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October 22, 2007

Overheard at Your Local Starbucks
Posted by Shadi Hamid

They’re sitting pretty close by, having a somewhat animated conversation. The first person is a regular. He asks the guy sitting next to him, “should I subscribe to the Weekly Standard?” Blank Stare. “They’re not too conservative, are they?" Blank stare, turning into look of incredulity.

The conversation then turns into more weighty matters, like Chekhov and Tolstoy. Person one, whose name is apparently Charlie, seems to be distressed about something. “Why is it that Chekhov’s short stories are so much better than his plays?”
    The second guy responds impatiently, and I can tell his eyes are wondering: “Do you read the plays or watch them?” This appears to be a rhetorical question (when was the last time you watched Chekhov? For the Republicans, aka people who don’t go to Starbucks: Chekhov is/was a Russian writer of great stature).
    “I read them.”
    “Plays aren’t made to be read; they’re meant to be watched.” This would seem obvious, but coming out of the mouth of this man, already oozing gravitas because of his above-the-fray blank stares, it sounded utterly profound. I had never actually heard someone say it; I had only thought it.   
    “Hmm, that may be the problem." Problem solved.     
    Person two sees his opening, and moves for the kill: “Would you want to read a TV script?” I ponder this punt for a moment, and then think to myself “why, no!”

The conversation then turns to more practical matters. Charlie appears to have bought a Honda Civic, but luckily for us (and the future of the universe as we know it), a hybrid Honda Civic. He marvels that he gets “49 miles per gallon.” Good for you, I thought. I watched his face carefully, and it occurred to me that he looked, and sounded, slightly like Al Gore probably did when he lost the 2000 election.


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" Al Gore probably did when he lost the 2000 election."

Er, no. Al Gore didn't lose the 2000 election, the Supreme Court Five stopped the count.

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