An experiment: three cups of coffee, one muffin and one cookie. And a pipe.

15 Mar

Oooooh Panera, how I adore thee. You have a large parking lot, filled with SUVs that mask my presence inside a tiny hatchback, engaging in illicit behaviors. There’s one of you in nearly every town, and you all have wi-fi. You also offer free refills on coffee (I think. If you don’t, sorry, I didn’t know), delicious vegetarian options, muffins, cookies… comfy seats one can almost fall asleep in, but not. You have Brazilian cooks that speak amongst themselves in Portuguese, thinking I don’t understand what they’re saying. It is true that you have child-proof thingies on every outlet, but it’s OK; I was only embarrassed once, and learned how to operate them from then on out.

I’ve caught a glimpse of the future, thanks to you. I saw myself as one of the elderly in mid-day café gatherings, sporting my very own distinguished-old-person hat, laughing quietly at the 30-something middle manager guy who pretends to listen to his dull boss while he’s really taking peeks at the cute girl who may or may not be slightly intoxicated while staring at her laptop for hours, enjoying the day off courtesy of a little plumbing issue at the office.

Thanks to you, Panera, the soundness of my “sorry, mom, I don’t think there will be any grandkids for you from me” position is reaffirmed. The mother of two who can’t get any reading done because the little ones haven’t mastered a fork just yet is a reminder that dogs make better babies for me. I’d hate to give my child salmonella for feeding it milk in a dirty bottle. Is that possible? I don’t know, but it’s one more thing I’d have to learn before deciding to sign up for many hours of agony and vaginal stretching followed by a lifetime of extra responsibilities.

You provide me with peaceful space to people-watch, eat, put my feet up and think about Mark Twain quotes, such as:

The difference between a perfect word and a near-perfect word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

About 60% of the time, most people would agree that Mark Twain was right like, all the time – this is no exception.  Carefully chosen words have helped me connect with many minds, enter different worlds, feel a myriad of emotions, and have been the tool for sharing my own. Reading and writing never get boring. Sometimes I do, though. Sometimes there’s no juice left to be squeezed out of my foamy brain; then I’m forced to recount the time I fabricated a story to make up for my lack of real-life excitement.

It was an eighth grade statewide writing contest;  students were informed that whatever they came up with in the next thirty minutes would have to be the basis for contest entry. I always loved writing. I just didn’t enjoy being forced to do it.

Does it have to be the truth?

No, I guess it doesn’t.

Awethome. While everyone blabbed away about soccer tournaments that changed their lives, I decided that to win, I’d have to give these common people a little sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. I was tired of using the immigrant card and I didn’t trust the white judges to pick the is-she-hispanic-if-not-what-is-she kid. Inspired by my viewing of Christiane F., I made up a story about suffering through a close cousin’s battle with heroin addiction. In shocking detail, I recounted unreal tales of discovering her passed out on the bathroom floor and finding condoms in her backpack – she was only 12 at the time. Ooooh!

I like to think that it was my writing – my careful word choice – that brought these silly people along for that roller-coaster ride. That and maybe the fact I gave them a happy ending of a recovered and back-in-school adolescent fighting to salvage her innocence. When word got around that I was a semi-finalist, I, the immigrant kid with an accent, was hounded by my white peers for details on my cousin’s sleazy affairs.

Oh, I made it up. I couldn’t think of anything to write about, so I made it up. They said I could.

My English teacher asked me after class if it was true that I’d made up the story. I confirmed. I wasn’t reprimanded for it, but I didn’t win either. Some other kid did, just because he wrote about a Jewish grandfather who fought in the war. Yawn. And stupid me; I should’ve lied to everyone or at least gone with an embellished version of my hard times as an immigrant with too much coca-cola and candy at my disposal.


11 Responses to “An experiment: three cups of coffee, one muffin and one cookie. And a pipe.”

  1. sami Alam March 15, 2010 at 18:05 #

    it was a wonderful time i was passing when i was reading this blog…. really great work…

    visit mine & post your valuable comments….

    i think you will like it!!!

  2. Martin March 15, 2010 at 18:11 #

    There’s such a thing as “vaginal stretching?” Yet another reason why it would be harder to be a woman…

    • Juliana March 15, 2010 at 18:23 #

      oh you have no idea. google “vagina surgery after baby.” or don’t… it’s up to you.

      • Martin March 15, 2010 at 18:24 #

        ‘Aint falling for that one.

  3. Barbara March 15, 2010 at 19:27 #

    I really want Panera now 🙂

  4. Sean March 15, 2010 at 23:46 #

    don’t do it Martin!

  5. fallingfromprams March 16, 2010 at 00:08 #

    I love Panera and creative children. Too bad you weren’t in my 8th grade English class. 😉

  6. inna March 16, 2010 at 08:36 #

    that’s some good lol-ing in the office first thing in the morning material (typing that out just feels wrong now).
    there is no panera in nyc 😦
    happy birthday!!!!!

    • Juliana March 16, 2010 at 10:53 #

      pfft. panera pales in comparison to all NYC has to offer.
      zenk you! can’t wait to celebrate under the sun with all of ya’ll next week 🙂

  7. Amanda West March 17, 2010 at 12:15 #

    Awesome post. I’ve often wondered if I could give up so much for children myself…

    Loved your funny ending. I used to make up stuff to write about in grade school too.

    • Juliana March 17, 2010 at 20:03 #

      yeaaa. they’re cute, though. i really like other people’s babies.
      that’s what kids are supposed to do! be creative and make shit up!

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