Today, I experienced a phenomelbourne. Yes that’s the word baby of phenomenon and Melbourne, because I think it’s the only world that accurately describes my morning. No I don’t think you should drop it in conversations unless you want to appear socially inept.
But wordisms aside, when we think of Melbourne, I’m sure it conjures up different images for each of us. Hormonal weather and aesthetically pleasing/overpriced foods are some of the things that come to mind for me, and to my utter delight (or sheer horror in hindsight), I experienced both simultaneously this morning.
For me, seeing people sitting alone in cafe’s is probably one of the saddest things. There’s nothing like sitting at a 2 person table and looking across only to see an empty chair pathetically looking back at you. I vowed to never be one of those people.
And naturally, I became one of those people this morning. I’ve reached a point in my life where I think I am socially strong enough to do solo cafe adventures, and decided to try this hypothesis out this morning. Alas, the results indicate I am not as I’m still deeply scarred. Potentially it’s because I went into, what can only be described as the most pretentious cafe in Melbourne.
You know the cafe is pretentious when there are about 13 different lattes. Like, I know Melbz has a strong coffee culture but 13 is somewhat pushing it. Also, I’m sure our Italian nonnos will be mortified to see that their beloved black coffee has been bleached unicorn blue, with the rarest Himalayan salt pinched at 972438346m above sea level and preserved at exactly 18.489 degrees. Oh and don’t forget just that splash of almond mylk which is highly different to almond milk (so don’t you DARE suggest they’re the same thing).
So after reading through the coffee menu, I settled for an ‘apple pie latte’ because it sounded warm and homely and outside was grey and drizzly. And because I am self-diagnosed semi lactose intolerant (even though the doctor suggests I am fine), I just double checked with the waitress what milk was in the latte, because the 1/10th pretentiousness within me wanted to request almond mYlk.
Me: “what milk is in this latte?”
Waitress: “oh no, there’s no milk in there!”
Sorry, how preposterous of me for even asking.
So I had finally decided what to order after reading through
a vegan’s bible the menu for too long. As I looked up to take in the surroundings, it dawned on me that:
- a) I was sitting alone on a 2-person table at a cafe with nothing but a huge window opposite me.
- b) On my left there was a couple on presumably their first date, given their awkward banter. Let’s call them Gerald and Alex.
- c) On my right was another couple, who can be Yolanda and Nigel.
I have never felt more victimised by society. It was like I was third wheeling the entire left side of the cafe. It was even more awkward than that time Kimmy K released a single.
Luckily my apple pie latte came out quickly so it gave me something to do other than gawk at how uncomfortable Gerald and Alex were, and how Yolanda and Nigel did nothing but hold hands across the table and stare into each other’s eyes. I kid you not they didn’t say a word, they just sat there.
Anywho, naturally I was curious as to what my apple pie latte would taste like. I took a sip. And another, really trying to find the nuances in flavour. Nope, half a cup down and there’s no words to describe it other than heated up apple juice. No shit there was no milk in it because this was just hot juice with a sprinkling of cinnamon on the top, attempting to pass itself off as an apple pie latte. This is even worse than Hugh Grant trying to be a lion at Halloween. Mufasa Grant, you and your New Balance dad sneakers ain’t fooling anyone.
To make matters even worse, mid-gulp of this hot juice I choke and have a violent coughing fit. My life flashed before my eyes, and my eyes teared up partly due to the excessive coughing, but also because:
I was about to die in a painfully try hard Melbourne cafe, drinking an apple pie latte that was really just microwaved apple juice, whilst sitting alone, and the last people to see me alive were Gerald, Alex, Yolanda and Nigel.
If that’s not tragic, I don’t know what is.
Luckily, I survived only to be dealt with another deck of spades a few minutes later – my food arrived. Not wanting something too heavy, I ordered something along the lines of smashed avo (typical Melbournian, I KNOW). Upon arrival, granted it looked pretty. It was a nice aesthetic with different colours and suitable for VSCOcam filter F2. But eating it was a whole other matter entirely.
There was a ginormous amount of some green vegetable plonked on of the toast, which was wildly impossible to cut with the knife, so I had to make do with hacking my way through the Amazon Rainforest by shoving it into my mouth. And I had picked the window seat so I could do my favourite past time, people watching, but to my dismay, it was more the people on the outside watching me as I uncomfortably tried to eat my way through all of Stephanie Alexander’s garden at once. At one point even Alex broke away from making painful small talk to take a sideways glance at me. I made eye contact with her mid-chew and we had more chemistry in that moment than her and Gerald had their entire date. #soz
If that wasn’t enough, I realised that I was also about to eat my first vegan ‘egg’. This is just highly problematic in so many ways. Don’t get me wrong, vegans are doing great things for the world and I very much respect them. But when it gets to the point of recreating things they’re not supposed to eat, but clearly have cravings for, it really crosses a line. Like egg yolk is egg yolk. It is not some strange concoction of semi-mashed pumpkin. You’re not fooling anyone.
And so this was my phenomelbourne – this is the most Melbourne I have ever become. You hear about its coffee culture, the brunches and the people – but after experiencing the trifecta today it really was something else. It hit me like an overwhelming stench and I was unsure whether I liked it, or whether I had smelt it so much I had become accustomed to the pong.
But if you’re looking for me in the next week, I’ll be at home, eating my normally poached eggs and normal coffees and hiding away from whatever the cruel, insidious outside world has become.