Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A tale of extremes

Lately wherever I go, I've been encountering extremes. Am seeing two sides of the same thing in the same breath. White and black, truth and false, smart and dumb, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, lucky and unlucky, sober and drunk, busy and busier... ok the last one doesn't quite fit but you get the point. Of course there's shades of everything in between but that's for some other time.

One such extreme story is about the proverbial good girl and the bad girl. And their story one morning. Here goes:

With the widest stretch and the loudest yawn, she wakes up bright and early. Technically it was Saturday but she rarely slacked off. Art was her oxygen. She takes the pooch for a walk on the busy San Francisco streets as she’d promised. City mornings always inspired her. The sound patterns, the hues, the smell of fresh caffeine and complex carbs, the occasional hippie sightings and the fog that added mystic charm. She'd invariably spot something that would strike a chord and run off to her studio to give life to her inspiration. Today she's dared to take off. It was her flat mate's 25th birthday. She'd promised to help arrange for a small party. A wonky homeless fella calls out at her as she enters her regular coffee shop. A non-fat latte with extra whip was her morning treat for walking the four-legged angel a mile. She just carried exact change for the latte and had nothing to give him except for her diamond studs. Thoughtfully, she walks in, gets her latte, asks for an extra cup, splits her drink, gives one cup to the homeless guy, says cheers, does her typical "have a LOVELY day" with the finger and thumb stretched out that most people used to denote 'Loser' and walks off. It leaves the homeless fella bemused but her warm smile had taken over him already. She believed there were no losers, only people stuck in unfortunate circumstances. She was determined on changing how the 'L' was perceived. Half way through the dog’s excretion process, she has a light bulb moment and scurries off with him. She drops him home, takes a cab to her studio, dumps a boatload of stuff in the cab and off she goes to Jon's. Jon, her and flat mate’s pal, had graciously offered his lackluster backyard for a bbq party. She wakes up a visibly drowsy Jon and raids his place until she discovers an unused and filthy basement. Flat mate arrives at noon and is appalled to see her in sweat pants and worn out tee with grease all over her. And then, sees the basement that had miraculously transformed into nothing short of an exceptionally funky art gallery in Manhattan complete with lights. Voila, it was the new venue for her birthday party.

She hated it when she had an early morning shift. There was no justification for buying coffee at 5 am, she'd tell every buyer with her piercing gaze and her classic irreverent manner. Sometimes she'd actually say the words to those who didn't give her a good vibe. Most laughed or shrugged it off. What she meant to convey was that she was annoyed that her dad had abruptly stopped sending her money for living expenses making a million excuses which had compelled her to do this crappy job. It's not like she cared about making people happy by serving them a drink frothed to perfection, just in case they were delusional. A tall guy with bandana in a wife beater shirt with giant exposed biceps walks up and orders four ice drinks with extra ice. How brilliant, she smirked. She didn't mind serving sophisticated and good looking people but she didn't care to be politically correct or to resonate with blue collar workers for that matter. "James" she screams at her only co-worker who seemed almost immersed in the green tea he was so lovingly blending. James obliges by taking bicep guy's order. Bicep dude smells attitude, picks up his 4 drinks, tastes one, then returns it to her with a "honey it ain't no good" and a vicious half smile to match with it. Seeing the grimace on her face, he makes her remake rest of the three drinks as well. She remakes them, her eyes burning with anger under the steel-silver eye shadow and pushes them his way. He takes them, all smug, and walks out. Just when he turns the ignition on, something hot and brown and liquidy comes flying out at him. There she is, with hostile body language, cursing him luridly holding an empty coffee glass. Humiliated, he gets out of the truck to attack her but she spits on him and runs inside. This was one of the reasons this coffee shop was so popular. Drama, guaranteed, anytime. The owner gets the word soon and fires her, for real this time. When he gets home that evening, his wife had left with her bags and a note "Cheaters disgust me". Cheater who, he asks himself, perplexed.

Such extremes, both those characters, both having an impact on people around them and their surroundings but in such constrasting manner.

What do you choose to be?

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