While the Lisping Barista was writing her account of aborted sex in a cave, another marvelous wonder occurred just outside the door of the Epiphany Cafe. A second one, unconnected, would soon follow. Some, with seats by the window, witnessed the first. They scarcely believed what they saw. They tried to tell the rest of us about it, but we scarcely believed them.
“Someone picked up the Waving Man!” they said.
You remember the Waving Man, dear reader. He was the guy who stood just outside the door of the Epiphany Cafe, day and night, waving at cars. He never said a word to anyone, even when they asked him a direct question. He never came in. Little Theresa used to try to buy him coffee, but he never would take it.
At first we thought he’d been abducted. He was too friendly, some said. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
“No, no, it wasn’t like that,” they said. “He knew them. They got out of the car and went up to give him a hug. They started talking. Then he got in the car and went away.”
You mean the other people started talking, we said. The Waving Man never talks. He just waves.
“No, no, he talked! I saw him talking a mile a minute.”
Did he continue to wave at other cars while he was talking to the people in that one? We’ve never seen him miss a car.
“No, no, they were talking for a good five minutes before they left, then I could see him still talking when they drove away.”
Get out, we said.
“No, no, it’s true. We saw it with our own eyes. The Waving Man talks. He talks! And it looks like, all this time, he was waiting for someone.”
We agreed it was an astounding development, if true. The Waving Man. Who would’ve known?
As marvelous as that wonder was, the second was equally extraordinary.
A real, live Nigerian Prince walked in through the door.
We could tell he was a Nigerian Prince by the way he was dressed. He was dressed like they do in Nigeria. He had one of those hats they wear with no brims, one of those tunics they wear, with things embroidered. He had an accent like they have in Africa. He introduced himself as Prince Somethingorother. He didn’t pronounce it Somethingorother. He pronounced it they way they pronounce it in Nigeria, a way we can’t pronounce, proving he had to be genuine.
The Nigeria Prince Somethingorother ordered a cup of coffee; appropriately an African Arabica. He was a friendly chap and took his coffee from table to table to introduce himself. Many of us were skeptical that he was real, until we heard what he had to say. Once he spoke up, then we had no doubt he was authentic.
He asked everyone for money to return to Nigeria.
He had been in exile for years, forced to flee because of political trouble in his country. Things have changed there, though. Very much improved. It is promising. He can now return to his home and claim his title and property. He is very wealthy there, but he has no money in this country to pay his airfare. If you could only be willing to help a little bit, then he could return to his country. He will write down your name and address and send you back the money, with plenty of interest. He can afford to be generous because he is very, very rich.
So, you see, he had to be the real deal.
Almost everyone gave a little bit, if only because we admired his hustle. We liked the way he had it all down, right to the smallest detail. He was the complete Nigerian prince. He told us everything we expected to hear. You’ve got your ordinary, everyday hustles; but this prince was the king of hustlers.
You know the drug dealer hustle. Chai Latte had it pretty well. There’s the barista hustle. The Lisping Barista, with her piercings played it good. There’s the cowboy hustle, personified by the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat. The saintly hustle of Little Theresa, the geeky guy hustle of the Geeky Guy, and the scholarly hustle of Rabbi ! are all well known and accepted. The Therapist Emeritus has her therapist hustle. Therapy is nothing but a hustle, anyway. The Dog Fearing iPhone Pecker has a hustle, too. She hustles out the door when the dogs come along. The Crazy Dog Lady has the Crazy Cat Lady hustle, only she does it with dogs. The dogs have their hustle, too, even if they don’t know it. All they have to do is act like dogs and they get their food dishes refilled. Hustles abound. They’re cheap, they’re easy. They make life simpler than it has a right to be.
The beauty of a hustle is that, if you play the role you already know how to act and people already know what to do with you, then, you’re understandable, rational, and predictable. There have already been paths made to take you where you want to go. There are already people there to meet you. They’ll say that you’re good at whatever it is you do because you look like someone who ought to be good at it. If you look and act the part, they’ll overlook your actual performance.
We thought the Waving Man had been doing the waving man hustle. We thought we knew him: an addled man, friendly to all. Little did we know he was actually waiting for someone and someone actually wanted to see him.
By the way, there’s also the lady hustle and the slutty girl hustle. That’s what the Lisping Barista was trying to avoid. Both of them. Like trying to keep your wheels out of the ruts in a muddy, dirt road.