You already know how this will end

Posted in Travel at 13:29 by RjZ

I’ve just downed a delicious espresso from a coffee shop in Boulder. The barista claimed she was professionally trained in an Italian-style coffee house. Not sure what that means, or even if that’s what she said, because she was so nice to look at, but it was an excellent espresso. Music is playing, there is free wireless and attractive, smiling people all around.

Coffee house cappuccino
“Jenny’s” Cappucino. (I had espresso)

I’ve just come back from bouldering all by myself. There was no one else there, and no one with me. At one point, I slipped and landed a bit hard on my heel. If I had slipped wrong, without a crash pad, I probably could have hurt myself pretty badly. Instead, I’m here, writing about relaxing in a coffee shop and how beautiful it was on Flagstaff Mountain, finally completing a bouldering problem I’d tried many times unsuccessfully in the past. (Tree Slab, both directions, for those who know the area.)

The fact is, sitting here right now, relaxing and typing about almost hurting myself, is the way that all my stories up until now end. Nothing exciting is ever going to happen in these posts because, in the end, I am sitting in front of my computer, blogging about it.

The time I was knocked out cold in Iceland from wind blowing a door into the side of my head ended with me writing about it (someday) in this blog. Before the Berlin Wall fell, when I was briefly interrogated by the East German police, ended without much drama and me typing on a laptop. Falling, feet flying overhead, while rappelling in South Africa? Still nothing. I righted myself and here I am, enjoying a sunny day in Boulder. (I’ve got video of me doing that one; it’s hilarious.)

I tell a lot of stories. Fortunately for me, they all end the same. No matter how hard I try to inject some drama into them, nothing ever really happens, because by the time I write about it, I am back home, safe and with enough leisure time to write in a blog. I hate to spoil this, but you always know the end of my travel posts before you’ve finished reading them: everything comes out all right. They’re anticlimactic.

When you read about me getting ripped off in Morocco, or seeing the blown-out remnants of the cafe in which I’d had dinner two nights running in Cairo, or hear about the volcano that blew its top five days after I visited it? You can relax. Nothing happened. My story really won’t get any more exciting than that.

Someday, if I am not so lucky, maybe one of my stories will have a truly dramatic ending. Something really will happen. It’s just that I won’t be the one to write about it. Hopefully, someone else will. In the meantime, it’s a shame that everything I write about ends up the same, but I hate to break it to you: you know how this one is going to end, too.


  1. Amy said,

    March 25, 2006 at 16:50

    What coffee shop??

  2. Penelope said,

    March 27, 2006 at 13:41

    Keep me posted on where you’re at, R.J. When you finally do have a story with a dramatic ending, I’ll be honored to write it for you. I’ll be crazy with grief, mind you, but I’ll be honored to write that story. Please try to make that happen a long, long time from now. For example, take someone with you the next time you go bouldering, goofball!

    Sigh. I must keep reminding myself that you cute, fuzzy, lovable guys don’t live forever. For now, I’m glad you’re here. And I still enjoy the stories with the anticlimactic endings.

  3. Mike said,

    March 27, 2006 at 15:31

    First off I’d like to echo Amy’s request – what coffee shop was this! You can’t just throw out “delicious Italian-trained barista who makes nice to look at espresso” without citing your source! That’s just mean. Especially since while you’re out ruining your ankles bouldering and hanging out drinking coffee with the pretty people, I’ve spent the last three days drinking watery Starbucks coffee while confined to a hotel ballroom.

    So a few years ago I was doing a solo night hike in Park City, UT. I was about 45 minutes into the mountains, when I see these glowing golden eyes in the distance, just up and to the right of the trail. I stop and stare, when all of a sudden the eyes “jump” down to trail level and slowly begin to approach me. At this point I took all of point two seconds to rationally analyze the situation, and came to the conclusion that I was about to become a Mountain Lion appetizer. So during the entire 10 seconds that took me to get off the mountain, all I could think about was this vicious beast was stalking me, just waiting to pounce.

    Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I can be found recounting my adventure to a few friends over beers at a bar in Grand Rapids, MI. Now when I want I can spin a decent story, and I was giving this one the gold treatment – really laying it on during the build up phase. Finish the story, and after a brief moment of silence my friend Gilbert says so what happened, did you die? No. Well did you at least get mauled? No again. Your story sucks. Damn it, he’s right! Still, it seemed exciting to me at the time! For now I’ll happily settle for stories that seem impressive only in my mind – at least when the only other option is no stories at all. Because one day when we’re sitting in the retirement home trying to flirt with the nurses it’s gonna be the one with the best stories who wins out. (I mean after the one with the most money of course). Speaking of which, did I ever tell you about the time I was almost eaten by a bear while camping in Asheville, NC…

  4. RjZ said,

    March 27, 2006 at 15:44

    Oh, Oh! I’ve got an almost eaten story I forgot to allude to in my initial posting. Had I thought about it, I’d have realized that it is the real seed for my posting, because it was all terribly exciting while it happened. I remember my heart pounding from the fight or flight (well, there was really no fight and loads of flight) response. I’ll have to write about it here, but the problem has always been, try to tell the story without having people wonder what the point is.
    “Hmm.” they’ll say “but you didn’t really get attacked after all? It just ran away?”
    “Well, yeah, but..” you’ll stammer “I mean, think what could have happened? Wow!”
    “Um, yeah, wow. Cool story, dude. Should we find another bar? This one’s boring.”

  5. Penelope said,

    March 27, 2006 at 17:13

    I think I have a solution: Get some really annoying friends—maybe some that are okay most of the time, but annoying when they’re drunk, or feeling overly macho, or whatever they tend to do when you’re out climbing or hiking or camping. Take an annoying friend to a really exciting spot (full of mountain lions and bears and really difficult climbs with rocky crags that tend to spit out cams and saw through ropes), and watch him fall 200 feet or get eaten. Then you can say, “Well, I didn’t get smashed into a bloody pile of Jello, but Jimbo did! Boy was he messy! Well, of course he’s not here to tell about it, but I saw it, myself. I still have some of Jimbo’s blood spattered on my boot, see?”

    “Wow! Cool story, dude!” your admirers will say.

    Hmm. Now I think of an even better plan: You don’t actually have to kill Jimbo. Just splatter your shoe with food coloring, and tell the story about an imaginary Jimbo. Have a few friends who are in on the gag say, “Ah, I remember Jimbo. He was a good guy—annoying when he was drunk, but a good guy. Poor Jimbo,” to add realism.

    After all, what fun is a good story if you don’t get to tell it?

  6. Amy said,

    March 29, 2006 at 6:28

    The only coffee shop in town (Boulder) that makes “nice to look at espresso,” and also has attractive baristas… that I know of anyway… is mentioned in my blog… Joe’s Espresso. And I’m lucky enough to live a stone’s throw away… so I get my daily dose of decaf!

    I know, I know… WHY BOTHER? haha

  7. Hedda said,

    March 29, 2006 at 11:49

    Sounds like The Laughing Goat or Allison’s to me. In fact, we should follow RJ’s new idea of blogging from coffee shops around Boulder and commenting on the baristas/os, coffee and service. What else is working for yourself for?

  8. Traveling Hypothesis » But did it eat you? said,

    December 5, 2006 at 18:27

    [...] Sometimes a story is so much better in person than in the retelling. Like the story where you once saw a bear and your friend asks “did it eat you?” No one seems as impressed as your racing heart insisted they ought to be when you describe the white knuckle details. So don’t get too excited, because this is one of those stories. [...]

  9. Traveling Hypothesis » No excuses, but low expectations said,

    January 19, 2007 at 13:44

    [...] Let’s just hope this isn’t the last entry that someone else writes for me! [...]

  10. Traveling Hypothesis » How to acclimatize said,

    July 15, 2009 at 17:08

    [...] like most of my posts, nothing exciting actually happens in the [...]

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