Hi guys! Hope your week is going smoothly so far. I’m currently in Toronto (insert Drake lyric here about how I’m running through the 6 with my woes), but I am really excited to introduce you to our newest writer, Jeremy Ely!
With the launch of Read MORA, I knew I eventually wanted to have other writers come on and share their short stories on here – fun, quick and easy reads if you’re at work, laying in bed, or looking for some entertainment. A reader’s corner, if you will. Funny enough, sometimes things just kind of fall in your lap and you just have to go with it whether you’re ready for it or not (it’s not always about timing as I discussed this week for MORAvational Monday). After speaking with Jeremy and reading his work, I knew this would be a good fit and a great start to growing this section of Give Me Mora.
Anyways, I’ll stop talking and let you get to reading! Here is Coffee Convo by Jeremy Ely:
My recording and sharing of this conversation probably breaches an unwritten rule of coffee shop etiquette, which stipulates that regardless of how well you can overhear a neighboring party, you are to act as if an iron curtain stands between you and them. The occasional glance is permissible, but doing so repetitively, or chiming in to strangers’ conversations, I’ve learned, is generally frowned upon. Everybody at the coffee shop is afforded their three or four cubit feet of privacy.
Sunday, I’m at a coffee shop in West Hollywood, sunny outside, reading a novel. A Persian girl who looks vaguely familiar and another Persian guy slowly approach the outdoor patio, assess the seating arrangement—I suppose, mumble to one another about preferences—and finally choose to occupy the vacant two person table across from my own.
The girl has a sip of an iced drink in plastic. At a hip, trendy coffee shop like this one, this mocha frap, or whatever the hell it is, is an insignia of a coffee shop newbie.
“Alright, Arash,” she says with a strong Persian accent, which captivates me instantly. “We need to talk. It’s very important that during this time, you listen to me, Arash.” Our male protagonist, evidently a thirty-year-old Arash, nods furtively. She’s facing me, and I only see the back of Arash’s head and the furls of his blue hoodie below. She looks at him straight in the eyes, her eyes wide open, head tilted a little forward to imply a rigorousness not to be messed with. She’s been practicing. Her skin is light and her hair is silky and dark.
“You need to speak to my dad with more respect,” she says.
When Arash turns his head left and right, I can see his black beard.
“I try,” Arash responds. “But he’s kind of an asshole. He doesn’t like me.”
“You’re not that nice to him, either. Also, you can’t hang up the phone on me anymore. Don’t you know how rude it is?”
“It’s not rude,” snaps Arash. “It’s just a reflection of how I feel. Like, when you’re saying stuff that’s pissing me off, I’m going to hang up the phone.”
“But it hurts me!” she shouts. Everybody in the outdoor patio glances in her direction inconspicuously. A man sitting beside me, reading something of his own, turns his head over to me to giggle momentarily. “It hurts me, okay? Is that what you want? Do you like to hurt me, Arash?”
I do, I want to stand up and say.
Arash tilts his head down, perhaps to show a remorseful, pouting face, and mumbles something indecipherable to her from my distance. Arash, it seems, at least has the self-awareness to keep this conversation low profile—either that, or mumbling is his general mode of speaking. At this point, I’ve totally abandoned the novel, my attention locked on their conversation, writing down my favorite lines. After the quiet exchange, she pats the back of his hand and keeps it there. Arash must have said something right.
At some point I wonder if this popular coffee shop was the right place to be having such a serious conversation. But, thinking about it, it made some sense. See, you probably wouldn’t want to have this conversation over a fancy dinner, because it could easily end up in a fight and be a waste of a couple hundred or whatever. And, although our Nameless Female appeared to be at least thirty years old, odds were she still lived at home, since the idea of an unmarried Persian girl living on her own is akin to devil worship, according to this Persian culture Arash, Nameless Female and I grew up in. And we’ve already learned how well Arash and Nameless Persian Female’s Father get along, if he were to be home. You probably can’t go over to Arash’s place, either, since it’s only a matter of time for when a man and woman get carried away in a private, quiet apartment. After all that, you’re left with a coffee shop—you just have to hope there aren’t people like me around.
“Here’s what you don’t understand, Arash.” Tell ‘em. “Like, I don’t even know. I don’t know everything about, you know.” A very well-crafted sentence, I note.
“What do you mean?” Arash asks innocently, though I sense we’re now delving into more precipitous territory, perhaps the meat of this Sunday afternoon coffee meet-up.
“My dad asked me, and I didn’t know what to tell him, like, where you are right now?”
“Where I am?”
“You know, he has a point. Like I don’t know how much student debt you still have, how much you’ve made at your job.” Arash nods his head, and I have difficulty believing this situation is real. Nameless Female puts her palm over her heart and makes a pouting face, as if now finally able to relinquish a burden she’s had to carry for mutual benefit for a long time. “But it’s important, okay? These things are important, and you don’t realize, so tell me.”
More quiet exchange. I take some time to process that I just witnessed a person lure another into surrendering the specifics of their bank account, which, on some level, is pretty impressive. And this confession, I imagine, will probably dictate this couple’s fate, while I sit here, sip my gibraltar and pretend to read this novel, which I was having a truly excellent time reading before Arash and Nameless Female came.
Then, after Arash updates her on his financial liquidity that I can’t hear, she displays a new facet of her well-versed personality: “You know what’s one thing I told my dad?” Nameless Female asks.
“What?” Arash sounds optimistic.
“I was telling him I can’t get a guy who has everything.”
“What do you mean?”
“I told him how you’re nice, ambitious, and handsome. He can’t expect me to find a guy whose handsome, nice, and rich, you know?” An essential turning point during our midday coffee chat—also when I figured I’d seen enough.
My conclusion from all this was the following: When you don’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend for a while, your focus on having one intensifies, and it eventually turns into an obsession. Loneliness and desperation settle in and after a while you begin to think there might be something wrong with you for being single so long. Months of one-nighters, ignored texts and solo trips to diners at eleven at night have an effect. You look at couples and your head invents ideas about how these people, since they aren’t alone on the surface, are somehow superior.
But for lonely single people, there might not be anything more helpful and liberating than to watch a stupid couple and realize that dating isn’t a superior, consistently positive experience that makes your life worthwhile. To make your life worthwhile is something you have to do for yourself. The point is, Nameless Female and Arash: you got me to realize that other things are just as, if not more important, than society’s focus with relationships. This all to say: overhearing a dumb and dysfunctional couple at the coffee shop can make you feel better about being single.
For more stories and info on Jeremy, you can visit his website, Ignored Emails here.
You can also follow Jeremy on Instagram!