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How long can you outstay your welcome in a coffee shop? I’m sure you already know that you can do this without any purchase and not have any of the personnel bother you. You can sit outside and have a smoke, or stay inside, talk to a friend or pretend to wait for your order, or a friend, or a date who never shows up.

But what if you want to stay for a really long time? Whether you’ve got a book to read or papers to study or a laptop to do whatever business you can do with it, you will eventually need to make a purchase of at least their cheapest product—maybe a lollipop or extra syrup.

Right now, I am sitting alone in a Greenbelt coffee shop on a Friday night, and I hope you do not think I am square for hanging out with myself when everyone’s in costume celebrating Halloween tonight. It’s past ten in the evening, I can see people in line for their orders, no seats guaranteed. And here I am, sitting on one of the shop’s woven chairs with aluminum framing, one-third of my espresso pistachio biscotti left, and it’s been more than an hour since. “Ooh, her biscotti’s left alone while she’s doing something else. And look—crumbs all over—she’s made a little mess which means she must be busy or too enthralled with her other activity that she cannot even mind her food that much.” In reality though, I want to mind it more than you think, give it the attention it deserves; it’s food, for crying out loud. But as long as I plan to stay here, I cannot gobble this hard biscuit which we call biscotti.

Now that’s exactly why you cannot consume what you order in a coffee shop at a time like this. There are at least a dozen pair of eyes prying for an empty seat. It’s a tough competition—how do you stay in line AND race to that vacant spot AND leave your bag on the table to mark your territory? You need strategy and a quick response to this crisis, especially without a buddy around. If you already have a table, you are no target for this as long as you leave some food or coffee on your table. Leave your partially bitten cookie or half-eaten cheesecake on the plate. Again, make sure you have crumbs on the table to add some drama, how you’ve ignored your edibles for another. If drinking a frappuccino, make sure there’s some content left and make sure it’s in view. If it’s in a paper cup, then it won’t be a problem. Pretend to sip once in a while to dodge any doubt from unseated customers.

Bottom line is, you have immunity from being kicked out of the place as long as you have your leftovers displayed. Besides, you are only getting your money’s worth, right? You really do have every right to stay where you are, you just need to showcase your evidence if you don’t want the awkward glances that 1. look at you 2. look at the door where you can exit 3. look at the food and drink they are holding 4. look at you again.

Everyone brushes their teeth. I know that. Anybody who can afford some toothpaste and a toothbrush does this.

Around the house, we all do this after meals, just like most households do. But we can’t stay put in front of the sink. It runs in the family. We just have to move around, and that includes me. This is how it happens: from the cup that holds our brushes, I take the green one, and squeeze out some red minty gel onto the bristles. I run it under the tap for less than a second, and put it in my mouth. I start brushing my teeth…and then I get bored.

Different things can happen in the next few minutes, but one thing’s for sure: I have to walk around. And this takes me to places. I can go to the living room, sit on a couch and see what’s on the telly. Sometimes, I even try to start a conversation with my mom. “Whatssch dhij yo do thodjay?” “What?” And I have to repeat.

Seriously, the most boring thing to do while brushing your teeth is to stare into a sink or a mirror and wait to finish. Why waste your time and stand for the next two or three minutes, when you can do it while a) watching the news b) taking a leak c) sitting down?

Whenever I am staying over at someone’s house, and I have to brush my teeth within those four walls and pretend my feet are cemented to the ground just so I can show some manners, the truth is I am really itching to head for the bedroom and join whatever board game is being played at the moment.

It’s the nicest word to use when you have nothing better to say. It’s tossed around often, but not as sickening as the very loathsome word ‘like’ in every, like, sentence—probably because nice is a subtle and indirect lifesaver. And just like a hanky or a skill, this word is very handy in various circumstances.

Mostly this word is used to deviate from awkwardness. Someone shows you a drawing, an essay, or even a masterpiece—and what can you do? You are just not as impressed as he or she expects you to be. Hence, this is your cue to say with a slight nod coupled with a smile (the degree of which is at your disposal), that’s nice!

Second, it comes in handy when in conversation with another, and he or she blurts out things like I have a bug collection in my drawer or I like bananas out of context. In fact, I’ve written about this matter before for a required blog in one of my classes. It’s a template of how to address this situation.

Here’s an excerpt from that entry:

“You always start off by looking into her eyes with your mouth slightly open. Softly say ‘ahh’ while she is still talking. Nod a bit with your mouth shut or your lips pursed until she finishes.

When she’s done, give her a blank face and follow through by saying either of these two:

  • Nice to know!
  • Good for you!

Say both if you wish. Next, you combine it with any of the following:

  • Cannot live without knowing that fact!
  • Very informative!
  • You made my day!
  • That information just made my day!
  • That’s so inspirational!
  • It’s an honor to be blessed with such information!

Say it like you mean it. I suggest you also use hand gestures and try to look overwhelmed by the information that has been imparted to you.”

Well, this is good if sarcasm is a better option. This actually started as a joke among my friends.

Moving on, nice is your best bet for lack of a better word, especially if you have limited time to respond. Nice building! Nice job! Nice sneakers! Nice top! Nice place! Nice haircut! Nice day today, isn’t it! There are also enough pop songs containing the word, which aren’t so bad. An expanded vocabulary would make for a smarter-sounding—although not necessarily smarter—conversation, but ‘nice’ is convenient enough to be understood.

Last, this word is used when you genuinely mean what it expresses. Saying it often doesn’t make it as detestable as some overused words, because injecting it into conversations can only mean two things: something really is nice, or you’re just being nice.  At least it means something, in whatever sense that may be.

I have nothing against the word nice. I’m actually grateful for it, as I use it as often as I described it in this entry. It’s one word that yields satisfactory results when socializing. How many words can do that?