I work in a co-working space. (For all of you who ask me what that is, I say, "a co-working space is a place where you pay a few hundred dollars a month to share an office space with people, and also, how are you such a genius that you have thus far managed to avoid reading the annoying publications in which you would have learned this annoying term?") In said co-working space, I share a small room with two other writers. We have recently taken to calling our little room The Suicide Suite, because off of it is a beautiful balcony on which we are prohibited from standing as it could easily just snap off the building, like a bad lego. A member of our co-working space's dog once toddled off this balcony, and as this dog is no longer with us—balcony not at fault here—there is talk of naming it after him. But we'll have to check with the owner first and right now he is in a foreign country, teaching people to do something which I will forget as many times as it is explained to me.
The biggest subject of the day here at our co-working space is lunch. Lunch is always a problem. There are not many good restaurants in the little town we live in. It's strange, because there are a lot of really good cooks here, but no one seems to want to do it for a profession. There is a grocery store up the hill that makes good pre-made sandwiches, but sometimes they are out of them, and anyway, I am beginning to wonder if they are a) not very nutritious b) making us fat. Then there are two health food stores, one you drive to and one you walk to. The one you walk to has pre-made sandwiches, too, but they're a little soggy and while I can't recall the exact cost, my mind hovers somewhere around the sum of one thousand dollars.
The health food store you drive to is better, and has a pretty exciting hot food bar. That said, sometimes the hot bar is themed. Today, for example, is Italian day, and if anyone in the world who should not be assembling manicotti it is a stoned white person with 18 pounds of dreadlocks stuffed into a sock and sitting, periscope-like, a top his head. Actually, that's probably exactly who should be assembling manicotti, but probably not manicotti for which I would drive three miles.
One of my co-workers is fairly frugal and often brings her lunch. The other, like me, is more than happy to throw large portions of a modest income away on food. We are partial to a little vegetarian restaurant down the road staffed by an assemblage of generally helpful and friendly but occasionally careless 20-somethings. Our favorite is the one who says "perhaps" a lot. Our lunch of choice from this place is a child's burrito (or, the size a regular burrito would be if Americans were truly serious about portion control) and a shake made of almonds, frozen bananas, dates, and, in his case, almond milk, and, in my case, regular milk. I am partial to milk that comes from animals.
Even poorly made, this is a delicious concoction; well made, it is transcendent.
The issue is the blending. Those dates really need to get seriously processed in the blender. If the dates are not seriously processed in the blender, they get clumpy. This is something we have discussed at length. Even the banana can get a little weird, and you know what's even grosser than milk made out of nuts? Lumpy pieces of thawing bananas.
So, on Monday, determined to have my shake turn out correctly, I gave a little speech. It went like this: "Hey, I'm not complaining. But the last couple times I ordered this drink, it seemed like the blender didn't quite get done doing its job. So, it seems like maybe the teeth on the blender are getting a little worn, you know, which I totally realize is not your fault, no big deal! But if you can, it would be so awesome if you could give it a little extra whir, you know?"
My shake was so good. The best one ever.
So, on Wednesday, as my co-co-worker was preparing to call up the shake people and order lunch for us, I excitedly relayed my little speech. I thought he'd found it impressive, and even imitable, but when he was done placing the order, all he said was, "You think you could give that a little turbo blend? Thanks."
Upon seeing my look of shock that he had not used my amazing speech word for word, he explained, "I think my bro-ey—not frat bro, but more, like, climber/outdoor industry bro—approach and tone was way better than your whole passive aggressive thing."
Always quick to second-guess myself, I thought he must be right. "But my shake was perfect on Monday," I said.
"Well, that's true," he said. "Even if you were probably kind of annoying, the proof is in the pudding."
We were very excited to see how the shakes turned out.
"Mine is amazing," he declared three minutes into lunch.
"Mine sucks," I said. "What the fuck?" There were these giant pieces of date in it. Wet date lumps remind me of flies. Giant flies. It was still pretty good. (I love these things so much that a few months ago, I ordered one and went to pick it up. Not only was it not ready when I arrived, but the guy taking phone orders, whose voice I recognized, denied ever having spoken to me. I swore that I was done with them forever, fully expecting to take only a month or so off. Reader, I was back the next day!)
"There was not a lump in mine," he continued to boast. "It's like velvet."
"Mine is like a pilly sweater!" I wailed. He didn't respond.
"What if you're lying?" I said.
"What if you're lying?" he said.
We both agreed that the other one could totally be lying.
But a few minutes later he said, "Hey, did they write 'x-blended" on your little order tag?"
They tape a little piece of paper to your cup with specific instructions. Mine said, "19, whole." (My drink usually has goat milk.) His said "24 x-blended."
We realized that he'd ordered his shake second, and then made his request. We imagined them thinking that he only wanted the second shake to be perfect; but the other one, they were totally free to fuck that up.
The beans in our adult-child's burritos were undercooked. They did give each of us a lot of the carrot sticks that come with a child's portion, and mine were pretty good, but he said that his were a little limp. We decided that Wednesday was probably their carrot clean-out day.
We are going to keep a log of how we order our shakes and what special directions we give and how they turn out. I did not enjoy being mansplained about how to order my shake, but it may be that the briefer request is perfectly adequate to getting the job done, provided that, in the event of ordering more than one shake, you add, "Oh, and I would really like every single shake I ordered to be "x-blended." I suggested to my co- co-worker that we order our subsequent shakes the way they are written on the slips: "19, whole, x-blended, 24, x-blended"—and boom, see ya, but he thought that might give everyone except the establishment's owner a bit of anxiety. Well. We have nothing but time. Tomorrow and the next day and so on are all just more chances for everyone to get it right.
Photo via laureenp/flickr.
Previously: Annotating Dr. Oz's The Good Life