On Saturday morning my chances at becoming a hip café reviewer took a hit. Some friends and I were invited to the ‘soft opening’ of a new branch of a mainstay London café called Caravan.
At first I thought a ‘soft opening’ was a disgusting euphemism but it turns out it just refers to a pilot test of sorts. It is to test out how a new establishment functions.
“This’ll be the perfect entry for my new café review blog, CäfeCäfCaf, it’s going to incorporate time lapse video and quotes from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish”, I told my friends, as I set up my expensive equipment (it was a birthday and a Christmas present from my parents) next to our table. “Basically, I want to do for café reviews what Banksy did for graffiti, make it accessible and non-threatening for middle class white kids who want to appear edgy.”
I ordered the unpretentious corn & morcilla fritters with avocado and paprika crème fraiche accompanied by poached eggs and boar sausage and a delightful single-origin coffee from Rwanda. “Mmm. This humble peasant food reminds me of something Foucault once said”, I made an effort to speak loudly enough so the people at the next table could be awed by my incredible sophistication,
“He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribed in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection.”
A waiter approached, “excuse me sir can you please stop yelling”.
“Man, keep on drinking the Kool aid conformist” I replied, rolling my eyes.
The waiter left and returned with the manager, “Um, we’d appreciate if you didn’t call our waiters conformists’, he continued, ‘I mean, have you seen his Obey Propaganda t-shirt?” The manager motioned at the waiter’s torso, “or the fact that his ears are gauged like a whole inch” he poked his finger through the gap in the waiters ear lobe, “we are definitely not conformists”.
“God, this place is less of a Caravan and more of a Panopticon”, I nudged my friend with my elbow, she didn’t seem to hear.
“Okay, sir, obviously you are not interested in following our rules” he thumbed over his shoulder at a small sign, it read, Strictly no non-Zizek philosophy references.
“Fine, I don’t want to sup with fascists anyway!”, I punctuated this comment by swiping my plate onto the floor. It smashed, splattering food all over my shoes, “oh hell, paprika crème fraiche will never come out of suede” I brushed at my feet. But I quickly noticed something. The clatter had silenced the restaurant. I had an audience. I needed to capitalize, it was time to establish that ‘anti-establishment’ look I had been going for.
I popped my collar snapped my fingers and pointed towards the door, “let’s roll gang” I ordered “this place is definitely getting CäfeCäfCaf.tumblr.com’s ‘meh’ rating!”. I stood, picked up my time-lapse tripod and began strutting through the silent restaurant. When I was about half way through I realized that none of my friends had, ‘rolled’, they were still sitting at the table staring at their food.
“Psst. Guys’, I whispered audibly across the restaurant, “guys, I said let’s roll”, I beckoned desperately, they didn’t respond. “Guy’s please”, I implored them in a low whine, ‘pleeeeeease!’ They didn’t move. “Hrmph, I hate you!”, my voice cracked as I became weepy. I turned and made my way to the exit, the restaurant was a tight space, I had squeeze between chairs and tables to get out. I accidentally hit a woman in the head with my tripod.
I spent the next hour standing outside the restaurant, sobbing, as I stared through the front door watching everybody enjoy free brunch.