Blue State Coffee is a cozy little shop that succeeds because it provides two key staples for the typical Brown student: coffee and progressive political ideals. Brown has two on campus, one inside the bookstore and a “real one” that stands alone. I’m still a little baffled by the apparent need for both within 0.1 miles of each other, but at the same time, can’t say I’m mad about it. With a great atmosphere and delicious food, the Blue States of Providence attract all kinds of people. That said, a few characters are almost guaranteed:
This person somehow manages to take up two and a half seats’ worth of table space, despite the fact that they’re sitting alone. Their highlighted papers and overpriced textbooks spread far beyond the necessary radius, because let’s be real, you can only read so many things at once. Sprawlers came here to study, and study they will, even at the expense of any extra customers looking to sit down. But come on, you scream silently to yourself. Isn’t that what libraries are for?
Who knows how long this person’s been here? Their table is scattered with multiple cups, crumpled napkins, and a half-eaten salad. They give off the vibe that they’ve been here for a while and they’ve seen it all—it’s 3:00 p.m. now and they clearly ate lunch here. But is it possible that they haven’t moved all day and they had breakfast here, too? You shudder at the thought, but then acknowledge that as someone who spent upwards of four straight hours in the Ratty yesterday, you can’t really judge.
The Social Butterfly
This person knows everyone. Their face lights up every time the door opens (while you mentally prepare yourself to share this space with even more people). When groups walk through, they know at least one member, and often spare a few minutes to have an actual conversation. How do they do it? You stare at them in wonder, lamenting your own sad social life. Watching the Social Butterfly’s interactions sparks a deep interior monologue regarding your friendships. Are they real? Or merely imaginary? You have great friends, you remind yourself, just not that many. But that’s okay! Right??? Well, at least you’re getting work done.
This person enters alone, usually with a small bag or briefcase, and is clearly trying (sometimes failing) to look professional. Upon arrival, they sit down and fiddle on their phone for a minute in an effort to kill the time they just created by arriving obscenely early. Next, they struggle to decide if they should go ahead and order—is that too aggressive? But won’t it be awkward if they don’t? They ultimately stand up, pause for an uncomfortable, too-long moment while standing, and then finally commit to getting a drink. Once that unnecessarily stressful and overly thought-out process is done, it’s time for the actual interview. You can’t help but feel for them when the other person finally shows up.
It’s clearly a first or second date; they seem into each other but a little awkward and not quite natural. They’re laughing a bit too much, you think to yourself as you spy on them out of the corner of your eye. Wow, that really wasn’t that funny. Hm, now she’s touching his arm. Is this not a first date? Have they been dating for a year and they’re both just that awkward? No, no way, you tell yourself. Nonetheless, doubt builds as you continue to silently judge them. You’ll never know.
The Lost Cause
This person, like The Sprawler, has artfully splayed out books, highlighters, and a laptop to construct a compelling pretense that they’re being productive. But upon second glance, they’re definitely not. Whether they’re actually perusing “Brown Bears Admirers” in hopes of stumbling across a creepy description of themselves, watching Tasty food videos that they’re never going to replicate, or chatting with the Social Butterfly, they clearly aren’t going to get any more studying done while they’re here. So can they just leave already and give you their seat?
Your Dream Significant Other
Whether it’s an intellectual-looking, well-groomed guy who’s deeply engrossed in Bad Feminist or a cutie sipping coffee and listening to music (probably your favorite band, if you could only check their Spotify), they don’t even notice you. But boy, do you notice them. You spend the rest of your time at Blue State sneaking glances and looking away like a furtive, hopeful sixth grader hoping to get asked to the seventh grade dance. You find yourself wondering what their name is, and you vow to come back at the same time next week in order to start a conversation or at least witness their presence once more. They must go to Brown, so it’s only a matter of time before your paths cross.
You never see them again.