well, welcome to boca, honey!

February 28, 2012

florida

Gall. Audacity. Chutzpah. What would you do?

I used to believe that being ballsy was a good thing. Called it Moxy. Would say “Good for you,” for having the nerve to confront someone when it’s easier not to. I suppose it is a good thing, except when you’re DELUDED BEYOND REPAIR—when you believe speaking up against some injustice is an admirable gesture, when it in fact simply makes you vulgar.

I’m sitting outside beneath an umbrella outside of a Starbucks, beside Way Beyond Bagels. I’ve had breakfast at this table, I’ve purchased two bagels that have been stuffed away in my bag—snacks for the kids as I drive them from school to gymnastics—and I’m sipping an iced unsweetened passion lemonade from Fourbucks. I have a folder filled with papers for my writing class tonight, and on my lap is my MacBook Air, a feather of a thing. I’m doing work. I come here to work, uninterrupted, to enjoy the weather, and to eavesdrop (a lifelong pastime that sometimes shifts me into writing gear). So far, I’ve overheard slips of conversations from a woman who owns a home in Old Westbury (where I went to high school), an elderly couple on the phone with their son, telling him about their dog, how she’s had a growth removed, how they’ve just come from the vet, where her stitches were removed and she was groomed. I didn’t realize vets also did grooming. I don’t know why it would surprise me. There are, after all, doctor’s offices that offer facials. I’ve seen a woman with a fine meringue of maroon hair in a pink embroidered tunic, capri jeans, white sandals and a brass purse screech “EXCUSE ME,” at a man standing in the way of her table for all of four seconds. I will hear this voice for the rest of my day. It’s the voice of Estelle Harris. I heard that Rockland County, NY gets a lot of funding for the deaf, “and also kids with Asperger’s.”

The dog just back from the vet, freshly groomed

When the lunch hour begins to amp up, people search for tables. They all find one sooner or later; there isn’t a shortage, and there certainly isn’t a line of customers waiting to pounce. In fact, I’d probably feel guilty monopolizing a table during rush hour. Guilty to the point where I’d feel the need to, for example, to list all the reasons I was entitled to be here, as in: I’ve had breakfast at this table, I’ve purchased two bagels, I’m sipping a drink I bought at the bucks.

Then, a woman with equal parts hair and exposed scalp, looks at me, then down at my table, and shrieks, “You are not allowed to sit there. You’re just reading. Get up.” Get up? I don’t care how old you are; wrinkles do not excuse rude. I look around, just to get some confirmation that I’m not the only one hearing this, that she is in fact squawking. I find validation at the table across from mine, where two women, holding sandwiches mid-bite, have caught my eye and rolled their own.

“Get up? Excuse me, Ma’am, you might look like a woman, but that’s some set of balls you’ve got.”

“So, are you getting up?”

“No,” I say with a smile. “I have every right to be here.”

“You’re not even eating.”

“You’ve got some nerve,” I say.

To which she responds, “No, I don’t. You do.”

We don’t all grow up, no matter how old we are. I say nothing else to her, just open this window to write this post.

When the women at the table across from mine have finished their lunch, they walk over to me and shake their heads, repeating, “So, are you getting up?”

“I can’t even believe,” I say.

“Well, welcome to Boca, honey. It ain’t always pretty.”

But it is fascinating, I think. Though, what if this “courage” is contagious?

Should I feel guilty, sitting here, enjoying my time writing, as a paying customer? Fuck no. And fuck her.

35 Responses to “well, welcome to boca, honey!”

  1. katherine Says:

    On the other coast here, in SW Florida. I will NEVER understand the hatred that spills from people during “season”. The sun is shining on all of us, the breeze is blowing, you just almost ran my 4 year old and I over in the cross walk and YOU are shouting vulgarities while you gesture rudely? I have yet to come up with a good response to this behavior other than to hold my head high, as you have done, and continue being a delightful southern gazelle among jackals. My heart is full of sweetness and light, and my life full of peace and patience (or at lease I strive for this). I am sorry this is not a universal situation, but you will not spill your resentment and utter disdain for the existence of others all over my lap. Fuck her, indeed, and then release it to the azure sky.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      I would also like to add, that this very situation ties in perfectly with another ONGOING, a daily feud at this point, nightmare. The gym. There are psychos who want to know every five minutes how much time you have left on the stationary bike. It’s gotten to the point where I will have to keep resetting it, so they can’t point to my time as proof. If my ass is actually getting exercise and engaged enough to be doing it for longer than 30 minutes, then tough shit. I’m not moving just to “move it move it” on another machine.

      Reply

      • Michelle Says:

        We have serial texters that like to occupy the leg machines at my gym. I’m not talking a short break between sets either. It’s more like, 45 minutes have gone by, NO ONE can do that many sets of squats. Get your ass off of it! I’ve been nice so far but my patience is wearing thin.

