Are you going to pay for that?

Spring is here and that means two things: iced coffee season is upon us and it’s time for New Yorkers to try and walk their cats.

It’s true. I saw more than one cat being dragged through a park on a leash or wheeled around in a mesh pet stroller this past weekend. For a species that’s known for looking miserable, they were really taking things to the next level. As entertaining as it is to watch them suffer through the indignity of it all year after year, it’s a springtime tradition that I could do without.

Iced coffee, on the other hand – well that’s something I’m firmly on board with. And if I’m going to stick with my theme and offer you unsolicited advice, then you should get one from Rise & Grind cafe in East Harlem. The shop itself is adorable and so is the barista who works there.

“You go to Rise & Grind?” my landlord asked me a few weeks back. “Me too. You buy 10 coffees, you get one free.”

“I know nothing about that,” I replied. “I go for the barista.”

He looked puzzled, but his wife nodded knowingly.

“I know exactly who you’re talking about,” she said. “He’s really cute.”

And then in unison, we both added, “He’s from Florida,” – a detail that had nothing to do with anything, but seemed to be the most exotic thing we knew about him and was therefore worth mentioning.

My landlord didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and I could hardly blame him. The barista might be something to look at, but he’s often terrible at his job. In fact, when I stopped by last week and ordered a small coffee, he lazily tipped the thermos behind the counter and then announced, “It’s going to be a few minutes,” as he started brewing a fresh pot.

A coffee shop that was momentarily out of coffee is not something I usually tolerate, but I did in this case because the whole reason I go to that particular cafe is to stand around and chat with him anyway. And I was so preoccupied with doing just that last Saturday that I forgot to pay. He didn’t make a very big deal about it – probably because he didn’t actually care, but also, I assume, because a few minutes prior he had forgotten to make the coffee.

In any case, the visit this past weekend seemed to go much better. We chatted, he poured, I paid – and so it went like a normal interaction ordinary people probably enjoy every day. Until, that is, I was heading out the door and he added an extra “Have a good one!” – which evidently caught me so off guard that I hit myself in the face with a straw and then apologized directly into my plastic cup.

To make matters worse, I looked at him and added, “I’m talking to a straw,” before adding a hasty “YOU TOO!” and rushing out the door – which, thankfully, was already open, thus saving me the trouble of walking right into it.

Someone should really put me on a leash. A short one.

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