I'm back here again. It's too cold to go to Towl Park and I'm jonesin' for the chai. And the company. I must be honest. I am always interested in the clientele here. I was not expecting a crowd. It is the week before spring break, so lots of finals. Instead, it is packed. So packed that I have to share a table with three others. Not ideal. But, as always, I am here to eavesdrop on conversations. I'm not disappointed.
There is a guy with a crew cut sitting at the head of this big table. It is as big as a dining room table and in the center of the room. All the other tables are small two seater tables or you can sit at the coffee bar. There are two women in front of me in line. One orders a very complicated mocha latte involving a dash of cocoa and a dash of vanilla, plus a shot of almond milk. All of this is to be extra hot. Or as she says, "At least 180 degrees. No less." The barista is surprisingly cool with such a snobby order. Doesn't even blink an eye. There is a guy sitting cross legged in a chair by the register. He is pretending to read Slaughterhouse 5, but really watching the barista. When the snobby lady imperiously orders her drink, he rolls his eyes.
After what seems like twenty minutes, the picky drinker takes her drink to sit down and, of course, there are no free small tables. She moves to the big table in the center and sits at the opposite end of the guy with a crew cut. He glares at her as if this table is reserved for him. She ignores him. Sits sipping her drink. No books. No cell phone. Just sipping. But every time the door opens to the outside, she looks up.
The asian woman in front of me orders something very easy and when it is done, she, too, searches for an empty table. None. So, she sits at the large table. The picky woman ignores her. The crew cut guy glares at her. I'm waiting for my chai, hoping that someone will get up and leave but they don't. So, I join the three at the big table. The picky woman ignores me. The asian woman smiles and the crew cut guy gives me a withering look. I return it. He looks away immediately. I'm old. I've learned that the only way to handle a bully is to go toe to toe. He gave me a withering look, so I lobbed one right back to him. C'mon, dude. I DARE YA! He backs down. They always do.
I listen to conversations around me and write them down verbatim:
Two guys are sitting on stools at the coffee bar. One guy is jittery. He spins on his stool every few minutes. He is telling his friend how he stole his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend's cowboy boots.
"The guy thinks he's fuckin' Blake Shelton. I still have my key to Melanie's apartment so I go in to get my Rosenstock album and my Pac man tee shirt that she used to wear to bed every night but it is MINE. I knew she'd be at work. Anyway, I see his fuckin' cowboy boots right next to OUR OLD BED. Right on MY old side. So, I stole them. Let him come lookin' for them, if he wants 'em back. See if I give a shit."
A couple hovers close to each other at a table. Instead of sitting across from the guy, the girl sits in his lap. He is smiling, dazed. He says something about promising his brother that they would watch some game on TV tonight.
The girl pouts prettily. It's a well used, well rehearsed pout. This pout has a rep for working like a charm. I can see this. I know this girl. All women know this girl. She's the one who you can't trust to be around your boyfriend. Ever. She's the one who makes even the smartest guy in the room wilt like a dandelion on the 4th of July.
"I was hopin' you could bring me some take out from Mother India and help me study tonight," she says. Her pout is actually similar to Cindy Brady's and would never work for any other girl but one like her. This pout takes very full, very baby girl lips to pull off. She does this with finesse. He's gone, I think. I don't bother to even listen to his answer.
The asian woman next to me is working on her computer and calling a co-worker on her cell phone.
"Everything looks good. The graphics are popping all over! We really nailed this, Chloe! Call and make an appointment to show Collin. We want to beat the beastie boys on this one." She hangs up and viciously begins punching numbers on a graph sheet. I truly hope that they beat those beastie boys.
The guy who was sitting cross legged, watching the barista, is now trying to talk to her. She smiles nicely at him but it is not an interested smile. It is a doing-my-job smile. I feel badly for him. He waited out the crowd and is trying so hard. His hands move around like birds, moving up and down as he describes something to her. He is giving his full act and she's only casually paying attention. She notes that one album is finished and puts on another, glancing only occasionally at him as he carries on.
I sigh for him. Some days, some people are just not meant to work out for us. I glance over at the picky woman. After all that nit picking, she has barely took more than a sip or two of her coffee. She sits still, staring off into space.
He's not going to show up, I think. He probably said that he MIGHT and you really hoped that this meant that he WOULD. Maybe she and the cross legged guy should get together. Won't happen, though. We always pine for what we can not have. And then the right one shows up and we wonder why we pined so hard for the wrong one. We realize that they didn't suit us at all. Life's funny that way.