The image of New York coffee shops, painted in movies, books and stories, is one of cultural meeting points, where the young, beautiful and intellectual, converge to exchange conversation, ideas, and eventually phone numbers. Now unless you live in the 'Friends' universe (and look like Joey), you will be sorely disappointed as you walk into the coffee shops of New York, to find that in fact, the young and beautiful do not reside here. In reality, their first shock would be finding out that the place is populated by people on their laptops, their heads buried in their screens, with the aura of 'please leave me alone' floating around them. Their second shock would be seeing the random homeless guy sitting on one of the tables, talking to what appears to his reflection, much like how Golem from Lord of the Rings would.
Sitting in this west village cafe, next to my apartment, as I write this blog post, I see this cute blonde (Blond? Blonde? I don't know the difference) sit next to me. She has a very pretty face with fine features, a few freckles scattered around her nose. The kind of girl you would want to be sitting next to a fireplace with, nursing a hot cup of cider on a cold winter day. Normally, in other circumstances, say a bar, or restaurant, I would go up, talk to this girl, make her laugh using my nice bag of jokes (always handy), and then take her number. But looking at her now, with her white headphones on, and her pre-occupation with her laptop screen, she would probably welcome me less than a New Yorker welcomes mice into his apartment. So why come to the coffee shop, you ask? Surely she must be longing for some good intellectual conversation from a handsome stranger.
But the truth is my friends, the day and age of meeting and befriending strangers in coffee shops has long gone. People are more likely to trust a complete stranger they met on an Internet dating site whom they've never seen, rather than get to know a fellow coffee shop dweller. As sad as that is, it's true. Men and women, alike, are now too pre-occupied with shaping their online and outward image, through Facebook, twitter, and blogs (oh deary me!), spending their 'offline' time doing things they can use for their 'online' time. Going to the park solely for the purpose of saying that they are at the park, or similarly going to a party, to say they are at the party.
In truth, good spontaneous conversation is no more. Getting to know someone without any prior knowledge about them or their history is done for. Coffee shops are now just harborers of free wifi seekers, of coffee drinkers and Facebook updaters. Or in my case, a blogger sad about the blonde girl next to him.