It's 7:30, and the morning crowd of Nick's favorite coffee shop is quiet. Over the past few weeks, he has become wearily depressed by the routine start to the day. The line for a warm coffee swells in restive fashion while baristas vacantly smile, greet, and brew, as is their wont. It's overcast days like today that remind him of the changing seasons of Denver, a previously undervalued place that, all of a sudden, is desperately missed.
Many fellow customers are vaguely familiar to him, yet at the same time, familiarly vague. To them, Nick is no more significant than the coffee they are about to purchase; has to be a sugar-coated creation in order to have a tolerable flavor. Stripped of all character and individualism, originality is a characteristic ignorantly considered as something one should not have anything to do with in this city.
Everyone's faces, fatigued and forbidding, stare blankly into the tiny screens of their cell phones, iPods, compacts, or waiting wallets. Bodies creep forward as each customer places their order. Their faces remain mannequin behind their oversized sunglasses; Prada, Gucci, Dior, the usual suspects. See, it's customary to keep your glasses on indoors, especially on cloudy days. In this city, the City of Lights, people are so blinded by the hopes and dreams of their bright futures, the glasses never come off, it's more of a safety precaution than anything. In this town, it's too risky to allow someone to see into your eyes, God forbid you remove the gates to your soul, your personality.
Amy, a girl Nick sees here at Saxby's often, is sitting next to him working on her laptop today. She is a beautiful girl, though oblivious to the very notion of it. She is wearing, due to the seemingly Siberian temperature of 62 degrees, a new white parka, complete with a furry interior and hood, a pair of cranberry colored Juicy Couture pants that appear to be custom fit to her athletic frame, and some cute fur and leather moccasin boots to complete the ensemble. Still wearing her glasses, she's been on the internet browsing the same page for nearly thirty minutes now, TMZ.com, the celebrity gossip insider. She has the newest issues of Star and People on her table underneath her phone, which is safely padded in a nice Louis Vuitton case.
Amy dances at Cheetah's, one of the premier gentlemen's clubs in Las Vegas. As most start their day, hers comes to an exhaustive end. Amy's shift ends around 5, after which she heads to the gym for about an hour of cardio work, then finishes her day with a cup of tea, her magazines at Saxby's.
Nick often wonders how much of Amy truly is Amy. Why does she think how she thinks and why does she do what she does? He's never seen Amy in the same clothes more than once. When they talk, he often gets the impression that she never thinks beyond the beauty salon and her next night out, a trend very popular here in Vegas. She is a walking replica of the celebrity life she reads about daily. The irony behind it is, these are the same celebrities she and her friends, without hesitance, devours with criticism and condemnation.
She's young but has been dealing with grown men for years, treated as meat, she is tormented and molested by the fear of becoming an individual in this city of obscenity. She, and thousands of other people, are infected by the same disease of vanity, self-absorption, and narcissism. It's highly contagious and devastatingly toxic.
In an anguished attempt to escape the misery of what's around, Nick pulls out his new book, Absurdistan, by Gary Shteyngart, puts on his headphones, and starts his own mp3 player, the iPhone, which he now detests but gravely relies on to get through the day. As the music quietly flows through his eardrums, Nick falls back in the lounge chair, closes his eyes to the sad world around him and absorbs what Lupe Fiasco has to say:
now hear this
and I'm earless
that means I'm peerless
that means I'm eyeless
which means I'm tearless
Which means my iris resides where my ears is
which means I'm blinded
but I'mma find it, I can feel it's nearness
But I'mma veer so I don't come near...