I am out and about town! I just finished a five-dollar bowl of microwaved cheese grits (I heard the beeper go off so I know they were microwaved) and although I like it here at this tiny red-walled cafe with its blotchy free internets and debilitating quiet and outdated “Look I’m A Hipster” playlists (read: Neutral Milk Hotel and “vintage” Radiohead AKA “The Bends” album), I can’t help but lament the loss of 3Cups, which moved months ago all the way ‘cross town.
At 3Cups, you’d order a press pot of exotic coffee and they’d give you a little stainless steel sand timer so you’d know when to press the plunger down. You could set up shop in the corner with your MacBook and your press pot of something you couldn’t pronounce, and watch boys in Independent sweatshirts and Burberry scarves and chain wallets pretend to read alarmingly difficult and thick books, their covers turned up to give us all a chance to be impressed. Their eyelashes were long and they were used to girls looking at them, and at 3Cups they were always presented with a bit of a challenge, because all the baristas had tattoos and ripped shirts and derby hats, and the girls were often looking at them, or WERE them.
The 3Cups baristas’ hands were never idle, though their minds may have been. There were paper mache airplanes falling into nosedives from the ceiling, and burlap coffee sacks on the walls, and old wagon wheels and backless leather booths pushed up against exposed brick, and there were never any available outlets for your laptop.
One day I was busy being the most underdressed, dirtiest person at 3Cups. My hair was plastered against my forehead and littered with little skull-and-crossbones bobby pins, and my skull socks were cemented to my feet with nastiness, and I had a rip in my messenger bag (the one with the little metal skull studs). That rip made me look untidy, I thought, as if my appearance hadn’t take care of that already.
The nearest long-lashed Burberry kept shaking his head at me in disgust. I wondered absentmindedly whether he thought I had too many skull accessories. Probably I did. Then he abruptly gathered all his crap, and since he was already standing, hovering above, but not sitting on, his barstool, he was able to make a graceful exit. At the door he turns around, chin-up, and addressing the entire (seated) clientele at 3Cups, proclaims, “I’m out,” and turns around and glides out the door. No one looked up.
Two seconds later, he was back to retrieve his forgotten messenger bag, and there it was, sitting on his table, dejected and free of rips and full of books he’ll never really read. So much for theatrics.
I followed him outside to see where he was going and upon losing him around a corner, I lit up a cigarette and sat down. A little boy, maybe four years old, plodded up to me and screamed. He looked up at his dad, who was rich- and divorced-looking and wearing a Burberry scarf, and said, “Daddy, that girl is ugly!” And I figured the dad would tell his son to apologize to me, that it was rude to insult people, but instead he bent down and said, “I know, son, but we don’t say everything we feel! Come on let’s go.” He never made eye contact.
Sometimes I’d locate an outlet across the room with a foreign exchange student barricading it from my adapter plug. Her books and pens and mittens would be strewn all over the table, so I’d sit, hating her because she’s not even using an outlet; she has no computer, nothing electronic, and I’d secretly hate her for terrifying me with her language barrier—I knew I’d never approach her for fear she’d not be able to comprehend my words, when I knew she actually probably spoke better English than me. I’d just sit with my back not touching the exposed brick, and I’d only have 13% battery left and I’d have already exhausted my press pot and I’d have already spent eighteen dollars since I walked in the door, partly because I’d asked what Mutton Chop’s favorite coffee was, and I’m not one to back down from a challenge.
But now that 3Cups is gone, I’ll settle for overpriced cheese grits and this particular view of downtown Carrboro, the one that proves the traffic pattern was constructed by Bjork’s wild sugarglider on an acid trip.