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Panera Three

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May. 22nd, 2006 | 06:40 pm

To my left, a mother and daughter. The mother is engaging her daughter in a kind of right-of-passage conversation style that I know all too well. Her daughter is finally of the age where they can swap relationship advice on equal grounds; each of them are quietly acknowledging the other as being a knowledgeable and intelligent woman bound by the sae relationship experiences that mold and make us who we are.

A recruitment process is going on between two women at a table across the room. They are just out of earshot but every now and then I catch a word or two: "exclusive opportunity", "its done so much for me", "wise decision", "incredible benefits". There is a gold mesh bag on the table that looks as if it is filled with various cosmetics. I didn't realize Avon did such heavy Sopranoesque negotiations. The woman continues to talk using large hand gestures and downing sips of latte in between buzz-words, and a man in the table across from the booth pretends to make a cellphone call while eavesdropping and smirking every so often. He finally puts the phone down and takes a swig of his chilled energy drink in the palm-sized slender can and places it back down with full purpose next to his yellow legal-pad decorated with random scribbles and notations of what was no doubt a hectic meeting from earlier today. He is one of those types that don't require much description besides, "business guy". His hair brushed with product, freshly shaved with perfectly shaped sideburns, his collar buttoned too tight for the afternoon and his shoes perfectly shined. He is wearing two different socks, and for some reason that delights me to no end. Its just funny somehow... that someone who seems to pay attention to such detail has complete and utter disregard for his protective toe-wear. Those shoes! I'm at least 6 feet away and I can see one of my eyelashes is out of place in the reflection off of those polished wingtips. And yet... he doesn't match his socks? There he sits, McScrambleFoot, lefty is green, righty deep blue. He has the same profile as Tom Cruise... but it isn't working for him. Too bad, though... I bet he was a stud back in the days of "Risky Business".

McJollyGreen stands behind the pick-up counter, tossing out orders of fresh bread sandwiches and simmering bowls of soup. He towers over the counter at over 6 feet tall (I'm assuming... but then again I barely make 5'4 so who am I to judge? Its like an ant sizing up a giraffe!) and flirting with the female customers as they return their buzzing little machines in exchange for soup and coffee.

Some people claim that at any instance they can see into the future. Well I just saw into the past. My last Panera session included two women bursting into motherhood, two green McMommies. During my observations I see people as they are now, but until this moment I have never began to ponder who they used to be, what their individual history is, and what makes them the people I am currently viewing. I just caught a glimpse of what the two McMommies might have been during their teen years. A group of girls walks into my nook and seat themselves in a corner booth. I look up, excited by my new arrivals after wishing for new characters only moments before, and spot the two miniature McMommies. Each girl looks like a smaller carbon-copy of the two mothers from a few days ago, they even have matching Vera bags in tote. I bet the McMommies were like that once, I bet they wore short skirts without the worry of baring cellulite (which, by the way girls, is unfortunately purely hereditary and has nothing to do with weight for the most part...just ask Nicole Kidman) and spent more than 20 minutes getting ready in the morning. They have traded in such badges of youth as the mini skirt for baby rattles and pacifiers, and their Vera Bradley's are now filled to the brim with baby diapers and formula instead of lipglosses and Teen Magazine. I'm so judgemental towards new mothers. I guess thats because I'm so scared of the entire idea of ever becoming a mother. Right now I'm so young and unprepared for even thinking of actually having a child that I look at young mothers and think that having a child is the end of an era; there is some part of my brain that cannot comprehend the existance of a mother with a seperate life which does not involve her children, and is somehow still linked to her past. Its absurd to think that your past is erased after having a child, but isn't it? It changes you, but I guess lots of things cause change in us, but nothing changes someone like having a child. For some people its a change that alters their view of the world, and expands upon what they once thought the definitions of words like love and fulfillment once were. What scares me is that percentage of people who just can't handle the task of being responsible for the life of another human being. Its such a heavy thing to think that the existance of another life is in your hands, and I wonder if these girls have any idea about motherhood, if they realize that one day they too might be little McMommies, feeding whole milk to their terrible-twosie instead of sipping on whipped cream topped mocha lattes.

