Cafe Intermezzo

All the world’s a stage. . . Especially if you’ve got a window seat on Telegraph Avenue.

I was thinking about one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  It was one of those scenes that unfolded exactly like a scene from a movie, as if that Great Scriptwriter in the Sky had purposely orchestrated the whole thing expressly for my afternoon viewing pleasure.

I was sitting at the window seat up front of the Café Intermezzo, nursing a cold bottle of Dos Eques and enjoying the people-watching view as the pedestrians walked up and down Telegraph Avenue.  It was like watching a movie screen, staring out of that big picture window.

When this big, shiny stretch limousine pulled over to the side of the street and parked right in front of the Café Intermezzo.  Right in front of me.  So I had a perfect view.

There was this guy sitting in the backseat of the limo, alongside what looked like a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice.  And he had a drink in his hand.  The guy looked like sort of a caricature of the Rich Hipster.  He had the Rayban shades, and the shirt unbuttoned to his belly to show off chest hairs and the tanning-salon tan.  I mean, right out of Central Casting.  He was apparently celebrating some sort of personal triumph.  And he had rented this limo to take a victory lap around Berkeley.

And he apparently seemed especially eager to share the news of his good fortune with the rest of Berkeley.  The sun-roof was open, and he stood up on the backseat and stuck his head out the sun-roof.  And began loudly berating and haranguing the passerbys as they walked by him.  I couldn’t actually hear what he was saying through the thick pane-glass window.  But from the expression on the faces of the passerbys it was apparently along the lines of:


He was really enjoying himself.

Soon, a crowd of people had gathered around the limo.  And there was much spirited banter going on back and forth.  The guy in the limo seemed to be greatly relishing his relative position in the world, standing high atop his royal carriage and spewing invectives as he looked down on the lowlifes below him.  Sort of:  “LOOK AT ME, MOM!!  I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD!!”  But  things were starting to get ugly as the situation escalated.  Insults were being exchanged.  Challenges were being offered.  Threats of physical violence were being presented. Disparaging comments regarding one’s manhood were being forcibly suggested.  And so forth.  As he continued to swig his victory champagne.

But just before things got truly out of hand, a cop who happened to be passing by stopped by to see what the disturbance was.  He tapped on the back window of the limo in an effort to chat with the man.  But now the guy had closed up the sunroof and locked the backdoor and he was sitting stiffly in the back seat, staring straight ahead, making a big effort to ignore the cop, as if to convey the viewpoint that:  “Hey, I’m just sitting here minding my business.  Why are you bothering me needlessly, you fucking cop?”

The cop continued to tap on the window.  Which only succeeded in enraging the man.  He suddenly lunged his face in the direction of the cop, and began screaming through the window, no doubt words to the effect of:  “WHY DON’T YOU GO DEAL WITH REAL CRIMINALS INSTEAD OF HARRASSING ME, YOU FUCKING PIG!!”

Now I don’t know exactly what the penal codes are regarding drinking champagne from the backseat of a parked limo while sticking your head out of the sunroof and endangering the public safety by acting like a complete and total asshole.  But he had now crossed the line over to:  “Resisting a Police Officer.”  And things rarely end well once things have reached that juncture.  Soon, three or four other cops had shown up as back-up, and they had the limo surrounded.  I’m not sure what happened next, probably the limo driver popped open the lock to the back door.  But soon the man was on the ground being rather violently hog-tied and handcuffed by the cops and thrown, rather unceremoniously,  into the backseat of the police car.

Now, all the passebys who moments earlier had been targeted for his abuse, were circling around the police car, laughing and joking and pointing at him merrily, no doubt the jokes being at his expense.  The guy is now in a frothing rage.  He’s red-faced and screaming at the top of his lungs and his head keeps shaking up and down.  I couldn’t hear what he was saying — thankfully, because I’m sure it was a mouthful.  And I was already laughing so hard, I had to turn my head away to catch my breath.  I’m not exactly sure what it was that was precisely so humorous about this poor guy’s expressions of impotent rage, sitting there in the backseat of the cop car, screaming his fool head off.  Maybe there’s just something inherently sadistic about humor.

But it was such a startling transition.  This man’s sudden fall from grace.  In a matter of moments he had gone from sitting in the backseat of a limo, to sitting in the backseat of a police car.  And it was almost a literal, visual enactment of that old saw:  “He went from the penthouse to the outhouse.”



One thought on “Cafe Intermezzo

  1. “the Rayban shades, and the shirt unbuttoned to his belly to show off chest hairs, and the gaudy jewelry, and the tanning-salon tan.”

    Rich Hipster??? Of 1977, maybe. Perhaps he just sold the IPO of his time-machine startup to some VCs.

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