Archive for June, 2005

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

I was sifting through my old documents folder again, and thought this little short story was interesting. People who knew me years back knew that I was shy, quiet, and unopinionated, but those who’ve met me in recent years find that almost unbelievable, because I’ve done an about-face. This short story serves almost as a manifesto in personifying this change.

“No More Mr. Nice Guy” (7/7/2001)
She told him about how much he meant to her, how he was such a trusted friend. “I can tell you anything and you’ll always listen. You’re the only person who really understands me” she’d say. And she’d go on and on about how he was the sort of person she hoped to spend her life with, and if only she could find someone like that everything would be fine. His stomach would turn at these saccharine statements of hers. He wondered to himself which was more gut-wrenching, her pathetic television-derived romanticism, his apparent non-datable friend-only status, or his desire for someone so obviously shallow.

This whole affair probably wasn’t much more sophisticated than the teen drama formula. You put two romantic folks really close together for a while, and one of them is bound to fall in love with the other. In his case, he was the first to cave in, and because she was already a “good friend”, he felt he should be more caring and sensitive than guys tend to be, and that was what landed him on the friends-only list. He became the sort of person to get advice from, to whine about other guys to. And after a year being consigned to this status, he decided he’d had enough.

It’s not like he really cared for her; she was someone he couldn’t have, and therein lay the challenge that kept him persistently attached to her, waiting for an opening he knew would not come. His sensitivity and caring and warmth were really little more than acting. And as such, he was sure he could cut her off with one cold swipe.

During one of her typical advice-seeking sessions, he decided to throw in a “you know…” and follow it with some silence. The kind of silent moment that says “I’m about to say something really important and can’t think of the right words and this moment is really awkward and somewhat embarrassing and I’m starting to wish I hadn’t just spoken.” It worked quite nicely, and he pressed on with the “I love you and I think we’re meant to be together” bit, speaking in her own saccharine language.
During the requisite silence that followed, he stared at her, gauging her reaction. First nothing, then a slight movement backward with a thinking expression. “She’s going to give me the ‘you’re like a brother’ crap or the ‘I don’t see you in that way’ thing,” he thought.

And like an automaton, she reacted. In a hushed whisper of a voice, she said, “that’s so nice… but….” It had to be calculated. No one’s deeper recesses can actually be composed of such banal bullshit. No one could be speaking through such a programmed script without doing it on purpose. He wondered what piece of stale wording she would throw up next.

“see…”

Did she think this was a teen flick, and that some Top 40 ballad would swell from behind us at any moment? Couldn’t she make a complete sentence? It had to be calculated. Then the clincher came, and he never saw this one coming:

“…I met this great guy…”–

“Fuck you.”

It was a reflex. Really. He continued, “What you meant to say is that you’ve met another asshole I’ll end up advising you about. And you’ll tell me how the perfect man for you is, in a word, me.” He was acting as much as she, his words as calculated as hers. “Meanwhile, I’m telling you I’m in love with you, and that’s the best you can come up with?”

She wore a blank stare, as if she really didn’t know what he was talking about. It was time for the big exit.

“Keep your doomed relationships to yourself and fuck off.”

With that, he walked off, disappearing before he could hear or see her reaction. And as he walked away, he thought, “People take you for granted.” Perhaps it was muddled up or misplaced, but blowing up was tremendously satisfying. “You’ve got to let them know you’re not just an advice website,” he continued. “It’s not about what I do for others, but what I do.”

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2 oz

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

I happened across this complaint at complaints.com,

I just got back from the Starbucks at the Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I ordered a grande cappuccino with a shot of vanilla.

For my $3.45 I got a 16 oz cup with 7oz of coffee and 8 spoons of foam. Talk about expensive coffee.

Just how much coffee should you get when you order a grande? It would seem to me that you should get something close to 16 oz.

I will not be going to Starbucks again.

This is a complaint we get at Starbucks quite frequently.

First, I should note the common misconception that a beverage such as a latte or a cappuccino is just “coffee”. The espresso contained in your average coffee beverage is typically only 1-2 oz. In this person’s case, it’s 2 oz., or only 1/8 of the composition of the beverage. Whether or not the coffee itself is expensive is irrelevant because the espresso might account for literally pennies. The cost of the milk in the beverage is considerably more than the coffee. That’s why you can go to a cafeteria Cubana here in Miami and get about 2 oz. of espresso for somewhere around $.75. Because 2 oz. of espresso costs pennies.

Now, we’ve started with a 16 oz. beverage. Subtract the 2 oz. of espresso, and we’re at 14 oz. Take away the serving of vanilla syrup, and we’re left to account for 13 oz. This 13 oz. is foamed milk, poured such that once settled, it should be about half milk and half foam. This means the 7 oz. of milk and 6 oz. of foam in this example sound about right.

To answer this misguided consumer’s question, 2 oz. A 16 oz. cappuccino from Starbucks contains 2 oz. of espresso.

A final note: A cappuccino made in the authentic Italian style, e.g. a purist’s cappuccino, is only about 1.5 oz of espresso, with roughly the same amount of foamed milk, e.g. small enough to be served in a demitasse. The modern rule of thumb, however, is 1/3 espresso, 2/3 foamed milk.

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Asky

Monday, June 6th, 2005

asky

I just thought you’d like to know, I’ve added a word to the dictionary.

The word is asky.

It started when my librarian friend told me about this wierdo stalker she’s got. She described his over-inquisitiveness as being asky, and that, yes, asky was a word. Unfortunately, no dictionary on Earth seemed to agree, so I set out to make true her statement by adding this word to a dictionary, thereby briniging it formally into existence.

Thank you, Urban Dictionary for making my dreams come true. Louise and I are now the proud parents of a new four-letter word, asky.

Now, asky has a formal definition in an informal dictionary. Perhaps one day this word will find its way into the vernacular, and even into bona-fide dictionaries. Dictionaries in libraries across the planet. And one day, years from now, a young child will see, hidden between sophomoric graffiti tags and crude depictions of genitalia, the word that might just change his life: asky. He will see that word, and think to himself, “I want to be asky”. That child might come to ask too many questions, and they just might be the right questions. That child just might change the world. That child is our future.

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