November 30, 2004

Good Boy

By Dave Simanoff © 2004

At eight o’clock in the morning, the line at the Starbucks on South Howard Avenue stretches from the cash register to the door. I stood about 20 spots away from the front of the line, behind a short skinny woman who was gushing loudly about President Bush into her cell phone.

“Oh yeah, I totally agree with the President,” she said. “It should totally be in the constitution. Homosexual marriage is totally wrong. It would totally ruin the institution of marriage.”

I wondered how long she could continue interjecting the word “totally” into every sentence. I counted. She said the word thirty-six times before she got to the front of the line, hung up and placed her order: some impossibly complicated coffee drink with low-fat milk and caramel. It was finally my turn to order. I pulled up to the counter next to Totally Girl and asked for a large coffee. That caught Totally Girl’s attention.

“That’s all you’re getting?” she asked me, incredulous. I didn’t know if she seemed surprised that someone would just order plain coffee at Starbucks, or if she just didn’t know that Starbucks sold anything that didn’t end in the letters –atte or –iato.

“You totally stood in line for like an hour, and that’s all you’re
getting?” she asked.

I nodded. In fact, the line at Starbucks moved quickly, thanks to the assembly line efficiency of the staffers behind the hissing espresso machine.

“That totally seems like such a waste,” she said.

I paused for a fraction of a second, wondering if I should say anything at all. Then I responded. “Perhaps there should be a constitutional amendment banning people from buying coffee in Starbucks.”

Her face went blank momentarily. Then she focused again as her expression clicked over from confusion to comprehension.

“You were totally listening to my conversation,” she said. “That’s so totally rude.”

“You were so totally loud,” I said, drawing out “totally” into three separate words: “toe,” “tall,” “lee.”

I continued: “I mean, if you’re going to yell into your cell phone like it’s a bullhorn, don’t get surprised when everyone else in line can hear you. People at other Starbucks can hear you. People at the original Starbucks, in Seattle, can hear you.”

Totally Girl opened her mouth, indignant, and started to talk. I cut her off.

“Deaf people can hear you. Dead people can hear you,” I said. Then, very slowly, from emphasis: “Gay people can hear you. And they think you’re a fucking idiot.”

I looked around. Everyone in Starbucks was staring at us. In the back of the room, one person began clapping. Then another. Then the guy behind me in line turned to Totally Girl and said: “He’s right, you know. You’re loud and you’re stupid. That’s always a bad combination.”

Totally Girl was shocked. She huffed, tucked her head into her chest, and stormed out of Starbucks without looking at anyone. The woman behind the counter handed over my coffee. She smiled at me.

“This,” she said. “is on the house.”

Dave Simanoff is a writer from Tampa, Florida. This is an excerpt from his NaNoWriMo novel Good Boy.

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