The title may seem a bit old fashioned – just a flavoring of Jane Austin – current reading of steampunk is probably causing that. At heart the sentiment is the same, point of view is everything these days. Furthermore, all around me I am met with people who seem unable to appreciate opposing points of view. Without digging too deep into politics (as this is one of the most abundant areas people seem indifferent to others viewpoints), allow me to explain.
As an exercise in getting my word counts early in the day for my Change Write Now challenge, I have been getting out of bed and heading to the coffee shop to do my writing pre-workday. With an hour and a half easily available, getting a thousand words in is not so large a task. Sure, depending on the morning it may take me a bit to get back into the flow, but it also allows me some distance and perspective. Ironically, this has nothing to do with my point of view opinions today – the coffee shop however, does.
In Madison, Wisconsin along a downtown street that is a tad off the main strips sits a small corner coffee shop called The Victory. It is a Brooklyn style cafe, which is to say the owner moved from Brooklyn to downtown Madison and opened up a coffee shop that he feels embodies the New York experience. For my part, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt as I have never had the “New York Experience.” From my perspective it is a very creative place and somehow just feels… right.
Before I decided to settle on this as my writing spot, we were introduced to a rather interesting decision on the part of the shop owner to not take credit cards or debit cards. They are a cash only business. My wife and I had showed up after a few earlier visits so that she could sign the Recall petitions in a location where she knew they would be submitted. (The Victory made local news when a rock was shot through their front window with a pro-Walker note taped to it.) When we started digging for cash to pay for our coffee the guy just told us, “No worries, pay next time. I know you’ve been here before.” We did have enough cash on us (a small miracle), but I remembered that exchange.
My first couple of days into this new writing routine the barista there in the morning was sporting a real rockabilly vibe. Vicki Pettersson is the real expert on the rockabilly scene (or at least she researched it for a book) and was the only reason I could identify it as such. Seriously, Johnny Cash on the iPod (it pipes through to the speakers in the coffee shop), the make-up and hair done up, pencil skirt and chunky heeled shoes and lots of tattoos. Yeah, pretty rockabilly and totally easy to fall into writing mode. Although I had to admit, writing Los Angeles celebutantes with Johnny Cash on the box was a challenge. Of course this was nothing compared to the first couple of days this week.
Starting Monday morning there was guy there as barista, and I still don’t have a bead on him. I am thinking just angry liberal artist. Not entirely sure. All I know is he took the rather open talk of the coffee shop (the employees aren’t afraid to swear) to a whole new level. It started with the espresso machine’s steam wand breaking. That took him off for a while, apologizing about the “fucking machine taking a dust” to customers looking for drinks involving steamed milk. Really, it may sound strange, but that is one of the things that appeals to me about the place. They aren’t afraid to speak their minds. Hell the owner belted out a few discussing politics when I first visited the place. As I felt the same, we were on the same page.
This latest guy did something that made me laugh though. He was discussing how he felt Woody Harrelson was one of his favorite actors – which of course brought them to Zombieland. “And that’s another thing,” he started in, “I don’t get this whole fucking zombie thing.” His opinion was that he was “so over” the zombie fad, and his old roommate (the one guy he knew with a zombie outbreak plan) was just nuts and kind of a dick. Keep in mind these people have just started to recognize me and none of them know me as Zombie Joe (yet). I almost considered getting involved in the conversation as his only defense of his distaste of zombie media in all forms was a roommate who liked zombies was a dick.
While I decided that would have dragged me from my daily words for sure, I went back to what I was writing, but with a keen ear turned towards the conversation. Which led from zombies to “that whole vampire thing.” I can see the jump, they are both members of the undead. Hell, The Deadliest Warrior did a Zombies vs. Vampires episode, right? Of course he was cutting them from the same cloth and both were equally as bad. Vampires were bad simply based off of Twilight and their depiction of vampires and the overabundance of them. Painting all vampires with the Twilight brush is like painting all erotica with the 50 Shades of Grey brush. So now, not only were zombies stupid, but basically all paranormal romance and urban fantasy – or at least most of them.
Now you might think this would piss me off. You might even think that this would cause me to consider a different place to go write. Hell, it’s not too much a stretch to assume I might judge the guy an asshole and be done with it. Ironically it made me want to get to the point where this guy strikes up discussions with me and see if I might sway him. While his arguments had no logic to it, he didn’t really seem angry about any of it. Well, maybe none save his old roommate who was a dick. It’s all a question of point of view and I have to wonder if his opinion would change if given the right motivation, or if he knew that his latest regular customer was a science fiction/horror writer.
Another fine example is one of those Internet meme things flying around. (The fact that meme is recognized by my computer’s dictionary is an entirely other rant.) I have seen a couple versions, but all of them involve some cartoonish graphic with the statement “real men don’t hit women, they hit men who do.” Now don’t get me wrong, I am no proponent of domestic violence. At the same time, I am a guy who was brought into full sparring at his dojo in high school against our ranking belt that night, her name was Angela and she kicked my ass! So, taken in context of the above meme, if I was to hit back every other guy around me should kick the hell out of me, right? Point of view. If a “real man” comes across a guy beating another guy to hell while the victim doesn’t fight back, why not step in?
I know, it’s semantics, but these are the things that cross my mind in a day. On the way out of the Romantic Times book fair we saw a t-shirt that had a picture of a grandma on it. Above it said “Let’s eat Grandma.” and below it said “Let’s eat, Grandma.” At the very bottom it announced “English can save lives!” My wife had to look at it a couple times before the joke became apparent. Of course that was grammar, not a concept of word choice and placement having an impact on the meaning conveyed due to differing points of view.
Of course that could just be me.
Next Up: Romantic Times, The Experience