Oct 252010
Authors: Molly Ungerer

People-watching is a fine art. It’s perfect on nearly any occasion, and there are countless locations that are great for it.

For example, the airport is prime people-watching realty, however, you’ve got to work with what you have access to while not in the vicinity of such fine grounds.

As far as campus property is concerned the library, the plaza, various benches in the Lory Student Center and the food court are all adequate for the purpose of people-watching. Now, when venturing off campus, the Alley Cat coffee shop caught my eye for multiple reasons.

The Alley Cat is one place where every corner and niche of Fort Collins is represented. In Alley Cat there seems to be even sub-categories among categories of people. I tend to think of the Alley Cat as the San Francisco of Fort Collins. Nearly every single person you’ll come across there is on the opposite end of the spectrum when looking at the person one table down the line.

The employees are part of the laid back, indie-hipster crew. They look very comfortable and can pull off any ensemble.

Then there are the customers.

Such as the painful date couple: The girl who obsessively loves horses and is gabbing away about how much she enjoys dressing up her cat and how funny he is when he tries to walk with baby clothes on.

While she’s talking a mile a minute she doesn’t seem to notice that her date from the computer science department is completely zoned out, staring at the table while sliding his empty mug from hand to hand across the table top, not even pretending to listen anymore.

Two tables away are the scenester high-schoolers who are always part of the coffee scene. This crowd comes in displaying their jet-black hair and bleach-blonde streaks, leather gloves, exaggerated eye make-up (usually mimicking a clown or some kind of Cleopatra trend) and that “no one understands me” attitude.

Only moments later, the best part of the night crawls in through the side door. He’s very tall, very thin with a fine layer of hair on his face coming in, in patches. He’s sporting an oversized, green trench coat (but honestly, is there such a thing as a fitted trench coat?)

His jeans from the knee down are fastened in place solemnly by a one-inch thick patch of bandana all the way around the back of both knees. His cheeks are sunken in under his black, wool packer hat that is hosting a KISS pin. He’s a twitchy character who watches others by strictly shifting his eyes, sure to never turn his head.

The older gentleman in the corner has been here for hours and is perfectly content with doodling his fingers through the spilled coffee on the table at his lonely booth in the corner. He’s in his mid-60s with his weather-worn face in his oh-so-1990s jean jacket, rocking a scruffy beard that covers the entire southern hemisphere of his face with the exception of a bald spot on his chin.

He’s blankly staring down the line of tables at the student stressing over the ecology lab she forgot about until 10:45 p.m. the night before it’s due.

She’s hunched over her laptop usually advertising a CSU lanyard at least if not the full-on CSU hoodie and sweats. She’s wired on coffee, scrambling through packets of paper in her lap, through her backpack and on the table behind her computer screen.

Her wide eyes are most likely bloodshot and twitching from the ongoing fixation towards the computer screen. She’ll eventually finish this after being distracted several times from other students that invite themselves to sit and chat with her for extended periods of time.

From the straining natural sciences major to the stranger in the trench coat, this 24-hour coffee shop resembles the melting pot of Fort Collins. I highly recommend it if you want to engage in the fine art of people-watching while meeting some of Colorado’s most interesting characters.

Molly Ungerer is a sophomore journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:43 pm

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