        Reply

  2. Nikki Says:

    Wait…since when does Starbucks sell serious enough food to require that people NOT eating should feel bad about taking up a table? Even then, who do people think they are? Ugh. Sometimes I just really hate people. Especially the rude, wrinkled variety.

    Reply

  3. Danielle Says:

    I’m with you on the table. I’m very much, “if I bought something here and choose to park my ass for hours, so be it.” BUT, i do have a pet peeve about people who are only getting drinks/food or only browsing magazines taking the seats next to the wall plugs! I know when they get there that may be the only table available. But I spent hours at seattle’s best/starbucks located in Borders (RIP) and B&N while studying for The Bar and it always pissed me off to see non-tech people taking up the precious tech space around the perimeters of the room (where the plugs are located) when there was plenty of room elsewhere.

    I never said anything, of course. Just pounced on a table when magazine reader sitting alone at a table for four by one of two outlets in the place left. And I always share tables.

    Reply

  4. Teri Johannes Says:

    Hello Stephanie! Life has been busy, but your post caught my eye on FB & reminded me how much I love reading your observations in life. I truly beleive there are many people “out there” who still know what graciousness, manners & kindness are. Here in Phoenix (where we have Season & winter visitors as well) the amount of rudeness to downright violent attitudes prevail. Trying not to get sucked into their viciousness can be difficult at times. I know I want to slam it right back in their faces if my day has had one too many of these nut jobs. Just want to say I admired how you handled the situation w/o sinking to her level but yet still managed to hold your ground. (Literally in this case) I’m going to try hard to remember your example when “one of those days” of one too many nut-jobs has me fighting off my own sense of injustice and anger. Thanks for sharing this, Stephanie! -Teri (used to be known as “3T” from Stumbling Through Life w/Grace)

    Reply

  5. Zezelia Says:

    I had an office mate and then a roommate from Boca. Both had very high self-esteem that was not based in reality and no sense of courtesy whatsoever. I don’t know how you stand it.

    Reply

  6. Audrey Says:

    That’s almost as rude as eavesdropping….my largest pet peeve

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      Then writers are rude, all of them. Because it’s a technique, you sop up life around you, not with the hope to expose anyone, but in a way that says to the universe, “give me something to work with here, would’ya?

      Reply

      • Audrey Says:

        Whenever I realize I am being evesdropped upon at a public place, I always tell a very great, unforgettable and completely untrue story. I always figure, you want to a listen to my private conversation, you might as well hear a great story. Maybe someday I’ll read about one of my stories in someone’s book. I still find it very rude, but I live in a small community, where everyone knows each other. Nothing irritates me more than having a conversation with a friend over dinner, then, the next day, hearing about all the stuff I said from the old farmer who was sitting next to us. I suppose its different in a big town where everyone is a stranger.

        Reply

        • Kayte Says:

          The way I look at it– if you’re talking in a public place loud enough for those around you to hear it, don’t be surprised or annoyed that someone heard you. Have ‘private conversations’ in private places or lower your voice.

          Reply

        • Dionne Says:

          I love realising someone is eavesdropping on me, makes me feel super important

          Reply

  7. Melissa Says:

    I feel ya! (Except in Cali, we call it Fivebucks.) These are the same assholes who cut you off in traffic & then flip you off when you honk at them. Even though they’re the ones who almost killed you & your kids. Fuck her is right. The world needs more moxy & less “assholes.”

    Reply

  8. Kimberly Says:

    I think that as long as there is enough space for customers to eat it should be no problem whatsoever if you are working at the table.

    Admittedly, it can be irritating when I go to a cafe or Starbucks and I purchase food and there is nowhere to eat it because people are not currently eating, but on their laptops or reading. If there is even one place to sit down, then I hardly notice if other people are eating/drinking/on their laptop/reading/gossiping.

    Reply

  9. Green Says:

    That would never happen in SF. Why? Because here the old lady would just walk over and ask if she could join you, and then sit down and SHARE YOUR TABLE. Here, all tables are communal tables. It really threw me the first couple of times, and I was all “This is NOT Benihana!” but now I’m used to it.

    Reply

  10. Ann Says:

    Not to make a sweeping generalization or anything but I cannot stand that stereotypical screeching pushy yankee archetype. It’s the same reason I could never watch The Sopranos. Such a turn off.

    Reply

  11. Helen Says:

    What makes people think they have a right to ‘rent’ a table just because they spend more than one mezzo latte at Starbucks? When did restaurants become peoples private offices?

    Once you’ve bought your coffee you are considered, a ‘paid’ customer, and not a ‘paying’ customer. Get out, go home, watch t.v, clean your bathroom, fuck your neighbour.

    … people who bring their own food to a restaurant, ask for extra anything (EXTRA IS NOT FREE), and go to restaurants JUST TO USE THE WASHROOM. I hate these fucking people.

    Being a bitch is an art, anyone can do it.

