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Business and Pleasure: At the Clubhouse

May 13, 2010

There’s a café down the block that I’ve nicknamed The Clubhouse. I go there most mornings for a latté, and many mornings for a pastry, too, though I’m trying to wean myself off those. Once, it was the place I went to be alone, to be quiet, to get some reading or some writing done. Friends hung out there, but we were usually on different schedules and our paths rarely intersected.  When they did, we’d hug on the sidewalk, paper cups clutched in one hand, forearms hitched around each other’s shoulders. Then, we’d cock our heads, wish each other a lovely day, and move on.

Quiet, alone, reading, writing, thought-sifting.

Then, I met D. and the coffee shop dynamic changed. He introduced me to this person, that person, and a few others. He confessed that a bunch of regulars had been watching me for months, inventing details about my life since no one knew anything real. He called me the cute nerdy girl who was always reading alone and wouldn’t give anyone the time of day. I was surprised; until then, it had never occurred to me that the café was a place people went to talk to strangers, or that over time, those strangers became friends. I assumed people were talking to whomever they’d arrived with, or with someone they’d met on purpose, a prearranged encounter playing out as planned. And, I was surprised the guys had cast me as snooty and chilly of disposition. Really, I was minding my own business and getting shit done before heading to my official 9 to 5.

The girl who wouldn’t give people the time of day! Who knew?!

It was through D. that I met Z., with whom I became fast friends. We began fleshing out other patrons’ lives (filling gaps with “girl who wouldn’t give you the time of day” type details, too). And, it is with Z. that last week’s TV experience was planned and executed. Beginning with the pitch then accelerating through audition, contract-signing, and detailed episode planning, for months our mornings were fueled by coffee, supplemented with croissants, and consumed by shopping lists, menu plans, check-ins and countdowns, nervous jokes and anxious plans. We ingested dozens of pains aux chocolat and a swimming pool of espresso and full-fat milk while we pieced together our TV debut. And now, I look forward to taking a couple of weeks’ holiday. No coffee, no milk, no pastries, no early morning brainstorms. No cameras. No storytelling. No bitching about our jobs, lives, minutiae, neighbours.

No lists or plans and fraught conversations. A short detox, a short break, a step back from over-the-top creative pursuits.

And, I look forward to The Clubhouse feeling more like a place I go to be quiet, if not alone,  and of course, to give people the time of day.

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