cafe platitude

Monday, aug. 18, 2008   |   0 comments

There is this awful hippie restaurant here in the bay area called Cafe Gratitude, where every last raw, vegan item on the menu has an unforgivably self-affirming name, like “I Am Fulfilled” and “I Am Dazzling.” And when you order these dishes, you’re not allowed to just say, “I’ll have the kale.” They actually make you say it: “I’ll have the ‘I am Giving.’” And then the waiter turns it back on you, affirming that indeed “You ARE giving!” “You ARE dazzling!” Horrible, horrible.

While generally I believe in the value of positive reinforcement, I think it only works if it comes from a reliable source, for instance someone not a waiter hoping for a tip. And also the message has to be meaningful, something beyond words that translate to just “carrot avocado soup”?

Sadly their food is kind of tasty, jerks. But their whole shitty concept makes me so crabby, I refuse to interact with them. So like a kid getting someone to buy wine coolers at the 7-11, I sent my friend Megan (who speaks hippie) up to the Cafe Gratitude at the farmers market (where of course they have a booth), and she purchased me three I Am Insightfuls as I stood off to the side, trying not to faint from rolling my eyes so hard. As the guy handed back the change, he asked Megan, his face all punch-me-in-the-face-please serene, “So what core value do you care about most?” (Oh and that’s another one of their gimmicks: they end each visit by asking you a metaphysical question about your life philosophy or whatever. There’s even a board game, possibly the most perfect instrument of Evany-torture ever imagined, board game (oh no) + hippie spiel (help!).) And Megan, who is nice, gave him a considered answer. “Integrity” I think she said, or maybe “Honesty.” He nodded sagely, giving his royal approval of her core values, and then he craned his neck up and over at me, and said, “And what about you? What’s your core value?”

I shook my head no, oh no. But he just kept staring at me with zen-like expectancy, so finally I muttered out a defiant, “Privacy…how about.” Pow! Take that! But he just kept smiling his hippie face in loving, unflapped support of me and my selfish reluctance to forthcome. Yes, you ARE judgmental. You ARE withholding! Re-reminding me once again of the age-old lesson about how verbal sparring with a highminded hippie is like punching an animated sponge: the sticks and stones, they bounce right off the hippie, while you just huff and puff and get very, very tired.


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