So I’m sitting in Starbucks with a friend who I’ll call Eddie to respect his identity. He’s sippin on a latte while I chuck down a smoothie as we discuss life. English however is not Eddie 1st language and so the conversation is not as smooth as my smoothie……or as tasty!! There are many breaks and pauses and I do my best to use basic words. “So………you…like……errrrr…London?” he asks. “Yea its great, I love how there’s so much happening here, everything is so chaotic…hectic………errr…busy…” I say waving my hands about furiously to validate my claims of a busy city. “Everyone is running somewhere, its berserk!!” I study his face making sure ‘berserk’ hadn’t gone over his head……it didn’t. “So……errr……you…errr……work here?” I assume he was referring to Central London and not the Starbucks we were in. “No” I reply “I use to, Im hoping to find more work around here soon though. I love seeing how these big businesses operate….errr…work”. He Sips his latte and puts on that face that tells me he’s about to say something else and is carefully putting together the appropriate combination of words. “Errrrrr……” I take a gulp of my smoothie while he gets out what he wants to say. “….errrrrr…………you………errr” he continues. I realise now I'm just staring at him which is probably making it harder for him to concentrate. I take another gulp of my smoothie and read the label on the bottle, frequently looking up so he knows I'm still listening. “…….errrr………nevermind” he says defeated with a wry smile.
He gets up and signals that he’s going toilet (I cant quite remember how he signalled this, but it was communicated somehow……maybe he waved a roll of toilet paper at me or something). I take out my phone like everyone does when they are temporarily left alone in a restaurant or indeed a coffee place and send out some unnecessary texts. Soon Eddie returns. As he sits back down I notice he has a look of confidence on his face. “He must have gone ‘toilet’ to practice that sentence!” I think to myself. Sure enough he picks up where he left off. “Errrrrrrr………”. I take another gulp of my smoothie. “….errrr…”. I re-read the bottle label. “……you……” Then there is a long pause of silence. I look at him. He is drinking his latte. Wait…had I missed it!? Was I too occupied with the ingredients on my bottle label that I missed the vital part of the sentence!? Maybe that was it!! Maybe it was a question!! You?? Was he asking me if I needed the toilet!? I didn't signal it, did I? I'm pretty sure I didn’t…and I don't remember waving around a roll of toilet paper!! “……you……errr……” Oh thank God, he wasn’t finished. Good thing too as I was about to say “No, I don't need the toilet” which would have sounded quite strange. “…you know……when……” he continues. My ears are heightened at the sound of a conclusion developing in his voice, but there is another pause.
I gulp the last of my smoothie. I re-read the label. He sips his latte. I wait eagerly. Even people around us are now leaning over to hear what he has to say. Its like he is a judge in court about to give the verdict and everyone is on the edge of their seats. Like the answer to the worlds economic crisis is about to fly out of his mouth. As if he was about to confess experimenting with pigs and accidently starting this whole swine flu outbreak. “Come on Eddie” I think. “We’ve danced this dance for far too long now, stop teasing me and say it already”. As if he read my mind he puts down his cup…………there is silence………he looks around……there is more silence………then he picks up his cup again and nods as if to say “This is a good cuppa”. Hang on a sec…I think he is actually finished this time!! I study his face and it has no signs of concentration. Cor blimey!! I had actually missed it!! I couldn’t have, I was so attentive!! I play it over in my head…”you…know…when…” How could that possibly be the end of a sentence. That’s barely even a start let alone a middle or an end!! That’s just bad sentencing…in ANY language. He looks me in the eye as thou awaiting a reply. I wrack my brain for solutions. Maybe ‘When’ is the name of someone? Is he asking me if I know ‘When’? Coz I don't…i know a ‘Wendy’. Then I realise what was going on. He is obviously about to rob ‘Starbucks’ of all their coffee and is telling me to be ready to leg it!! You know when. BUT WHAT IF I DONT KNOW WHEN!! I DONT WANNA GET ARRESTED FOR YOUR CRIME!! I DONT EVEN DRINK COFFEE, WHY DO YOU THINK I’VE GOT A SMOOTHIE…I MEAN IT’S A PRETTY DAMN GOOD SMOOTHIE BUT THEY’RE NOT WORTH GOIN TO JAIL FOR!! But suddenly he says “You know when Starbucks close?”. “Oh…” I say, almost speechless but relieved My friend was not a coffee stealing criminal. “…erm I dunno but they are usually open til late”. Thank God that’s over. That must be the most complicated sentence to say in English…..EVER!! There is another moment of silence before I notice the look of deep concentration back on his face. “……Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…” he starts. I get up and get myself another smoothie.