Barista’s Daily Grind—artsy coffee shop, money-sucking void, and preferred meeting place for Kearney’s intellectual elite. Rachael and I meet once a week for soy lattes, although lately I have been ordering Mexican mochas. My stomach hurts from the ulcer that had been in remission since June. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast, and my stress level is on the rise. Low rumbles in my stomach and gurgling acid alert me that this is no time for lactose and caffeine, but as the Mexican mocha slides down my throat, I refuse to listen. Rachael samples her soy latte, finds it exceptional, and smiles with coffee-filmed front teeth, characteristic of good coffee.
We don’t like the silence in our booth, so Rachael asks me about the week, and I divulge my favorite story about how I cried at Target. I love the drama of this rather pathetic and story about my anxiety getting the better of me as I stood in red and khaki, humiliated. I pepper the story with hand gestures and exaggerations that elicit sympathetic laughs from my listener. Rachael changes the subject to her family—namely, to her mother, whose recent bouts of paranoia (it’s not paranoia if they are actually out to get you) have been weighing heavily on Rachael’s psyche. I chime in with a quick story (that I draw out for emphasis) about my own mother’s recent confessions.
The thing about Mexican mochas is that they are so dang cinnamon-y. My teeth are coated in an unnervingly thick slime that I’m sure stains my teeth with a rusty sheen. The cinnamon on my lips feels warm as I tell about my weekend escapades, but I am all too aware that everyone who works at Barista’s knows (and loves) my “gentleman caller.” Awareness notwithstanding, I let loose a few intimate details that I’m sure can be heard across the room. Rachael and I are dangerous in that way: we like to talk about sex and gossip about mutual acquaintances in voices that are too loud to be ignored.
Her most recent trials and tribulations with LSAT practice exams (along with a re-cap of this summer’s scores) are starting to bore me, so I ask about her daughter. I am then flooded with information about her daughter’s infatuation with boobs, Jesus, and playing teacher. My beverage is cooled now, but not going down easily because of the strong resistance from my digestive system.
I throw away my cup in a container I’ve always assumed to be a trashcan, though no proof exists outside of an occasional “thank you” from a barista. Rachael and I part ways and reluctantly rejoin the world outside Barista’s.