Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

Getting started

There used to be a coffeehouse in Seattle called The Last Exit. It was Seattle's oldest coffeehouse, founded 1967, and it's the original of all the "Seattle style" coffeehouses you find everywhere now. Thing is, they're all modeled on it, but at three removes: they all imitate Starbucks, but Starbucks is a knockoff of a half-dozen older Seattle coffeehouses, that were all in turn imitating the Exit. And they all lack the key thing that made The Last Exit work as a place for people to hang out and meet new people: big tables.

Most people (most Americans, anyway) aren't willing to walk up to a stranger and ask to share their table. But the Exit had a half-dozen large round tables — tables that would seat eight people with plenty of elbow room, and a dozen if they were friendly. Even someone as shy and gawky as I was at eighteen could feel comfortable taking a chair at one of these tables that already had one or two people at it. And then more people would show up, and someone would ask if you wanted to split a pot of coffee, and before you knew it you'd be in a conversation. (The Exit didn't sell coffee by the cup, they sold it by the pot, and a pot was four cups — more than most people want to drink on their own. I hadn't thought of it before, but "split a pot of coffee?" was probably the other major ingredient in making the Exit such an easy place to meet new people.)

I'm really not much less shy now than I was at eighteen, but now I live 3000 miles from Seattle, and I've never found another place like the Exit. My friend Kareila likes it here at livejournal, though, and I looked around and thought maybe this is a place I can find some of what I miss about the Exit.

So: anybody want to split a pot of coffee?

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