A Canvas Created For Me To Screw With

My shared table at Starbucks consisted of Ortiz, the cop on her break flicking her finger on the screen of her phone as she wistfully stares at the window and listens to whatever music she has on in her earbuds. The blonde, sitting next to Ortiz, is eating a Biscotti and reading the Thursday Style section of the Times. Bob, the regular who comes to my cabaret and reads poetry at the Open Mic every other Friday, is sitting with his small alarm clock placed in front of him and is searching for a muse as he writes his next poem in long hand using a blue ball point pen and blank printing paper. The guy to my left, Tom, is a tourist. Tom looks like he might be French as all of his maps are in French. He looks up from his NYC Guide Book from time to time and takes a sip of his very sugary fuck-it-I’m-on-vacation frappuccino.

I’m sitting at the head of the table and recording this moment, because it’s a really cool moment. I think this is a great example of a blank canvas happening at the modern Day-Time pub of New York. These people are here to sit down to take a breather, and when they are here doing that, it becomes a bigger moment than just a “breather.” I look at it and think: how would one totally screw with this moment and make it funny or poignant or sad or crazy?

Bob’s tracing the outline of his lips as he thinks of his next line. The Blonde is surreptitiously checking out the people coming in and out of the entrance before going back to reading the next article. Ortiz has her hands on her head and looks annoyed as she reads the next text. Tom’s friend just sat down from a visit to the bathroom and the two are talking excitedly in french as the next destination is made and the map is consulted. I’m sipping my latte and feeling like a fly on the wall.

What would happen if I suddenly snapped and jumped up on the table and did a dance? What if I stood up and threw my hands to the ceiling and just opened my lips and sang the loudest version of “Fuck Her Gently” by Tenacious D? This moment right now as I write this, this incredibly common and delicate moment, is a result of everyone sitting at this table and trusting that for just a minute they don’t have to deal with the threat of something outlandish like that happening like it could (and would) happen out there on the other side of the glass of the Starbucks store front. We all rented our seats at this table, we all bought our 3-5 dollar drinks and decided to park our butts here so we can avoid the crazy.

I’m smiling just thinking about what it would be like to laugh hysterically and then start playing “The Floor is Lava” with the whole cafe. I don’t think anyone would be very appreciative of that, I may get a couple polite laughs and a few smiles, but this is not where that moment would happen.

And yet another reason for loving improv. If this were a scene, I could be that crazy person and my entire team would jump up on that table and dance like crazy people, too. I can mock that preciously common and fragile moment of all of these strangers sitting at a Starbucks table. And as a result of these thoughts, I’m loving the power of knowing I could destroy the moment in a frenzy of song and dance, but deciding instead to write about it and just exist here as a player in the tableau of this scene.

October 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm by Natalie Allen