#29: Prematurely Graying-locks and the Three Coffee Shops

July 4th, 2012

Once upon a time in the land known as West Town, a freelance writer realized that if he didn’t leave his house, he would watch YouTube episodes of “Scrubs” all day and never finish that magazine story.

Being a smart, resourceful lad who started finding gray hairs when he was 20, our intrepid and still youthful despite the bits of gray hero decided to throw his brick of a laptop in his backpack, hop on the bike he sometimes calls Kipper when no one’s around to hear it and head out.

It was a hot day in West Town, one where the wind feels like an insult rather than a breeze. He pedaled Kipper to a shop he had heard about that was named after a Carl Sandburg poem.

The coffee shop was clean and open, with MacBooks dappled on the tables like mushrooms in a field after a rain. The people there all wore the glasses of apparently much larger people who liked plastic frames and having their whole field of vision darkened. They wore the plaid and jeans of very small lumberjacks.

“This one is too hipster,” he said to himself. “And there aren’t enough outlets.”

So Graying-but-still-quite-fit-locks got back on Kipper and headed to a coffee shop/bakery supposedly very punk. They said so, after all.

This place was open and spacious. WiFi, many tables and even an outlet, said the woman who would later damage his refillable coffee cup by trying to snap it on when it screwed. The hibiscus pancakes would be delicious, but the music and dining families a bit too loud for transcribing the final interview off his digital recorder.

“This one is too restauranty,” he said to himself.

He got back on Kipper and pedaled through the magical land.

West Town is magic, for those who don’t know. It’s cheap bars and good food and discount clothing shops offering orange plaid jams for $9. It’s where real meets trend and, although trend will win as it has for years, right now it’s the best place in Chicago to be, the young man thought.

But for a freelance writer with an impending deadline, it was hard to find a coffee shop to work in.

There were others he rejected out of hand, of course. One had no air conditioning. One was too far. Another too loud in case he needed to make a call. One was a Starbucks.

Eventually, Distinguished-locks gave up and went home, thick with sweat from the heat-hot day and ready to throw in the towel after he dried himself off with it.

He walked down to his Noble Square apartment, turned off the alarm and looked at his books, his grandfather’s desk and the French press coffee-maker. He listened to the quiet and saw the sun filter past the plant his roommate named Parker.

“This one is just right,” he said.

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