It was a good day, I’d managed to find a coffee shop that didn’t in some way resemble a Google Boardroom. It was packed though, people were waiting in line. I thought there wouldn’t be much chance of sitting down for my coffee. I remember I picked up a Kit Kat along with my coffee. As I finished my purchase, a woman left a table where she’d been sitting next to a handsome black chap, well dressed, and reading the New York Times in what I considered to be a very old fashioned way, spread out between his arms and held up in front of his face. I peered over the top and asked if I might occupy the vacant seat? He closed his paper momentarily, smiled, then raised his paper wide again. It had been a hectic morning and I was feeling a little flustered, so it was good just to sit down and relax. I sat for a couple of minutes observing what American’s do when having coffee. Americans, it seems to me, no longer relax in coffee shops. I turned back to take a sip of my coffee only to find my table companion had eaten my Kit Kat, having opened it, broken off two fingers, and settled back into his paper. My shock was almost too much, I mean I’d heard so many stories about the effrontery of Americans, but this was a stretch. Being an Englishman I was unable to simply accept that this action, carried out by someone who appeared to be perfectly sane, handsome, quite obviously an intelligent chap, had had the audacity to go ahead and open my Kit Kat and then eat it!
Several things, I recall, ran simultaneously through my mind; either he was insane, he had a gun, or he was starving…none of which lingered too long, but long enough for this very tall, very athletic man, to completely finish up the rest of my Kit Kat. Not only did he finish, but returned my incredulous stare as if I was in some way to blame for his hunger! It was a standoff. I stared him down, he stared back. I couldn’t simply let him do this, take advantage of me not yet knowing the culture. I was starting to think what my first verbal remark to him might be: ‘I’m sorry you’re starving, can I buy you another?’ And was about to say just this when the young man stood up, revealing the six-feet-seven-inches of muscled torso, and took himself back to the now empty counter where he purchased a blueberry muffin! Having returned to the table he sat his purchase down, then left again in the direction of the rest room. ‘Thank you, Lord, for presenting me with this opportunity,’ I told myself, then raised up the muffin and took the hugest bite my mouth could accommodate. I picked up my coffee and left.
This would, I thought, teach the American gentleman that fooling around with an Englishman was not as simple a matter as picking up the stranger’s Kit Kat bar which he’d just purchased, and eating it. Feeling distinctly satisfied with the outcome, even though I looked like a chipmunk, my mouth full of muffin, reached my car where I put my hand in my pocket for my car keys, only to pull out my OWN Kit Kat!
The blueberry muffin, still pasty in my mouth simply refused to go down my throat! My color had flushed, my hands, I vividly recall, had started to tremble! I could have gone back, maybe explained what I believed had happened, but remembered he was a six-feet-seven-inch athlete, and I’m a five-foot-seven-inch, seventy-year-old gnome! So I did what thousands of years of being English had taught me, I sounded the retreat!