Thursday, June 9, 2011

Space Invader

So I’m sitting in a coffee shop minding my p’s and q’s, right? I don’t ask for much in life. I really don’t. I mean, why would someone want to ruin my bliss? Why would someone want to trespass on my private garden? Please don’t begrudge me one frickin’ cup of Joe! That’s all I’m saying. This is my time, you know? Everyone needs to recharge his or her battery from time to time, and I’m no different. I’m just another primate caught in the rat race of this dog-eat-dog world, and I can surely nudge my snout in the trough of life with the best of them. Just give me an hour with a latte and a good book and I’ll be ready to return to the zoo.

Anyway, I’m sitting there reading through a book entitled Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made Amerca Modern, imagining myself in Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, when I hear someone at a nearby table say, “Is that a good book?” I ignore the voice, as the fleeting thought that some fool would have the audacity to invade my space is preposterous indeed. I return to my imagination: I’m quite a dandy in my tweed suit and penny loafers, sipping champagne and smoking like a fiend at the poolside with the likes of Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin, and a couple of bigwigs from Paramount Pictures.

Again I hear that hideous voice, “I say, sir, Is that a good book?” I look up and see a man in his sixties eyeing me with raised eyebrows. He’s nattily dressed, wearing sports sandals, and seems intent on foisting his selfish need to pollute the air with his cacophonous voice on a hapless fellow such as myself. My only thought at this moment is, Why did I leave my baton and pepper spray in the car? Supposing that civility requires a response of some kind, I utter a laconic “Yes.” To bring home the point that he was disturbing my peace, robbing me of my quietude, and otherwise destroying my tenuous belief in everything that’s good and sacred in this world, I convey a message through body language: a quick nod with a moderate smile before sticking my nose back in the book. I can tell he was still eyeing me. “Flapper, huh? That looks very interesting.”