Linda was a really terrible barrista at the only coffee place within miles of where I worked. This coffee place was one of a local chain famous for making really excellent and fresh coffee and espresso drinks.

Linda made neither. She let the coffee sit all day, AT THE VERY LEAST. It was really, profoundly…end times awful. Even quickie mart coffee of the 80’s was never so bad.  She half-assed the espresso drinks or tried to talk you into something else,

“How about an Italian soda?”

“You should try some water with a tea bag in it. Do you have a tea bag with you? I’m completely out…”

(Shuffling over to hide the wall of tea behind her)

Linda was really lazy and probably stealing from this place. Prices seemed to come to her in a vision – what she quoted you rarely agreed with the HUGE marquee of drinks and prices looming above her head.  She rarely rang anything up.  She just handed you the drink she coerced you into buying and named it’s price.

One time she sold me a ‘fresh squeezed orange juice’ produced from behind the counter, near the sink, already with a straw in it; a drink which CLEARLY had been, at one time, someone else’s.

“This one has YOUR NAME ON IT!” Linda jeered, “Two dollars…and..fifty cents. Seventy five!”

I could walk to this place from my office. It took ten minutes, tops. It was a nice break.  I’m a Get-Along-stress.

Linda had a scalp only sparsely occupied by hair. She looked like an adolescent chick; one that had outgrown the cute fuzzy stage and was malingering between feathers and being edible. Or some old man’s ball sack.

Did I mention that coffee is the most important meal of the day to me? Also, I’m a huge sucker for bald women. Really. I just FEEL BAD for that much hairless ugly.

Linda was from New York and had yellow snaggle teeth and a harsh accent. She wasn’t just ragingly incompetent at her job – she seemed mean, actually.  No one ever complained about their shitty coffee or half consumed frozen concentrate orange beverage.  Though everything she did and said seemed like an act of aggression, I never saw her challenged – certainly not by me – we all just sort of went along with her.   However, the once popular coffee shop lost business; the numbers dwindled down to an occasional innocent and the diehards, like me, desperate for another cup of mid-morning coffee, just wanting to get out of the office.

Also, I thought she must really need the job because hopefully she was saving up for a hair transplant.

So one day I’m in there and somehow we get on the topic of food and she tells me that she is Italian (EYEtalian, she says) and can cook the best …some sort of pasta dish… that anyone has ever tasted,

“The first time I made it, my husband cried,” she told me, “It’s that good.”

“Really?” I say, being polite, and thinking that might not be why he was crying, thinking I’ll bet he cries a LOT,

“I love good Italian food.”

This was also a lie. I’m pretty ambivalent about Italian food, except pizza, and wine. I like Mexican food better. I actually ABHOR spaghetti. The idea of those long ass cumbersome noodles just pisses me off.

“You should come to my house sometime for dinner and I’ll make it.” Linda says.

“Yeah!” I agree, hoping she’ll hurry and ring up my coffee, or conjure a price, which she does, overcharging me as usual. I tip her, staring into her farm-animal-shit green eyes, waiting for her to take her hand off my coffee so I can leave.

“How about tonight?” she challenges.

“Oh! Uh….hmmm….”

I can’t think of anything. Not a single excuse that doesn’t sound like, “You’re bald and your teeth look like they should be sunk into a rat skull.”

“Okay!” I say. “Yup. That would work.”

She draws me a map on some napkins. Three of them, actually, because she almost makes the map to scale.

“Bring wine!” she tells me. “Bring a couple bottles.”

She does NOT give me her phone number and so I have NO WAY TO BAIL ON THIS THING.

So, I buy two bottles of good wine and follow the three napkins to Linda’s house, which, though pretty filthy, is in a nice upper middle class subdivision. All the windows have glass and she has a lawn. NOT what I’d pictured.

It’s just me and Linda, though I had hoped to get a peak at the man who weeps over Costco lasagna, which is what she serves, without even commenting on the fact.  I can SEE the BOX in her OVERFLOWING garbage,

“The secret is to add your own herbs,” she tells me, shaking a humongous jar of dried Oregano over the top, followed by a generous dose of Western Family brand parmesan cheese, the kind that requires no refrigeration.

She does not open my wine. I stare at the bottles, willing it. Finally, I ask,

“Should we open one of the bottles of wine I brought?”

“No,” she says, moving them to a cupboard.

“Do you want a beer?” she asks, opening her refrigerator and gesturing in to what looks like a battle between old food and new disease. There is no visible sign of anything resembling a beer. Still,

“Yes. Please,” I say, and she ignores. She closes the refrigerator.

“I didn’t make dessert,” she says, seemingly peeved, “I thought you might bring something.”

She gathers the dishes and continues to seem pissed.

Suddenly, finally, I hate her. She is an awful person.

While she has her back to me tossing dishes into her filthy sink, I walk out.