
And then I feel something—my hate sense is tingling—somewhere nearby, someone is being a narcissist (other than me.) An old woman at an adjacent table, in her late sixties or early seventies. Innocent at a glance; they all are, in their mom-core jeans, sag-gut sweaters and cloven-hooved New Balance sneakers.
I catch snippets of conversation. Her counterpart, a scraggly goateed samurai, gets in very few words edgewise; this brutal geriatric maintains a consistent and sob-filled monologue.
“Every day was filled with pain,” sob sob sob, “I just had to struggle through it.” Sob sob sob. “I cried nearly every day for two months!” The samurai nods along, maintaining the calm demeanour of a warrior.
The denouement, my moment of zen for the day: she’s speaking to her obviously mute, hopefully deaf, discussion partner about seeing some play up in San Francisco, and, while crying, describes how she cried after seeing this show. And then, still sobbing, tears running down her face, exerting all the emotional pull she could muster:
“A lot of my friends say I’m an overly sensitive person.”
My vision blurs, my heart-rate slows, and I enter a nirvana-like state, my corporeal form is forgotten, my mind transported to a realm of pure hate where I ride on the shoulders of the great goddess Kali—in her incarnation as Heidi Klum, 80 feet tall, blue-skinned, sextuple-limbed—as she runs rampant through the many worlds, decapitating motherfuckers left and right.
After an eternity in a second, I return. I wipe the drool from my beard, my eyes regain their focus, they lock in on a portrait, the 35th portrait. It’s a portrait of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I am that T-rex.
I return some days later, and the T-rex has been sold.