Yesterday while I was at Starbucks, a girl sat next to me. We sat at one of the perimeter bars along a window. She pulled out one of those NYC tourist guides. I didn’t think too much of it, because anybody could buy those and not be a tourist. A few minutes later a friend of hers sat next to her. They talked in a foreign language, and I wasn’t paying enough attention to try recognizing what they spoke. They chatted quietly, minding their own business, clearly stopping in a chain coffee shop for a pick-me-up. Then, out of the blue a few seats down from me, a guy’s voice asked, “Would you ladies like some wine?” I automatically assumed he’s not talking to me, gripped my pen extra-tightly and concentrated enough to levitate my journal from the counter if I wanted to. (I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself.)
The girls looked at each other, like, wha? and asked, “You have wine?” Then the guy sneakily reached into his bag and partly pulled out a bottle. Then he held up his cup. This man was pretty far gone. He was young. Red hair, baseball cap. Fiddling around on his iBook.
Then, all of a sudden, he got loud. He must have detected a foreign accent. “IT DOESN’T EVEN LOOK LIKE WINE, DOES IT? ALL IT NEEDS IS FOOD COLORING. YEAH, THAT’S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT FRANCE, I CAN KEEP AN OPEN CONTAINER AND NOT GET IN TROUBLE. I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING ARRESTED.”
The girls nodded. The guy asked, “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”
The girls said, “Switzerland.”
“SO YOU SPEAK FRENCH?”
“YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH? WHAT ABOUT ROMANE?”
“WHAT LANGUAGE DO YOU SPEAK?”
“YOU DON’T SPEAK ROMANE? [Aren’t you SO impressed I even know about Romane?] DON’T YOU KNOW FRENCH?”
“We took it in school, so we know a little.”
“SO YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH. HOW ABOUT ROMANE?”
“Just German.” They started toward the door. They had tickets for some show out and ready. They were ready to go, like 3 minutes ago, before Mr. Look-at-Me-Pretending-Not-to-Drink-Wine-and-Hit-on-Foreign-Women started chatting those girls up at a volume where everyone in the Starbucks felt included. I felt for them.
“ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS LIVES IN SWITZERLAND. OH, HEY, HEY. YOU LADIES TAKE CARE. HAVE A FUN TIME IN AMERICA.”
They left. He withdrew back into his iBook, like some bipolar gigolo turtle.
Then I took a few notes in my journal. Then I transcribed them here.