Because I am the world’s flakiest patriarchy-blaming blogger, I forgot to post the note alerting the World of Blame that I would be taking an extended coffee break for a few days. As a matter of fact, I’m still off duty, but that won’t stop me from live-blogging a cup of coffee from Flipnotics, the South Austin coffeespace at one of the rickety patio tables of which I at this moment crouch, swigging with my swigger while attempting to stabilize the crazily lurching writing surface with a flipflopped foot. My lack of success in the latter endeavor has resulted in most of my coffee sluicing across the table, endangering the lives of a couple of ants.
Since I have been here, which is about 10 minutes, I have had three conversations. The first was with the barrista, whose enthusiasm for making my single-shot Americano dissipated entirely when I revealed that I wanted it with more water than is allowable by law.
The second was with a nodding acquaintance who was rummaging through a first aid box. She dabbed at a red spot on her stomach.
“Pox?” I asked.
She explained that she was rendering triage to “some kind of spider bite” which she had just “popped” on the advice of a coworker with experience in such matters.
“If that thing turns black,” I said, ever helpful with the unsolicited medical advice, “you’d better buzz off to the ER.” For when it comes to the flesh-eating venom of deadly spiders, I am not without a lively imagination.
My remark was to her the equivalent of dunking a madeleine in a cup of lavender tea. Nostalgia for Gangrenous Spider Bites Past flooded her. Her exterior glowed with an expression of fondest remembrance.
“Last summer,” she reminisced, “I was sittin’ on the porch when all of a sudden my foot really hurt. It swelled up really huge and turned really red. The hole was this big” — here she described with thumb and forefinger a gaping wound with the diameter of a Kennedy half-dollar — “and it was all purulent* and oozing and disgusting. It took about three weeks to go away. I still have a scar.”
I could think of no good reply to this repellent idyll, so I just said “eew.”
The third conversation was with a wild-haired dude with eyes that went in different directions. I knew what was coming when he lurched toward me, because once I was a bartender for 13 years. Consequently I can tell, from the nature of a guy’s lurch, whether he is about to be lewd, or puke on my shoes, or make a sales pitch, or emit an incoherent mutter of schizo poetry, or ask me for money.
This one would ask for money. Did I have some change for “a refill”? I said it probably wouldn’t kill me to give him a dollar. He regarded me disinterestedly while I fumbled for the dough. I was relieved, when our business was concluded, that he did not attempt to suck up with any of that grateful godblessing palaver that so often accompanies these transactions. He gave me two extremely satisfying looks of disdain — one from each eye — and lurched away in no particular direction.
*Actually, she did not say “purulent.” She said “pus-y,” but that word does not, for some reason, exist in written English.