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Clem-In-Time: The Smashed Week-Old Cutie at the Bottom of My Backpack Just Saved Me From Spending $5 on a Slice of Coffee Cake


I leave the house and I think to myself, “Did I get everything?” Underwear? Check. Laptop? Backpack heavy, so check. Emotional baggage? Check. Notebook so that I seem respectful in my humanities classes? Check. Keys? *jingle* check. iPhone? I don’t know. Airpods? I don’t know. Uh oh. Oh wait, Steve Inskeep just made a political joke that made me feel sophisticated for understanding in my ear. I must have both somewhere on my person. Check, Wallet? Check. All of the cognitive labor I must undergo before leaving my home for good is complete. And now you may wonder, “Where to?” Well, a cafe, of course. I have limitless amounts of reading to do and what better way to complete it than to spend half an hour walking to the cafe, spend $4 on a cortado, and eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. I can’t think of any other way!

I arrive at the coffee shop. I won’t disclose the location out of privacy concerns–concerns that my privacy will be breached during a trip to said coffee shop. The study session goes splendidly. I read half of The New Geography of Jobs, all while having no idea where I will work this summer. I check some things off my to do list with no regard for whether I did them. I listen to the two PhD students living in Graduate Hospital discuss their sex lives. I vigorously dry my hands after spilling my cortado, as not to have to sacrifice my seat by taking my fully packed backpack to the bathroom with me out of my dubiously rational fear of my Macbook, Baggu case, and emotional baggage being stolen, I have no fears about the last one. 

I do all of this. I keep busy. All of the sudden, I look up and a glass museum case of coffee cake stares right back at me. My stomach growls. It’s more of a meow. I’m told I’m delicate, but to the lay audience, I needed to start by saying “growl.” How aggressive. The coffee cake beckons to me. “Please Justine. I know you disavow coffee cake for illegitimate reasons of ‘I have no coffee in me, I’m all sugar, and you’d rather have your black coffee and occasional cortado burn a hole in your stomach,’ but please Justine, I’m only $3. I’m rose glazed. Wouldn’t you like to know what a rose tastes like?” All I can hear is the coffee cake and also all of the other sounds in the cafe, such as the coffee grinder. It’s just too much. I whip my hand into my open backpack to keep myself from picking my wallet up off of the faux stone table I sit at. 

My hand begins to move. It’s always been a fan of “Oldies but Goldies” and as if I had packed it two weeks ago, I stumble upon the porous skin of a clementine. Could it be? It could! A good old clementine. I pull it out and run to grab a napkin so as not to stain the ivory free edge of my nail as I puncture the flesh of said clementine. 

I bite and I rejoice. Rose shuts the fuck up and so does my stomach. Always pack perishables in your backpack. You never know when you might have the urge to buy a slice of rose coffee cake at an unspecified coffee shop.