I used to be an English teaching assistant at a middle school in La Roche Sur-Yon, France. During the lessons, the students were often allowed to ask me anything about my personal life as long as it was in English. They were often a shy bunch, so I always had search for questions. I did so by asking, “What else?”
They started to giggle. A boy raised his hand an asked if I loved a coffee, and I told him I adore it and cannot live without it. They all laughed. Another raised his hand.
“Do you like George Clooney?”
“Well of course. He's a great actor. One of my favorites," I responded causing even more laughter. I paused, and looked at the lead teacher. “Ok...so. What else?”
It was only after the class that the professor told me about the nEspresso advertising campaign where George Clooney finds himself in situations where he thinks people are attracted to his celebrity, only to discover they're treating him nice because he has a cup of nEspresso. After that...I was sold.
Today, I stand in front a the nEspresso boutique in Bordeaux, France. A poster of George Clooney greets me with his brilliant smile, and of course some coffee in his hand. A store dedicated to coffee is too good to be true, but one solely fashioned for nEspresso is a delightfully caffeinated heaven.
I enter to see machines of all models, colors, and sizes. The walls are decorated with multicolored coffee capsules. My nostrils have never been as wide, and my sense never as sharp, in an attempt to sacredly sniff every aromatic morsel coffee.
In the back of the boutique there is a circular shaped bar surrounded with patrons. A man stands in the middle dressed in all black; vest, dress shirt, tie, and slacks. He commands the coffee machines, cups, and capsules like a wizard. I get in line to see about buying an espresso, but as I get close a notice a sign;
The Carpe Diem Lounge is reserved for members who wish to taste different products with an intent to buy.
I have no intent to buy anything except a cup of Joe from the dapper gent. A whole machine? Not yet. By the time I arrived to speak with him I had thought of nothing brilliant to say.
“What can I get for you, Monsieur?”
“Is it possible to pay for an espresso?”
“No sir. The Carpe Diem is reserved for those who've come to purchase a machine from the store.”
“Oh, I see. Damn.”
“Well...What is it that you wanted anyway?”
“I just wanted a little espresso, you know? I love this store. I have never seen one, especially not back in my country, the United States of America," I say, without knowing if it's true or not.
“I understand...So...You'd like an espresso, Monsieur?”
'No problem. Take a seat,” he says as he points to a vacant place. It is almost like the lighting shined on that stool to say it was mine. I know. I pulled the tourist card, but it worked, and as I took the hallowed seat I couldn't feel more shameless.
He hands me the espresso served with a few nEspresso amenities. I mix the sugar and take a sip of the bold grainy wonder. It's VIP, free, and delightful. I look around to my fellow Carpe Diem Lounge mates and nod in approval. They smile and nod back, raising their coffee cups. I finish the espresso, and stand to my feet.
"Merci bien, Monsieur,” I say to the barista.
"You're welcome, sir. Have a great day."
I stroll gallantly through the shop pass the lounge and hordes of paying customers, and stop outside just in front of the store. I smell like coffee. I put on my glasses and look down the pedestrian filled unknown with the only feasible question possible.