By Blair G. Moluba, Special to The Brutal Times, CHICAGO — It’s not easy to find a quiet cafe where you can unwind and catch up on work on your laptop while checking your texts on your phone.
So I was overjoyed when I stumbled onto an almost empty java joint on the Windy City’s east side Rue de Booboomuck. There was no sign to inform me of its name, but the menu the waiter slid onto my table bore the name Cafe Sur la Booboomuck.
But no sooner did I learn that name when I also saw the table give a slight wobble.
Fucking hell, I thought — the waiter’s given me a wobbly table.
I looked up from the still wobbling menu, intending to tell the waiter I had no intention of accepting such seating, but he had already gone.
While he was away, I tested my table. Just the touch of a menu had made it wobble. How was it going to react to say a cup of coffee or that plus a plate of steaming spaghetti?
I lightly rested my left hand on the table. It gave way immediately, lurching to the right and back and drawing the attention of an elderly woman seated a mere foot away.
“Hey! Watch it!” she cried, and lunged over her handbag.
This fucking table was a nightmare. There was no way I was going to sit there.
Just then, the waiter appeared, and said, “May I take your order, madame?”
Hold on. You gave me a wobbly table.
You gave me a — look, I have no intention of sitting here.
“Would you like me to place something under one of its legs? Say, a piece of cardboard?”
No. No, I’d like to move to another table.
“I’m sorry, madame. all the other tables are taken.”
What are you talking about? There’s hardly anyone else here.
“Oh, but they’re reserved. The cafe starts filling up around 1 p.m.”
Sure enough he was right — the cafe suddenly did start filling up.
But I wasn’t going to take it. I said, “Look, let’s not fuck around with little bits of cardboard, OK? I make furniture for a living. I’ll build you a table right here if you let me sit at it.”
I don’t know, madame. It sounds a little curious, this whole operation.
“I have a saw right here,” I said, reaching over my left shoulder and pulling my saw out of its holster on my back from between my jean shirt and jean jacket.
That’s quite impressive, madame, but where will you find the wood?
I pointed across the street. There was a 600-year-old elm, about 60 feet high.
But madame, those trees are protected. They are–
But I was already across the street and in position hugging the tree and felling it with the saw. It wasn’t easy. But I was getting hungry and I wanted to get things finished as fast as I could so I could finally try the cafe’s cuisine and post some pics on my Tik Tok channel.
The waiter didn’t help things, either. Here I am, back on the cafe’s terrace, nailing branches together for the table’s legs, and the waiter is just shrieking. Just complaining, complaining, complaining.
But when the table was done…he looks at me and says…”I like it. I never expected I would say this, and we have called the police, but it…it really looks fantastic.”
Great. Now can I order some fucking food and maybe a coffee, perhaps?
“Of course, madame. Or perhaps, in light of your artistic talents, I should call you “Sensei.”
Yeah, sure, whatever. I’ll have the spaghetti Bolsonaro and an Americano but with milk and don’t give me any shit about it.
“Of course, Sensei. As you wish. And shall I wash your saw for you, in case you need to…cut down more trees today?”
No. The saw never leaves my side. I’ve heard that trick before.
“My apologies…Sensei. I will return with your nibbles.”
Then he left. I leaned back in the wire chair that pinched my bum in about 15 places and rested my right elbow on my new table.