    Reply

  12. Kristen Says:

    I am so glad that I am not the only person that had these sort of encounters while doing time in FLA. I would have had to summon every ounce of restraint I had not to bitch-slap her. I don’t care how old she is.

    Reply

  13. mel Says:

    Wow, just wow. Almost makes me glad to live in Hickville. And yeah, fuck her.

    Reply

  14. Hesper Says:

    I really got a kick out of this. I work at a well known medical center in FL and I have heard people actually groan out loud when they find out a pt is from Boca Raton. Generally speaking, they all tend to think they are VIP.

    Reply

  15. Anon Says:

    Do you ever even bother to get photo releases?

    Reply

    • erose Says:

      Anon – Photo releases are not required for photos taken of public scenes. She is well within her rights to post them.

      Stephanie – Fuck her is right. That woman had no right to speak to you that way. Kudos to you for standing your ground.

      Reply

    • Danielle Says:

      Not a direct defense of SK (I hate seeing what are clearly bystanders/strangers on other people’s blogs. not so much background people, but clearly highlighting the stranger), but public places=you could be photographed and end up in the paper/blog/whatever. She’s not using their image to sell anything or for an advertisement so there’s no legal ramification. So that’s the risk you take when you walk out of your door. If you’re on the street, sitting on a park bench, at a table, you can be photographed. She needs no photo releases.

      Reply

    • Dionne Says:

      Don’t think you need one for public space and not sure how the dog would sign it..

      Reply

  16. Kathy Says:

    Boca Raton + Pocahontas = Bocahontas. A snide concatenation devised by residents of Boca Raton, FL to describe women who embrace the flash and pretentious airs of a Boca Raton lifestyle. Unlike Old World aristocracy, the New World princess known as a Bocahontas feels no need to use her leisure in the pursuit of cultural achievements. Instead, she rehearses her sense of self-entitlement ad nauseum on someone else’s credit card. A good example is Eva Langoria’s character on Desperate Housewives (although she is not necessarily a Boca Raton resident) See also “help-basher”.

    Reply

  17. Dionne Says:

    Okay I’m all up in this post but this really makes my blood boil, cause if this mare had just said, ‘hey honey I’ve been on my feet all day, mind if I slip on the table and eat my lunch’ you probably would’ve gone out of your way to accommodate her. I know people are like why should she be nice if SK is in the wrong (you weren’t but..) Why does she care so much? If she gets what she wants in the end it doesn’t bloody matter. Now she’s just a bitch with no seat.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      Exactly. I have, in face, when I’ve seen people searching, offered to share my table with them, if they wanted to sit and eat. I have no problem going communal. If I’m ever stuck without a place to sit, I will ask to join (depending on the place/situation). But that. Who wants to share anything with that?

      Reply

  18. Stef Says:

    That’s a tough area of Boca. Tough, meaning, a large concentration of self-entitled, pushy, inconsiderate people – and not all of them are snowbirds. If it wasn’t for the gorgeous Morikami across the street, I would have avoided it there altogether. Living there for 10 years allowed me to navigate Boca based on mood instead of necessity. It was a strange way to live…

    Reply

  19. Sandra Goldman Says:

    It’s that obnoxious entitlement mentality that gives Boca the “Boca reputation”.
    After the initial shock, it can be quite amusing.
    Thanks for the article. Welcome to Boca :)

    Reply

  20. Widelawns Says:

    I love Way Beyond by the way. So this morning I’m at the dermatologist and I recognized him and I said “Hey, you live in Woodfield, right?” and he groaned. I explained how I used to work there and then I tried to say something nice. “It’s a beautiful place,” I said. “Well it would be without the people,” he replied without an ounce of humor.

    Reply

  21. Two Hot Potatoes Says:

    Can you imagine how exhausting it would be to be so rude all the time? Or I wonder if for this woman it’s just second nature? The worst conversation you’ve had all week was with her, yet she probably didn’t think twice about it.

    And I love eavesdropping. Half the time on “date night” with my significant other we spend 75% of the time eavesdropping the first or second dates around us just so we can talk about them after they’ve left. We obviously lead very exciting lives.

    Reply

  22. Cindy Says:

    Not too much longer and the snowbirds will be heading back up north and we can have our restaurants and roads back again! :)

    Reply

  23. Carol (middle-aged-diva) Says:

    I don’t know how I missed this the first round. Been there, had that kind of experience but didn’t rise to the occasion, as you did. I admire the way you don’t take this kind of shit personally, Stephanie. Oh, I know, the writer thing, but I’m a writer, too, and sometimes I do take it personally. Posts like this are a good reminder to put rude behavior in perspective. Thanks.

    http://www.middle-age-diva.blogspot.com

    Reply

  24. Carey Says:

    The irony of ironies here is that every rude person in Boca is from New York. You have come full circle, and don’t even recognize it….having a beautiful life filled with two little beans changes a person.

    Reply

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