McScrambleFoot is joined by a colleague in a baby-vomit yellow polo shirt. If you were wondering... his socks match. McBabyVomit looks like Keifer Sutherland with a baby face... and less atrocios. Wait... I have to stop this one for a moment and skip on over to something far more interesting. There is a table directly behind McScrambleFoot that until now has done nothing of interest. Four men, with motorcycle jackets draped on the backs of their chairs, all business men discussing some intricate "game plan" with a detailed proposal, and one guy slightly more laid back than the rest of the lot. He gets up and approaches the table of McMiniMommies and actually proceeds to flirt with them for a few minutes. He is at least 29 or in his early 30s, clearly a McMidLifeCrisis but in this loud-mouth's opinion... he's a McPervert and he needs to keep his nasty little hands to himself and stay away from those 17-year-olds before they become McMommies faaaar too soon. Hmmph. Get a life, perv... a life closer to your age group.

McScrambleFoot's baby-vomit-shirt wearing business buddy departs, and Mister mix-matched socks himself himself says, "Alright, well thanks for your time! Nice pants!" ...Nice pants? Who closes a deal with "nice pants"? This guy needs some serious business ethic... or at least some conversation topics. He leaves (leaving his cellphone unattended...what is with people these days?! This isn't Pleasantville! I can count at least four people within viewing distance that look like they would steal a cellphone... five if you count racial discrimination) and returns a few moments later with another guy, it has become clear that this is some sort of business interview. The guy he is interviewing is wonderful, his entire personality delights me. He looks of Spanish decent, but there is an Asian theme to his nose and hair, and he has a deep Southern accent. He's planning on getting married soon, and he is patiently waiting until his girlfriend is finished with college before marrying, so that she can focus on her studies. He glows at the question "Are you married?" as he pours out all of this information about how proud he is of his fiance, and how studious she is. His support and enthusiasm for her is amazing. He should be hired on the spot if you ask me.

Other characters on this nook include a quiet observer who sits at a table for six all by himself, and glances at me far too often. I go to pick up my Veggie Sandwich (they have yet to completely phase it out) and see a girl dressed in all lime-green picking up an iced Green Tea. Panera Bread's green tea is... the color of green M&Ms. I hate it when people order drinks to match their outfits. No I don't... I do it, actually.

McScrambleFoot is running some kind of a pyramid scam, I just heard the words "6 or 7 figure salary" and "you make money for you and it makes money for us, theres no risk!" and he is beginning every sentence with "well in my opinion" or, "in the way I see it" and its making my stomach hurt. I have no idea what it is exactly that this guy is trying to sell, but he ain't gettin me as a buyer. Someone he knows sits at the table beside him, and to get his attention... ScrambleFoot taps the guy on the ass with his high-polish shoes. What is wrong with this guy? I bet he's a hugger.

A girl with a fake Louis Vuitton speedy bag dangling from the niche of her skinny inner elbow and even skinner boyfriend next to her gingerly tip toe into my nook at seat themselves at a booth. How precious. Gag me, hang me from a tree, kill me in all kinds of slow and torturous ways before I ever carry around a fake Louis Vuitton bag. It isn't worth it girls. And the pattern is supposed to be upside-down on one side because LV uses one piece of leather for the main flaps of the bag, and as warn as that bag is the topstitching shouldn't be such bright yellow anymore. Ok I'll stop now... Oh Lord she is spewing about child labor and how "totally wrong" it is... I wonder who she thinks made that little replica bag?

McPeepingTom who was staring at me in awkward ways from across the room earlier is apparently a colleague of the mixed-matched-socks man interviewing potential idiots for his little pyramid scam. Hmmm... a panera pyramid scam, how quaint. This guy is talking about how poorly he types... and he is high up in the business world? I would hope someone would be able to realize that anyone who claims to be the CEO of a "6 to 7 digit salary" company that can't touch type is clearly a fake. What a jerk. I'm fed up with this guy.

The guy in front of me has a book I am all too familiar with; "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" was the guidebook of the foundations of my very scarce formal art training. I recommend it, it has some great techniques for people who have yet to even pick up a sketch book or pencil.

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