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Coffee Break: Sipping Into Something More Comfortable
or, Care for a little 'pick me up'?

by Evany Thomas

So it's official: The Wedding Season is upon us. When I'm not spending my weekends doing the funky chicken at an actual nuptial celebration, I'm hunting for the perfect bread maker on the happy couple's registry, dropping off my cake-smeared dress at the cleaners, penning faintly dirty limericks for toast time, and so on. Since I heart weddings, it's all fairly painless. But sometimes, I catch myself thinking not-so-happy thoughts: What are these people thinking? How can they face 50/50 divorce-rate odds and still say, "I do"? What is it that propels these lemmings down the aisle?

Whisky a Go-Go

The answer recently came to me after an evening at a bar full of fellow denizens of Singledom. Sure [tipsily peel off my smoke-choked clothes] those marrying kinds are full of admirable and enviable love and optimism [down three aspirin and four glasses of water], but, more than anything [sway, stagger, and collapse diagonally across the bed] the reason so many people are getting married these days [clutch pillow as room slowly begins to spin] is so they'll never [wake the next morning to a blinding headache], ever [and an empty wallet] have to spend another night at a singles' bar.

The problem with the singles' bar scene is this: The process of meeting someone -- scoping the prospects, locking eyes with the target, the fumbling "grab drink, sidle up" maneuver, the get-to-know-you chat, the discovery that you've landed someone who "loved that show, 'Shasta McNasty,'" the awkward escape... and repeat -- it takes time. Cruising is nervous, thirsty work, and one drink can easily turn into four or six before your songs even come on the juke box. By the time you find someone promising, those beer goggles are strapped on nice and tight.

Double-Tall and Handsome

When you embark on a mate hunt, you want to be alert and looking your best. So why do four out of five people surveyed continue to lean so heavily on the bar as their one outlet for meeting people? Obviously, drinking lowers people inhibitions and gives them the courage to start a conversation with a stranger. But wouldn't it be better if everyone were drinking something that filled them not with false confidence but sharpened wit(s) and a twinkle in their eye?

Like, for instance, a nice cup of coffee?

Coffee has a lot going for it. It's relatively cheap (even a triple-grande, non-fat, extra foamy mocha costs less than your average draft beer), you can do something else (sketch, read, study, check your email) as you drink, and, unlike the heavy fog of depression that hovers over a bottle of booze, coffee is a stimulant. It's so stimulating, in fact, it has been linked to the prevention of suicide. So, by definition, we're more likely to meet peppy go-getters over a cup of something hot and black.

Breakup Girl's best coffee-related
one-liner ever:

BG: How do you take your coffee?
Party Guest: I like my coffee like I like my women.


BG: Equal?

Plus, in most countries of the world, the places that offer a steamin' hot cuppa joe and room to sit down and enjoy it are varied and plentiful. There's the Diner-type American diner, where cream comes in little, peel-top plastic containers, food is of the "cherry pie and burger" variety, and the coffee is weak, sometimes even burnt, but always hot and full of caffeine. There are chain coffee shops, like IHOP or Denny's for those of you who don't like surprises. And then there's the traditional cafe, where food is on the croissant/biscotti/oatcake end of the spectrum, and the percentage of students and pierced, brooding journal writers is much higher.

Wherever you choose to go, however, it's the coffee that gives you a compelling reason to sit in once place for hours on end, offering you the all-important time you need to work up the nerve to strike up a conversation. Surely in the hours it can take to nurse a cappuccino you'll find a way to offer to quiz the hottie with the flashcards at the next table. Or perhaps you're having trouble getting that laptop to recognize its networking card, offering the perfect excuse to rely on the kindness, and techno know-how, of a stranger?

Just make sure you switch to decaf at some point, because too much coffee can be almost as bad a first-impression maker as too much booze: People want to participate in a conversation, not listen to a frantic monologue. And the shakes and sweats tend to make you look a lot crazier than you really are.

On Common Grounds

Once you manage to get a nice, normal conversation percolating, odds are you'll have at least one topic to talk about: your strong fondness for coffee. Subtopics abound, naturally: is 195 degrees just too hot? What are the politically correct implications of shade-grown beans? Which is the better coffee town: Seattle or San Francisco?

And who knows? After converting from White Russians to black Americanos and doing the requisite scouting missions of your local cafes and coffeeshops, you might start to enjoy the subtle insights of the true caffeinophile. After all, you truly have to love coffee to understand another coffee lover. Only someone with their very own java monkey on their back knows that walking ten blocks out of the way for a perfect cup is in no way insane.

And then, before you know it, you may find that you and that 195-degree hottie you just met speak the same language.

You can't stop Evany Thomas; you can only hope to contain her. In her most recent Big To Do, she expounded the Cortina Principle of dating.

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