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I'm Just Sayin'...Wisconsin ain’t France
by John Pederson
Issue 6
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What could be more mundane than a 22-year-old hipster searching for inspiration at the corner coffee shop? Even in my mind’s eye I can’t pick myself out of this crowd. I stare out the window habitually cracking my knuckles and wish I had a cooler nervous habit, like smoking cigarettes I rolled myself.

Maybe it’s not all me, maybe if this place was a bit more “alternative” or inspiring some women might misread my blank stare as introspection. She’d sit across the room and we could pretend that we weren’t looking at each other. Maybe we’d even have “a moment.”

If I was back in France, surely my lack of productivity would be misconstrued into something grand - language barriers and narrow streets are perfect for that sort of thing. In Europe I could repaint this entire scene with a romantic brush.

“Writing is like talking to a beautiful French woman,” I would write. “It only works when you speak with a simple, clear and sincere tone...” I would jot down the caffeine-laced epiphanies as they spun around my head, like rush hour at the Place de Gaulle. My internal monologue would not only be confident—but poetic—as I made my way to her table:

Don’t be in a rush, I would tell myself. In Nice, no one is in a hurry. It’s all here... It’s just a matter of slowing down enough to see it, of reading her body language. Being confused is inevitable, just get comfortable with it—she’ll think it’s cute. Show that you’re interested in your new environment and remember that it’s her home—not a page from your Lonely Planet guide. Be polite, but not too polite… You are—after all—in France. Remember in this place you are also exotic, so stay within yourself and explore its possibilities. Ask questions carefully, too many will wear out her English... Ask the right questions, the ones that reveal curiosity and sensitivity. And most of all, don’t sweat the ending. You must let your heart be broken, if this is how she leaves it… But wait until she leaves it, until you’re sipping a glass of wine in the market square, scribbling down your thoughts with a pen you stole from the souvenir stand without thinking twice about it.

But that’s France, and this is the University of Wisconsin. Here even my monologue is mundane. I’m just another neurotic kid from the suburbs—we’re as common as ketchup on French fries. Besides, it’s too damn cold to trek down to the coffee shop every time I need a hit of inspiration from a curious second glance.

No amount of cappuccino—no matter how fairly traded—could deliver a dose of intrigue worth that frigid trip. In this cold reality it’s nice to have warm memories.

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