Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Insanity at Sweet Melissa

A man, 30-something, academic, stature just larger than diminutive, sits at a small circular table at Sweet Melissa cafe on Court St. in Cobble Hill. He scribbles in a notebook, rearranging his thoughts verbally and graphically. He is puzzled. Through one lens, things are, more or less as they normally are with normal distributions and even normal surprises. Let the shadows fall on things just a little differently though and...

Rod Barajas walks in and orders a cappuccino and a latte- he knows he loves one of them, but he can't remember which, and selects several fine cupcakes:
"For my fellow men in masks who guard home; who council are most important unit; who make up for what they lack in speed with power and knowledge and by projecting a surehandedness that others find comforting."

The cashier was completely bewildered. Working in retail, she interacted with any number of characters, but this one offered no hint of an explanation. He didn't seem crazy, but if the shadows on his face were altered just so...

Meanwhile the man at the table with the notepad was stunned by the coincidence, for the object of his confusion had been none other than Rod Barajas.

"It will make sense in time," Rod told the cashier, but the man at the table, so wrapped up in layers of his own contexts, thought the comment was directed at him.

"I know, of course it will. You will play out the season and things will fall one way or another, but it's my job to figure that out before you play the games."

Now it was Rod making the same evaluation of the man that the cashier had made of him and that the man had made of his calculations. He certainly didn't seem crazy, but the way he responded to a question that wasn't his, his over-involvement with his notepad, the way the shadows danced across his face...

"Nate Silver," said the man, extending a hand. Rod gave his name, and Nate said, "I know, I've been trying to decipher a mystery about you."

Hmmm, thought Rod. This man was probably crazy.

"You see," continued Nate, "I'm a projector." (and your damn certifiable thought Rod) "And my standard model shows you having a decent season- not getting on base much, but with some power. 230/280/390, something like that. But then, now here's where things get wacky, change one little thing, and you're about 50-50 to set the single season home run record."

"Of course it's 50-50," the cashier chimed in, as she refilled the cupcake tray. "Either it will happen or it won't. Just flip a coin."

"Well," countered Nate, "would you say it's 50-50 we have an earthquake in the next ten seconds?"

She replied: "yup."

Barajas sipped his cappuccino, then his latte. Usually he could tell (though he never remembered) which one he liked, but all this madness had thrown him off. He turned to the cashier.

"What is the difference between these two drinks?"

"I don't know."

"This is not possible. You just made both of them."

"When someone orders a drink, I just think the name of it, and while I'm thinking my hands are doing some stuff, and I keep thinking it until I have a full cup in front of me. I don't know what I do though."

As Rod left the cafe, he couldn't help thinking that insanity resided in that little pocket of space and time he had just experienced, but it was impossible to tell who had it. Depending on perspective, the man, the lady and himself all seemed perfectly sane or perfectly crazy. It bothered him until he crossed the street and sipped the latte again.

"Ah, this is the one I like!" he cried. He gave the cappuccino to the owner of the Community Bookstore who was enjoying a cigarette just outside. He nodded at Rod as he walked away, a real skip in his step.

"Friggin lunatic," he muttered.

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