A Visit to the Topless Coffee Bar in Vassalboro ME
I'm Not Here For The Coffee
Saturday at 3 in the afternoon I walked into the "lobby" of the Topless Coffee Bar in Vassalboro Maine. I looked to my left and there stood a girl of about 22, tan, topless and smiling. I turned to my friend, still coming in the door, and giggled, "This is it." It was pretty exciting.
The Topless Coffee Bar opened it's doors about three weeks ago, attracting local and national media attention. A place like Vassalboro Maine being mentioned on CNN and featured in a popular YouTube video is pretty big potatoes and it's created about as much buzz as this area ever gets. Local people I've spoken to seem amused and pleased. Despite being a prudish puritanical group the whole scene is so silly and innocent (it's not a strip club or massage parlor, just a coffee shop, no alcohol even) that people are pretty light on the subject. The most negative thing I've heard about it is something along the lines of, "It's kind of weird, isn't it." Well, it is, and that said, I had to check it out first hand.
I asked a friend to go out with me, a girl about my age (late twenties) from the Portland area. She agreed to go without showing excitement or reservation, but once inside she seemed rather scandalized, which I hadn't expected. The place reminded me of a small pizza joint. The main room had tables and benches with a tiled floor. There was a small carpeted cove where the coffee pots sat along with a large drink cooler filled to bursting with gas station donuts and honey buns. There was a faux stone fireplace in the coffee cove, but it wasn't in use. And thank God, as it was about 85 degrees in there. There were big black speakers mounted in the sitting area blasting Rob Zombie, but the crowd was so giddy and convivial it sometimes drowned out the hammering beats of Living Dead Girl.
Once we sat down there was only one empty table of the fifteen. The place was packed. There was an older couple at one booth who'd we'd followed in. They were silent and smiling at one another like they were there to collect their lottery winnings. It was kind of heart warming to see them sharing the experience. The only other female customer was sitting amid a group of ecstatic 18 year old boys. I caught her eye at one point and she looked absolutely desperate. I wondered why she'd come to the place if it was so upsetting to her, much like I wondered about my own companion, who was clutching her cup of coffee and staring at the window two inches to her right, which was covered by corrugated white plastic, as if at the bars of a cell. The other tables were full of men, mostly in their late twenties to early thirties. They were all laughing and smiling, seemingly drugged by their good fortune. They joked with one another and bought each other donuts. "Tell you what Beautiful, bring us a round of Honey buns, on me!" That's going to cost you like 25 bucks, I thought.
On a stranger note, the one topless Waiter there turned out to be a friend of mine, a guy I knew fairly well and who I had no idea worked there until I walked in the door and saw him standing behind a girl with teardrop shaped breasts. He wore a tiny pair of shorts and sneakers and had an order pad strapped to his waist. All he lacked was a pair of roller skates. We laughed when we saw each other, embarrassed and happy at the same time.
"You like working here?"
"I Love it!" he said and laughed, letting his eyes rove the room. And I couldn't blame him. The place had the feel of a carnival, everyone happy, strangers laughing and talking with one another. The topless girls wandered the room, the color of cinnamon from the tops of their feet to their hairlines. They were much prettier then I had thought they'd be. Real American Beauties, no Greek goddesses here, the color of toast with blazing blond hair crimping down their backs, they wore tiny skirts and platform shoes, had tribal tattoos on their bellies and lower backs, and the prettiest of the group had tiny, tasteful gold nipple rings. The bouncer was a small rugged guy in a white button up shirt who sat talking with the costumers and watching the door, but the mood was so light I couldn't imagine there being any trouble.
I found the whole thing pretty fun. Knowing the male waiter made it seem more like a social call. After delivering our truly awful coffee and trying to sell us donuts stacked ten deep in the cooler he came and sat with us, right next to my friend who was now sweating baby oil and refused to make eye contact with me. I saw many of the girls sit at the tables they were serving to chat up the customers. I don't know if they are encouraged to do this to create camaraderie and increase their tip or if its more of, I don't want to be topless and the only one standing. I asked my friend the waiter about the work and he said it was great, he'd applied the day after they opened and "I took my shirt off and got the job." It was actually the perfect work for him, and I was really happy to see him so at peace. I asked him about the other guys working there and he said he was the only one. There had been an older guy but he'd been fired. I pressed him for details but he was mum on the subject, leading me to believe there had been some kind of incident.
It was hot in there, and a light odor of BO was certainly present, coming from the overdressed guys all amped up on boiling coffee and nudity, not from the wait staff. The coffee was plain atrocious, the kind of stuff you dump in the street when you have the misfortune of being handed a cup of it. Our bill for the two cups was seven bucks. I was heavy handed with the tip, as I would want people to be if I was prancing around naked. I bid adieu to my friend the waiter and headed out the door. On the smoking deck (a hold over from the days the place had been a bar) a young bounder smoked a Camel, "What did you ladies think?" he bellowed jovially. My overheated pal was racing for the car and flat out ignored him, but I turned and proclaimed "I like it." He nodded heartily. It's great, he agreed. I told him I thought the girls were very pretty and he nodded again, both of us apparently having had lower expectations. "They are really friendly too, I liked talking with them, you know." Of course you did, Buddy, they were nude. He waved goodbye like we were the best of friends.
As I pulled out, my stomach churning with coffee flavored chaos, I considered what a great place to meet guys it was, I'd seen more guys my age in there then I had all winter. I said this to my companion, who had fallen into a stony silence, and she threw me a pretty hard look. I guess It's not for everyone, but me, I had a great time.
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