An Ode to Social Awkwardness and Café Mistos

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Saturday afternoon. I walk into my local Starbucks. After 10 minutes of scrolling through all of my imaginary texts while glancing at the hot guy to my right, I remember thinking he looks distinctly like a professor I may have had in another, not so awkward life. I decide to order. “Can I have a Café Misto, please?” The cute barista smiles and nods yes. I laugh, because what else are you supposed to do when a cute barista takes your order?

I wait the 10 minutes that it always takes a Starbucks employee to make any drink, and finally Cute Barista hands me my drink. I turn around and scan the crowded room for an empty table. I look to my left, nothing. I look to my right and spot an empty seat… right in front of a hot maybe-professor. I do a quick, casual phone reflection face-check and gather up all my courage and head for the table. I’m almost there, painfully close when a woman and her 3 young children swoop in right in front of me. “You weren’t going to sit there were you?” The lady had crazy eyes and all 3 of her kids were crying. Hot professor looks at me, I look back at him. Hot professor looks at crazy lady, I look at hot professor. It’s over, I can feel it in my bones. There was no future for me and hot professor, but maybe, just maybe there was one for hot professor and crazy lady. I decided to let them have their chance. “No, of course not.” I stammered. “Go for it.” As soon as I said the words I regretted them, now not only did I not have a shot with hot professor, I also didn’t have a seat. Chicago in the winter is far too cold to take a casual stroll, I knew I wouldn’t never forgive myself if I left the soothing warmth in favor of the harsh, dry cold. I decided to stay. The only place left to go was the empty corner by the back bathroom, so there I went, side-stepping happy couples and families, all to get to my dark, lonely bathroom adjacent corner. I stood there for nearly 15 minutes, slowly sipping my Café Misto, too much Café, not enough Misto, but weirdly delicious. I watched as hot professor struck up a conversation with crazy lady’s youngest child, she laughed and so did he, for a split second I thought I saw something there. The way he looked at her, the way she looked at her child. I thought that maybe, just maybe those two had some chance at happiness together. I smiled. I mean, if they were to, hypothetically, fall in love at a Starbucks it would be all because of me.

Ten minutes later, hot professor got up, shook crazy lady’s hand and they laughed about some obscure joke he made, and that was that. As I watched him leave, I saw the wedding band on his left hand glitter, and then he was gone. I guess that’s how life works though. I think sometimes we are so unaware of our “maybes”. We are so numb to the fact that there are literally infinite ways any given moment in our lives could go. Crazy lady and hot professor could have easily exchanged numbers. I could have easily refused to give crazy lady my table. Hot professor could have left long before I even arrived. There are literally infinite possibilities. To me, this is the most beautiful part of life, it’s like Russian Roulette, you never know what could happen. So take a chance, talk to that cute Starbucks Barista, try a new drink or a new food, dye your hair, be willing to fall in love, huddle in the back corner of a Starbucks and take a minute to look around you and realize how truly incredible life can be, but never ever order the Café Misto.

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