With the bad, one must find the good where they can. The loss of the pseudo-intellectual city dweller’s go-to coffee shop amid the coronavirus outbreak has been an undeniable gut punch to small businesses that somehow seemed to have gotten less of a financial bailout from the government than the major corporations (quelle surprise, for it’s just like when the legal mafia a.k.a. government bailed out the banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis). Those establishments that have returned have done so via the encouragement of the “take away” method–as in, grab your drink and get the fuck out. Or, more tragic still for those white men who once sought the coffee shop as their chief hub of “business operations,” the latest acceptable, socially distanced configurations of tables and chairs have made it more of a challenge for them to both 1) find a power outlet (it has a certain double entendre quality here) that will allow them to while the whole day there on their computer and 2) get close enough to a prospective female to brag to about the book he’s fake working on.
The dwindling existence of the white male writer in the modern incarnation has been very much dependent on the philosophy of: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Except, in this case, it’s: “If a white man clacks away on his keyboard and no one is around to hear it, is he even really writing a book?” A manifesto about his maltreatment in the modern age. About the double standard against him that “allows” women to talk shit about him and get away with it but not the other way around. And yes, many men have come to realize the gravity of not being able to bloviate in public–have learned just how important it is to their “process.” How utterly significant it is to stroking their ego–to be able to approach a random girl sitting nearby him in a cafe and strike up a conversation that feigns interest in her, while ultimately aimed only at talking about himself, his current “projects” (which you can find, ostensibly, nowhere online).
She’ll sit there politely, nodding along, because that’s what women do, and are expected to do. Even when his surgical mask (which he’s only wearing because he would have been kicked out otherwise) starts to slip off–and, in turn, triggers the image of him letting his condom slip off when he inserts his pathetic pencil dick inside of someone–she’ll still sit there, patiently listening. Because that is the intrinsic privilege of the blanco male: to be listened to whenever he starts talking. How do you think so many blowhards have been published over the decades, after all? All the while, she’s silently praying it will end so that she might get back to her own legitimate work. And what makes a woman’s writing more “legitimate,” you might ask? Well, let’s just say there’s an inherent quality of pureness to it that the male can never seem to capture (which is part of where his latent contempt for women stems from), try as he might and particularly in these times when so many are still desperately clinging to the dominance of patriarchy instead of letting it go and making way for a better, kinder system. But no, there he is still gab, gab, gabbing about how he’s been working on his Great American Novel for the past five years. Does he know the Great American Novel is now a twenty-page downloadable ebook? Or, if you’re lucky enough to be related to someone famous, a biography of that person. He probably has no idea who bell hooks is, and if he does, it’s because he’s trying to fit in with the conversation of the moment. To do his best to assure he knows there’s a “movement” happening (silly little boy, it’s been happening. Just because you were at last forced to recognize it instead of ignoring it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t, or that you can suddenly somehow “commodify” it for your own attempts at grasping to relevancy).
The most valuable aspect of the coffee shop to the white male writer was that it offered a place for him to grandstand. If not to talk to people who didn’t want to listen, then at least go through the peacock pageantry of showing off that he’s a Writer. And what’s most incredible of all is that, despite the decimation of this milieu as we once knew it, the white male still feels perfectly comfortable “weighing in,” “offering an opinion” through any other non-tangible settings available. No one wants it. Everyone has literally had centuries of it already, we’re all very versed in the innermost fears and desires of the homme blanc. It would now be both gracious and prudent for him to pack up his fucking laptop and exit the metaphorical and literal premises before someone breaks the device over his head. Be grateful no one throws eggs at you as you walk down the street, rather than offended that no one rolls out the red carpet.
Maybe speaking through the voice of someone the white male writer can still appreciate and understand–Charles Bukowski–will help cushion the blow of the coffee shop’s gradual demise (or, at least, its veering away from the pre-pandemic model): “There is only one place to write and that is alone at a typewriter. The writer who has to go into the streets is a writer who does not know the streets.” Indeed, that speaks to the, shall we say, namby-pamby characteristics of most white male “scribes.” The writer seeking a “community” or attempting to re-create the glory days of congregating at places like the Algonquin needs to look inside his feeble heart and ask what–who–he’s really writing for. The betterment of society/furtherment of humanity or the so-called “renown” of being able to say he’s been published (even if only in an email)? Whatever the answer, like Bukowski iterated, stay the fuck inside your own makeshift coffee shop of an apartment (or, more likely, palatial house) to find it.