Ang, one of my oldest friends from Cleveland, was in town last week for a vacation. We had a great time talking and tramping around Los Angeles. I even took her on a hike to see the old MASH set in Malibu Creek State Park. Then, one night, after the bar quiz, we decided to go for tea/coffee at a Starbucks in Studio City.
I had frequented this Starbucks a few times. The caffeinated counter baristas were nice, and the bathroom was usually clean. This Starbucks also served as a waiting room for wannabe screenwriters on their way to being rich and famous (or maybe just rich, screenwriters don't usually get famous). On the night I went with Ang, I counted four scripts plus one guy watching Marie Antoinette on a portable DVD player. Why would one go to Starbucks to watch a movie?
Ang and I found two chairs and settled into good coffee shop conversation. Yes, I know it's an old friend cliché, but we can just sit and gab and gab.
In a nearby comfy chair, a guy with a silver briefcase sat talking quietly into his Bluetooth headset. He seemed oblivious to his surroundings. Maybe he was a spy–-or wanted to give the appearance of being a spy which would make him a pretty bad spy because isn't the purpose of being spy such that you do not get noticed and identified as a spy. And what was there to spy on in Studio City?
Sitting in another comfy chair behind Ang but in my eyeline was The Cucumber Lady. She wore a brown hoodie and had curly hair. On the little table in front of her, she had a big black leather folder filled with papers and book on the craft of TV writing. She also had a large bottle of Perrier, a small bottle of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, a large Starbucks cup, and a plastic Starbucks cup filled with ice.
The Cucumber Lady caught my eye when she poured her hot coffee onto the ice, topped it off with the grapefruit juice, and mixed the two together. Now, I like my coffee and grapefruit juice in the morning, but I would never think of mixing the two together on ice. Am I behind the times or is that just weird? After she drank her mixture, she took a swig from her Perrier bottle to cleanse her palate.
I suddenly thought of The Breakfast Club. Is this what happened to the Ally Sheedy character when she grew up?
Then she pulled out the cucumber.
Or I should say half of a well-endowed cucumber.
She started taking small bites out of the cucumber as she made notes on pieces of paper filled with notes already. Was she working on an idea for a TV show? Was she writing her memoirs? How had she come to this Starbucks in Studio City late on a weekday night?
I tried not to think about the Cucumber Lady too much because I was enjoying my conversation with Ang who was flying out Hawaii the next day and was a balloon of positive energy. I should go with the positive. I should find joy in the moment. I should not drink caffeinated coffee after eleven o'clock in the evening. I thought about the Cucumber Lady the next day.
I remember when I was in my twenties, I was determined to be a bright young phenom or my vision of a bright young phenom. I hoped that I wouldn't grow old and mediocre. Then, various biographical circumstances called life happened, and I'm too old to be the bright young phenom except among the over sixty set. But that's okay most days.
Still when I see the Cucumber Lady nibbling and scribbling, I see something of myself in her striving and her stick-to-it-ness. I also see my fear of turning into the Cucumber Lady. Please fate, oh please, let me not end up nibbling cucumbers in public in Studio City. Then again, I have never nibbled a cucumber in public before. Why would I take it up now?