I recently attended the London Coffee Festival in Shoreditch. LCF is essentially just an excuse for men with hipster beards (and/or moustaches) to crawl out of their hipster holes to meet girls who melt under the lingering guise of the hairy-aforementioned. It is here that they profess their love for each other without explicitly saying so via in-depth discussions and debates about a third party topic; namely, a descent cup of joe.
I jest. The festival is actually full of people who know a lot about coffee, bearded and beard-less, exhibiting the latest innovations and experimentations of coffee in every form imaginable - seriously, every form, I still have a sample of the lip balm made of coffee oils in my purse.
Nonetheless, I do fall into the latter type of demographic; that is to say that I am one of those girls who melts under a well groomed bearded guise. Hence when the coffee shop I worked for offered free entry to the industry-only festival days I made sure I would be there.
Since my brother ditched me for the flu, I ended up going alone. This was dangerous. I frequented the coffee-liqueur stand and did shots with the bar men. I pretended to run pop-up coffee shops to receive uber-special treatment from the roasteries. I took the details of companies with names I couldn't pronounce so I could 'definitely contact them when we reviewed our stock choices'. I fluttered more eyelashes at more bearded men than I can count. I ate more cake samples than my stomach could handle and drank some terrible cups of coffee in an attempt to make those stands without any customers feel a little better about themselves. Needless to say, after a few hours I was both high off coffee and sugar and buzzing a little bit from the shots.
And that was only the first floor.
They send you upstairs first, you see, so it's a grand entrée upstairs which then leads downstairs where the workshops, over-flow of stalls and, ultimately, exits are.
I'm sort of upset with myself that I went so big on the first floor. In my naïve LCF-virgin state by the time I got downstairs I was exhausted. I had hoped to do some brewing workshops but could not muster the energy so I simply walked around solemnly in silence until something caught my eye.
That something, ended up being someone.
A small inconspicuous, minimally decorated stand with a tall unshaven man in a hat caught my eye. The best thing about LCF, as I alluded to earlier, is the third party topic; you're never caught without an opener.
"Tell me about what you've got here." I said, trying to hide my jittering as the coffee pangs began to kick in.
He was unrehearsed, honest and himself. This was a cold-brew coffee to put on shelves in supermarkets. It tasted good and much better than the existing competition. I enquired how long they'd been running, where they were stocked and how they were doing. I expressed my desire to get into product development (an old aspiration but one I could express nonetheless in an effort to retain his interest) which did seem to engage his attention further.
We laughed. We talked about how he recently had to fire his friend. How he was never meant to end up in coffee. About our mutual interest in jazz. He was a trumpeter. Me, a singer. It all sounded profoundly too good to be true. So when he asked for my details to write in his list of contacts, I tried to keep my cool exterior.
As I wrote down my email & name and drew a little curly-haired self-portrait so he wouldn't forget who I was, he cheekily took the pen off me afterwards and wrote next to my name:
As I read the words that materialised with the strokes of his pen, my heart sank.
"You get a 'cool dude' next to your name, so I don't forget," he said.
Two words that do not interest me in being associated with.
I am definitely not cool. and certainly no dude.
The word 'dude' just reminds me of the unintelligible buffoons from the film 'Dude, Where's My Car?' I don't know anyone in their right mind who uses the word in casual everyday use, let alone for a woman of prospective interest. This guy either got high too often or perceived me exactly as a described; just a cool dude, nothing more.
He gave me his card but I accepted defeat. Smiling as best as I could, I said I would email and turned on my heels. With my ego deflated and my coffee come-down getting worse, I surrendered to the growing headache behind my eyes and left the festival.
A few days later, I emailed the talk dark stranger as a last ditch attempt to gauge whether a man who calls you dude can actually be interested.
Alas, as suspected, he never replied.
Not cool, dude.