So I'm at work and they're calling for backup to the cafe through my earpiece.
And let me just say this: all you people with your 'business' and your 'engineering' and your 'computer' 'science' degrees that come with 'actual paychecks'--do you get to look like an Undercover Super Spy when you're at work?
Yeah. Didn't think so.
So my friend is calling me--'Mountaineer, Mountaineer, do you copy? Come in Mountaineer' (I make them call me Mountaineer at work). And I don't know about you, but I didn't get into this line of work because I was willing to just abandon my sisters and brothers in arms in their times of need. 'No person left behind' is my motto and my creed. And I will be your sword and your shield. . .
. . . wait, where was I? Ok so it's a member of my Band of Siblings, if you will (note the gender neutral language? You like?) (I like). I can't let her down. So I rush to answer this call for 'back up' to the 'cafe' even though I've been working here for 20 months and still have no idea what a cafe 'is'.
Turns out in this cafe, every drink you might order--every drink imaginable, my friends, it's like Willy Wonka married the Starbucks siren and they popped out whipped cream children who will lure you with their glucose songs--every drink has a number that corresponds to them that you type into the register. This is how we force people to pay for their frenetic sugar babies.
Not gonna lie: we were really in the thick of things. Foam was flying, the queue was rumbling with mutinous energy, dishes were clattering into the sink like the clean-up after the Mad Hatter's tea party. Because I aim to be a hero I reminded myself that a hero keeps up morale and never says never. So while my comrade was calling out to me the drink numbers, I kept shouting things like: 'They cannot take our freedom!" and "We are just too pretty for God to let us die!" and 'For Frodo!" which was working really well until one of the customers was like "I said my name was Susan!".
Things quiet down. From the ruins of the battlefield I can hear a few fallen muttering and sipping and groaning but for the most part the bullet is dodged. So the last customer approacheth. He's being very patient about the fact that it's taking us so long to save his life--a British person maybe, quite all right and all that--so he observes me scanning the epically long list of numbers to find the one that corresponds perfectly to his drink order so that I might type it in, speak "Copy that" into my Black Ops gear and thus save the day, and he says: There must be a lot of numbers for you all to memorize.
Yeah, I say. And then I say:
It's my first time. Be gentle with me.
The words are out before I even have time to think. There was never any time to stop them.
This, this moment--this was always going to happen.
What to do? I glance around to see if anyone has overheard, by my comrade--bless her--is running the blender. No one else can hear us, which somehow serves to make this moment seem--intimate? There is nothing, nothing else in this world but me, this unsuspecting stranger, and the fact that I have just made a reference to us. Having First Time. Together.
Then--the blender goes quiet. The world is still. The battlefield sits scattered with the frail remnants of war. Crushed paper cups, disfigured straw wrappers all accordioned and rendered nearly unrecognizable, paper napkins fluttering in the steamer mist like children's hair in the snow. My comrade hunches, shoulders drooped and weary, over one final creation, her eyes glazed with the now-familiar milk lust I've seen on too many soldiers before. So many citizens. So many endless demands. It's changed us in ways we can't tell of. We aren't ready to, or maybe we don't even know. Not yet.
I collect my tiny microphone and into it I hear myself utter: I've been made.
What? he says.
What is left the survivors? A measly 43 cents. I reach out, my hand waiting to drop cold metal into his palm but somehow, this day, I'm reaching for so much more. I consider friendly replies. "Boy do you sure like your whipped cream!" I might say, or, "Sorry about the sex joke!". But this is one of those moments between two human beings in which no words feel right and so, none are necessary.
His hand is ready to receive my paltry offering. The change jingles in his palm, the sound strangely cheery, jarring now after everything we've been through, everything we've seen. He nods a little, eyes cast down, but--am I imagining it? A little something in his eyes, a certain knowing glow? We were two strangers, but yet. Something: fate, God, the desperate, random actions of man--I don't know what, I'm not willing to speculate, but something has brought us both here, to this place, on this day. We are knit together now, in a way I wasn't prepared for.
Something has changed, this day. I have been rendered into a thing made new. Made new by one double entendre, muttered in the heat of war.
I may never see him again. But I will always remember. That 43 cents, that inadvertent innuendo, the lusty smacking of the satiated lips and the air heady with espresso and cream all around us. The man with the medium quad, extra whip, 8 pump sugar fairy deluxaccino.
Hello. I am going to spend the weekend not worrying about what the hell I am supposed to do and instead nudging myself gently and lovingly in the way of positivity.
In short I intend to cowgirl up.
I would like to sincerely thank all of you who come here and read my blog. It means a great deal to me, and aw shucks. But I love you.
The Royal We are also re-opening the comments section because We think it just feels friendlier.
I am Vesuvius and So Say We All.