Thursday, November 5, 2009

Donkey Song

It's a coffee-shop of short-haired, giddy women and long-haired, dour men; of free-trade coffee and free internet; of hipster tunes and hyper students. It's the sort of place that, in 1700s Britain, would have had a newspaper on a stick and folks philosophizing in every corner.

The Donkey, the central cafe in Athens, virtually smells literate, filled as it is with artwork, beatnikitude, cool cats. I've dreamed about this kind of place (even hope to open one like it and call it, yes, Dr. True's Soup and Read--Used Books 'n Bisque).

I have a crush on the spot.

And it's always rejected me. Too hip for me, The Donkey. Too socially conscious and Vegan. Too locally-grown. Too in love with its own customs, its slow, relaxier-than-thou service. Too satisfied with its taste in music, in everything. Too, gosh-darn it, sincerely enthusiastic in a way I expect Portland, Oregon is. Too bikish and bookish.

If The Donkey was a summer vacation, it would be a trip to Ecuador to do service work and organic farming.

The thing is, I want to do that. Quito sounds delightful! And I like music and relaxing and progressivism and sincerity and fake butter. I want to be in the literati. I even want to curl up in the womb of its back-room, with my musty Vonnegut (it can't be new at The Donkey, and it can't be non-Vonnegut). There, I'll be warmed by amber lamps and five-dollar French Roast, by my own sense of mild detachment, by the opiatic (yes, opiatic--we can throw around esotericisms at The Donkey with a flip of the wrist), by the opiatic steam of the froth machine.

But, I've always been a little uncomfortable there. Sometimes there's no place to sit. Sometimes Monica doesn't smile. Sometimes I spill my tea and, having done so, feel like a narc. You don't belong here, say the stares of the pierced and placid.

The Donkey represents the kind of person I often want to be--kooky with a conscience--but too often tells me who I actually am: kinda khaki for its kaleidoscope.

Yesterday, though, The Donkey and I finally found a peace together.

I held my writing class there and my students enjoyed it. They felt all we-love-words, all let's-live-at-a-commune-writing-slam-poetry-together, all acoustic and caustic and tickled pink to be writers in a coffee shop. It was the way they thought, the way I thought, college would be.

I think this treaty between The Donkey and me calls for a 7-dollar celebration Chai, please. 25 minutes? Sure, I'll wait.


Joe said...

Ditto on the Donk. Of course, coffee shops can only take you so far when you're drinking hot cocoa. "Hey, great cocoa, huh? What, I have whipped cream on my nose?"

I had a teacher once who begged us not wear black turtlenecks and spectacles and write in coffee shops. I can fall behind two of those requests, but dammit if anyone is going to keep me out of a turtleneck come wintertime!

Megan said...

Celebrate! Dunkin' Donuts is looking into some space on East State Street. We have to band together to make this happen... I have been dreaming of it for over two years!