Wednesday, February 24, 2010




1 a : characterized by or involving action or change without preparation or warning : unexpected b : unceremoniously curt c : lacking smoothness or continuity
2 : giving the impression of being cut or broken off; especially : involving a sudden steep rise or drop

it is hard not to relate the word ABRUPT with things like death or break-ups, traumatic events that, even if planned or expected, seem like falling off an edge into an abyss of unfamiliarity. but i don't want to write about these things today. so instead, i'm going to write about the star pin cafe.

Dramatis Personae

me: naive eighteen-year-old, not in college, still cynical, wants to be an artist, seeking work, not ready for responsibility
laura: other naive eighteen-year-old, not in college, just out-of-the-closet, wants to be an actress, seeking work, not ready for responsibility
susan: early thirties, dresses in business casual, not quite out-of-the-closet, opening a cafe, eats an obscene amount of funyons, not ready for responsibility
rob: early thirties, dresses in business casual, not quite out-of-the-closet, opening a cafe with susan, lives off rich father, not ready for responsibility
anthony: rob's baby brother, fat, FAT, works for his father doing maintenance in the building where they rent offices, probably the only person with any responsibility, we refer to him as fat bastard
john: rob and anthony's father, old irish dude, owns a building where he rents offices, likes egg salad sandwiches, anthony is responsible for him, we refer to him as not as fat but more bastard, bastard
lisa: john's secretary, late twenties, young mother, attractive and vacant, living off her slowly fading looks, unhealthily obsessed with enrique iglesias

laura knows susan and rob from community theatre. they are opening up a cafe in the first-floor space at the bottom of john's building. the building is sandwiched among a bunch of factories in the housatonic river valley. it is their plan to make coffee, breakfast and lunch for the factory workers. they hire laura and i to do this while they sit around and eat, schmooz and do nothing. they call it the star pin cafe. it opens two days before christmas in 1998.

laura and i do everything. she opens the cafe and i close it. we pay the bills, place the orders and make runs to costco to buy snapple and ice cream novelties. susan and rob are barely there, passing in and out of the cafe like apparitions. about two months into the venture they bail. they disappear. no one knows where they have gone or if they have gone there together. laura and i keep running the star pin. we need jobs. it is making some money, so john, who was funding the whole project anyway, continues to pay us.

summer comes. the cafe is HOT. there is no air conditioner. laura calls me one day from inside the refrigerator.

i cleaned out the bottom shelf of the fridge and took the cordless in here. it's took fucking hot. i'm just calling so someone knows i'm in here in case the door closes behind me and i can't get out.

later that week, laura quits because it is too hot and no one is doing anything about it. i proceed to run the cafe on my own. i work 6:30 am to 4 pm monday through friday, and make runs to costco on my weekends to buy supplies. they pay me $8.50 an hour.

i am overworked and i get REALLY sick. it's during a heat wave. i am so sick that i pass out twice on my mother's kitchen floor. i call out of work for the first time. when i get back they seem to feel bad and offer me a paid vacation, saying lisa and anthony will run the cafe in my absence. i take it.

when i come back a week later, everything is gone. they have cleared the place out. i go up to lisa's office. she tells me that john decided to close the star pin because it wasn't making any money. he found a paint-ball supply retailer that wanted to rent the space. i asked why they didn't tell me earlier.

that was what the paid vacation was for, honey. i'm sorry.

i feel betrayed. i come back late that night to steal anything they have left: a jim croce three-disc collection, some knives, a boar's head dry-erase board. the place is empty.

aside from death and break-ups, the closing of the star pin cafe is the most ABRUPT thing that has ever happened to me. that is, without my doing. but alas, i am here, and all of those people (besides laura who is in new mexico) are probably still working on canal street in shelton, connecticut.


  1. i'm sorry.
    pastry gourmet doesnt seem so bad afterall.

  2. Seriously WTF. Just thinking about the star pin a few days ago. I remember James took that giant box of straws and we had it for like ten years. Man I loved that place. Good pound cakes..... Do you know there's a bunch of swanky apartment buildings down there now? It's kind of strange.