I own about three pairs of headphones, & I almost always have one of them with me. As someone who works from home – which often means working from coffeeshops – I need them in order to take conference calls in crowded, noisy venues, & of course, they're great for blocking out the world around me & losing myself in Billy Joel while I work. Or, um, something cooler. (What are the kids listening to these days, anyway?)
When I got to Starbucks this afternoon, the only seat left in the place was at a shared seating area, squished between a woman in her 30s working on a Macbook & two women in their 50s taking up much more space than they required. What stood out about them was that one of the women appeared to have brought her own cutlery & a China plate from home & was eating an orange with a fork while snacking from a plastic party tray of dried apricots. While I've been known to sneak outside food into Starbucks (& the movies & basically anywhere else), there's something distinctly brazen about setting up your own meal & digging in for everyone to see. She was also drinking an eggnog latte, which, she announced loudly – & repeatedly – was "absolute rubbish."
It gets weirder. I briefly considered the idea that these women – or at least one of them, the more annoying of the two – might've had some sort of developmental delay (which would've absolutely kept me from writing this post, let's be clear), but it became pretty clear that they were just... weird. The lady with the orange switched back & forth between a normal voice & a squeaky, high-pitched baby voice, favoring the latter but using the former just enough to sound like a normal person every so often. They talked & talked, in a manner of conversation I can scarcely think to describe in writing, though I'm sure I could muster a good imitation for you. I want you to imagine, for example, a grown woman speaking in a squeaky baby voice saying things like, "You're so fannnncy, always going to fancy places like the Caribbean & leaving wittle old me at home!" & "I want the gweeeeen juice, but I already dwank a diffff'went juice. What should I dooo?" At some point, they began to discuss the possibility that Eggnog Orange Lady's friend had mice in her apartment; the friend said she'd round up all the mice & drop them off at a Chinese restaurant (racist much?), to which Eggnog Orange Lady exclaimed, "Nooo! Not the wittle meecers! We don't eat meecers!"
At one point, Eggnog Orange Lady took the plastic wrapping off of her apricot container & asked
In between these totally bizarre, ear-splitting interactions, the two reverted to totally normal voices & conversations, including a mean-spirited one about what a bitch one of Eggnog Orange Lady's coworkers is – like I said, enough to let me know that they were, in fact, "all there" & that they were just the most annoying. When Meecers Lady said she had to get going, Eggnog Orange Lady screeched (in baby voice, of course), "Noooo! No, no, NO! Stay here with meeeee!" as though she were a child being left at daycare.
Throughout it all, try as I might (& I did, desperately), I was helpless to block them out. I even went back out to my car to search desperately for a pair of headphones that might silence the unending cacophony of weirdness, to no avail.
My frustration just miiiight have been evident, because as she got up to leave, Macbook Girl turned to me & said, just out of earshot of our two fellow diners, "I wish I had another pair of headphones. I'd totally leave them for you."
Nothing like a baby-voiced weirdo to bring two strangers together.