Clip Clip Clip went her nail clippers in front of me.
Bang Bang Bang went his cell phone next to me.
I sat in the middle of Whole Foods on Bowery Street, sipping a Jamba Juice, transfixed by atrocities in public decorum.
STOP STOP STOP! Is this seriously happening?
The seating area in this Whole Foods is expansive but often crowded. After purchasing my Pumpkin Smash smoothie (sure to end its seasonal run any day now), I was pleased to find a comfortable spot available. A couch in their cafe seating area, surrounded by a couple of potted plants. The man on my left was nose deep in a serious looking book, the woman on the other end of the couch pouring over her cell phone. I sat down, opened my laptop, and figured I’d get some good writing done.
Lost in ideas, typical parentheticals, striving for witty quips, I was totally successful. So immersed I didn’t even notice the woman I was sharing my couch with get up and leave. I was close to two paragraphs when my peaceful writing sanctuary burst.
“I just downloaded games all day! I keep downloading these games. Don’t know what I’m doing with my life but I got all these games,” a man spoke loudly as he piled bags and coats onto the couch I was sitting on. It sounded like he was muttering to himself, but I looked up and saw he was accompanied by a woman. She wasn’t contributing much to the conversation though. “Motherfuckers keep getting me downloading this shit.”
You don’t expect M-F bombs at Whole Foods. Okay, maybe if you told a Whole Foods shopper that you prefer your eggs caged and your produce pesticide riddled. Maybe then you’d expect a shake of the head, a muttering of, “You’re a crazy motherfucker to not eat only organic strawberries.” Even then chances are the “motherfucker” would not be spoken aloud, just crystal clear in subtext.
I was jarred by the casual and continual use of such language, but this in NYC, it wasn’t enough to make me get up and leave my comfy seat. They’ll settle down, shut the fuck up, and the conducive-to-creativity atmosphere will resume. I was optimistic. This is NYC, a place I’ve called home for six years, and I’m still naive enough to be optimistic.
As soon as the man ceased uttering explosive language he was on his phone, playing a game with violent explosive sounds. You don’t play games with the sound on in public in this town. You just don’t do it. With 8 million people on such a small land mass, there’s just no space for this kind of thing. Everyone knows it, nobody does it. Except this weird motherfucker I was stuck sharing a couch with in Whole Foods.
The woman spoke, “Honey, do you want some tea? Are you hungry? Anything?”
“No I’m good,” came the reply over a round of machine gun sound effect. Up until this point I had only listened, trying to force myself back into my computer, away from distraction. From everything I had overheard of their interaction, it was clear these people were a couple. When I looked up I was surprised. She was kind of dumpy, looked maybe a decade older than him. He wasn’t bad looking, probably in his late 30s. He wore a baseball cap, she wore wire rimmed glasses. When she opened her mouth I looked up and noticed she had teeth missing.
She removed herself to a chair across from him, made herself comfortable while he stayed glued to his game. I settled back into my writing. Hooray.
Again I was a fool to hope. Because then this happened. Clip, Clip, Clip.
I looked up. She was sitting, a nail clipper pulled out on a key chain, clipping her fingernails.
In the middle of Whole Foods. In the middle of New York City. Even the few people who are jerks about turning off their cell phone sound don’t do that.
I had to laugh. My mind jumped immediately to, “This bitch has a boyfriend and I don’t!?” Hey, it gives you hope right? There’s someone for everyone goes the cliché. Boy does this story illustrate just that. I fully intend to use it at Thanksgiving dinner if my relationship status enters into the conversation. What I’m not sure is how exactly I’ll use it. Should I go with:
A. “See? There’s someone for everyone! I just haven’t found him yet! The guy who will love my quirks (which are so much better than public nail clipping!)!”
B. “SEE? PEOPLE IN NYC ARE CRAZY! THAT’S WHY I’M SINGLE.”