(Photo by pheezy/Flickr)
The other day I was at the coffee shop where I go to write when it dawned on me that I am not the typical Los Angeles coffee shop writer. Probably what differentiates me most from other coffee shop writers is the fact that I do not look like I hate my parents.
The typical female Los Angeles coffee shop writer wears a dress over her jeans, writes on a Mac, looks like she knows the names of bands I have never heard of and is proud of this fact. The typical male Los Angeles coffee shop writer wears an ironic shirt, writes on a Mac and takes phone calls every 10 minutes so he can tell his friend what he did the previous nine.
To complete the picture, I am dressed like I shop discount at a failing sporting goods store.
I write on a PC.
So there I am, sitting in a pub-style chair at the counter facing the front window, when this beat-to-hell late-1990s black sedan pulls up to the curb. Out of the car emerges a very large man. He is shaped exactly like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, except he has the square head of a Minnesota Twins pitcher from the 1970s.
I am fascinated. I don’t know why, but for some reason I am expecting magic. I feel like something is about to happen, something fantastic. The look on the big guy’s incredibly serious face reveals that he is about 45 percent crazy and the size of his body says, “Fuck if I care.” The shit is about to go down. At this moment I realize why I left the house today. It was so that I could be here to witness this man patronizing this coffee shop at this moment.
So the big fellow ambles in and gives the barista his order. I am pleased to learn he has the agitated basso profondo voice of a professional wrestler who is fighting the urge to overturn every table in the coffee shop. His anger and tension are palpable. I’m rapt.
He places his order.
He wants a sugar-free vanilla latte.
I’m like, “Yes, of course he does! What else would a fat man want? This is perfect. He is bringing such joy to my day of boring research. Thank you, big guy. I could not love you more.”
Then I glance over my shoulder and discover I am wrong. I could love him more.
Instead of ordering his drink at the counter like a normal person, the big guy sits in the middle of the room and shouts his order over the tops of people’s heads. He seated himself upon entry. Standing at the counter would wind the mighty giant. He has to conserve energy. He has to sit. And because he has to sit, he has to shout.
In addition to caffeinated beverages, the shop also serves sandwiches.
The big guy yells, “I want a sandwich.”
I’m giddy. My feelings at this moment are a mixture of Christmas morning and the moment the credits rolled on the final episode of The Wire. I felt like, “No matter what horror or shame befalls my life, I have this, right now, to hold onto, and it is good.”
Please, I thought, do not disappoint me, big guy. I want to love you forever. I want this moment to be pure.
“I want,” he thundered over the heads of the other patrons, “a turkey sandwich.”
“One turkey sandwich,” said the barista.
“And,” the big guy said, “I want heavy mayo.”
“You want extra mayo?” the barista asked.
“No,” the big guy boomed, clearly annoyed, “I want heavy mayo!”
“I like mayo, too,” the barista quietly replied in a tone so calm that one can only assume he trained for this exact situation in the hellish depths of a swampy North Carolina barista boot camp.
Then the big guy yelled, and for the love of all that I hold dear I am not making this up, “I want heavy mayo. I want so much mayo that I can feel my arteries harden and my heart stop beating while I’m eating it. You know what I’m saying?”
The barista knew what he was saying.
I was, well, not sexually, but I guess non-sexually aroused at this point, if that is possible. His voice, his words, his agitated state, it all added up. In his final demand I realized what the big guy was all about. I realized who he was. This was my true moment of joy.
For his whole life he has heard that he should eat less. He should stop drinking. He should not smoke. (I saw a pack in his shirt.) He should watch less television. He should play fewer video games. In other words, he should cease any activity that brings him joy because that activity is not good for him.
At some point a man gets tired of hearing no. He strikes back. He takes a stand. Sometimes that stand takes place inside a Los Angeles coffee shop filled with wussy writers. The man lets it be known to all within earshot that he will not heed society’s call for safe and joyless living. He publicly welcomes the harvester of death, the destroyer of worlds – the heavy mayo.
In a coffee shop filled with self-described radical thinkers, the proud fat man is the only true rebel.