I've had a lot going on this last couple of weeks, both workwise and otherwise, so I haven't had much time for the ol' blog lately.
But, as an aspiring writer and trained observer, I've been taking notes of incidents and people in day-to-day situations, sort of like David Attenborough (one of whose documentaries I'm watching at this very moment) only with humans.
The David Attenborough thing, in case you're interested, is about tigers.
But anyhow, given my recent experience and the reaction of certain individuals, it occurred to me that there are a million stories in the naked (well, t-shirt and shorts-wearing) city, and so here's a few of them.
There's a coffee shop across the street from where I work. It's a takeout place - you put in your order at the door and pay, then move down the line and collect it, do what you want to it and leave.
It's a simple but lucrative operation; the coffee is excellent, costs less than Starbucks and, because Butler's (that's the name) runs it as a sideline to their even more-lucrative chocolate-making business, the price includes a chocolate of your choice to enjoy with your coffee - as you can imagine, it's a popular stop for people on their way to work.
Anyhow, I got there one morning last week and there was this guy in the queue ahead of me. Mid-forties, tall, someone else's hair, he wore a beige (who invented that, anyway? It's not even a real colour...) suit, expensive-looking if I'm any judge, and had a phone jammed in his ear.
The girl in front of him ordered her coffee and took a little more time than he liked picking out her chocolate - he hopped from one foot to the other while he talked to the person on the other end of the phone about where he saw the project timetable going.
The barista, a quiet young woman, handed the customer her chocolate and turned to Phoneboy. This is how it went:
Phoneboy: "And the projections - Capuccino - have to be in by Friday or else."
Barista: "-" No chance to say anything as Phoneboy throws (really!) coins on the counter. No 'please', no hand-to-hand transfer of money, no acknowledgment of her existence. She rings up the sale, makes change and gestures towards an array of chocolate that would - well, let's just say it's impressive and leave it at that.
Phoneboy, annoyed at being interrupted, glares and makes a dismissing gesture so sharply it has a sound effect (Col. Rhombus saluting, 'Spies Like Us'). Do we hate this guy yet?
But back to our story.
I get to the counter, bid Magda a 'Good morning', ask for an Americano, politely decline (I'm lactose-intolerant) chocolate, hand over my money and move along.
Phoneboy's talking about cost-benefit analyses or something and I wonder whether he knows his stupid voice is carrying.
The girl in front of him gets her low-fat latté, puts the lid on, says 'Thank you' and leaves. Phoneboy moves to the front of the queue and waits, still talking. It's about five to seven minutes since I walked in and he's scarcely taken a breath.
Anyway, a cup is placed on the counter.
"Capuccino?" calls the barista, looking around for the owner. No reaction from Phoneboy, and I'm damned if I'm gonna help him out.
"Capuccino," the barista calls a second time. Nothing.
A girl in the queue behind me pipes up.
"I ordered a capuccino," she smiles. I step aside and let her through. Phoneboy's talking about quarterly projections now. Capuccino Girl fixes her coffee the way she wants it and leaves.
"That'll be mine," I grin, taking it and stepping past Phoneboy, for whom the penny is about to drop. I thank her, pick it up, go through the ritual, and start to leave.
"Hot chocolate, marshmallows?"
"Er, I ordered a capuccino?" says Phoneboy, suddenly realising he's missed his call.
I'm laughing as I leave...
The tigers are having great fun. They're four months old and still playing, innocent of the real world. One of them looks like Calvin's best friend Hobbes. They're trying to hunt a deer, but they haven't the first clue how to. Tigers 0, Deer 1.
So I'm on the bus, heading for my writing class, when this guy sits in the seat behind me. He takes out a phone and calls someone.
This is his side of the conversation:
"It's me, yeah?"
"No, I got a call from Karen today - she wants the job, she just doesn't want to take phone calls from the public - at all."
"Yeah, I know it's weird, yeah? But she wants a perfect job, y'know?"
"No, I'm going to a wedding next Saturday with herself, yeah? I wanted to go to the Leinster match, but you know how it is."
"Yeah - I could probably slip away for a couple of hours and not be noticed..."
"No, you're probably right - that's one of the things I really like about me - I'm so easy to get along with."
"Yeah right, see ya..."
Okay, that's just bizarre.
The tigers are about a year old now and really learning to hunt - there's gonna be some - yep, there goes a gazelle...
I went with my nephew to the video store to return his rentals and pick out a new movie. He decides on 'The Golden Compass' and we get in line to pay.
There's a man behind us with his two-year-old daughter, and an unshaven, fortyish guy wearing sandals ahead of us at the counter with some sort of Corgi cross-breed on an elastic leash. The dog seems amiable enough and sniffs around, but frightens the infant and jumps up, wanting to play.
Daddy asks Dogboy to restrain the dog. Dogboy says the dog means no harm and lets it run about.
Daddy: "But dogs aren't allowed in here and it's frightening my daughter."
Dogboy (smugly): "I've been coming here for ages and there's been no trouble."
Daddy: "That's not the point. Restrain your dog, please."
Dogboy: "Why don't you just grow a pair, you emasculated pussy? You don't know who you're talking to, maybe you should watch what you're saying to me."
Dogboy: "You've probably been in an apron so long you don't know what it's like to be a man."
Dogboy: "What has she, got your balls in a vice?"
General silence, until the video store clerk, confused and visibly shocked by the display, offers
"Now now, there's no call for that sort of thing..."
Dogboy: "Well then, you can take your videos and stick them where the sun don't shine!"
And he slams the DVDs (can't help wondering what they were) on the counter, takes his creature and leaves, mumbling to himself...
One of the tigers, by the way, has brought down his first deer (helped by Mom), and wants to keep it for himself.
Mom forces him to share with the other kids, though, so that's okay.