It’s a beautiful summer morning and it’s Friday. Having just read ‘An Actually Useful Guide to Madison, Wisconsin’ I set on an ambitious journey of trying every single place it recommends for food, drinks and entertainment.
The article is written by Elissa Goldberg for BonApettit.com, but the low down of what to do in Madtown is given by Trevor Gruehn – the director of Bradbury’s Coffee.
Bradbury’s Coffee is claimed as one of the best three in town, so why not start my exploration there. It is located in a quaint corner space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and it offers a pleasant view of The Children Museum and the busy crossing of Hamilton and Dayton streets. The cafe itself has an industrial feel with its bare concrete walls and high ceiling, with dark wooden tables and asymmetric tables layout. So far so good!
The barista I order my cappuccino from seems a tad melancholic (may be only in comparison to my super high energy level this morning), so I pretend not to hear what he says – he has to repeat his words to me and this tiny effort brings him in the moment, makes him conscious. This trick always works!
I sit on the one end of a long to-share table, a family with two toddlers in the other end. On my other side, two young professionals are conversing. As I sit down and exhale I realize this won’t be a lovely, quiet coffee time. ‘…there isn’t enough chocolate on it. I can’t taste the chocolate from too much banana’ – the blond 4 y.o. complains. “…this crepe is too thick” – he goes on whining. ‘…I’ve been working so hard on this article and I’m so glad it’s finally been published…My students are keeping me so busy all summer long…’ – the young man on my right switches between bragging and bitching with the same annoying high pitch voice, and loud, so unnecessarily loud.
And then I notice the guy in front of me, he is reading a book. Actually, it’s his book that catches my eye (ok, the guy is handsome too!) – ‘No exit’ by Jean-Paul Sartre. I’m in love with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre’s love story.
The irony of the situation however is that ‘No exit’ contains the famous Sartre’s quote ‘Hell is other people’. Is it really? And when we find ourselves in hell, do we want to have an exit, or no exit is just fine? Is human hell good for us, will it build character?
My cappuccino arrives, Trevor himself brings it to the table – he appears friendly and very professional. I take a sip – Bradbury’s Coffee is truly as good as they say, as the rest is now just white noise…and No Exit is needed for now.