Café con leche

David – a grad student I’d taken under my wing years ago – and I had just eaten brunch. He suggested we find some coffee and desert. Intelligentsia was conveniently located. The barista was a cute blond guy. I nodded admiringly at his tip-jar, which had a note on it expressly stating that he was not flirting with the customer. This one knew the drill, and his anti-flirt was sexier than any normal consumer flirt. David ordered a black coffee whereas I picked out a café con leche. The Mexican drink stumped the kid. “I am ashamed to admit this to you, but I can’t promise that this will taste right. I’ve forgotten how to make a café con leche.” “That’s alright,” I magnanimously answered. “I forgot what one tastes like.” David, who studies economic anthropology, correctly pointed out to us that the barista and I had achieved market equilibrium.

Such a state is both refreshing and satisfying to achieve. The barista and I discussed Antonioni’s films for a few minutes after I explained what the drink is made of, and I thought how nice it was that he had been honest and had a brain. Sure, the folks at Intelligentsia do have the annoying habit of asking “paper or ceramic,” instead of asking “for here or to go?” But the coffee tastes pretty good, and is worth the pretentiousness. The meta tip-jar was icing on the cake. Their website states that for their new Silver Lake branch many of the baristas “moved to Los Angeles from around the country specifically to work with Intelligentsia,” which is a kind of hilarious thing to write. Do they have recruitment drives? Do they send people to college job fairs to snap up hungry film students? I’ve got David on the case. These questions are exactly what I’ve trained him to answer. When he learns their secret, my faithful readers will share it as well.

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3 Responses to “Café con leche”

  1. Victoria J. van Dijk Says:

    What a curious thing to read upon arriving in Chicago….What Antionioni film did you discuss with him? Of course I automatically think Blow Up (I mean, it’s a London thing), but somehow I think the answer should be L’avventura, as the quest sounds like something that one will soon forget what one is looking for.So do people now become baristas instead of going to graduate school? I fear that most of my students qualify for neither….This is my 16th MLA in 17 years. Somehow, the thrill is gone.

  2. darknessatnoon Says:

    We talked about a few. I defended Zabriskie Point and we shared our mutual appreciation of Blow Up. Mention of the MLA puts me in a foul mood for some reason. I’m not going, but if you see my national treasure, Dreamboat TC, please stick a spoke in her wheel for me. I’ll call you soon so we can make plans to meet.

  3. darknessatnoon Says:

    “So do people now become baristas instead of going to graduate school?”That’s probably a better way to make money. It was a relief seeing you this weekend.

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