Excerpts from the coffeehouse #6

A troop walks into the coffee house. Mom’s haggard, kids dangling from hips and hands amidst diaper bags and scarves. Right away, you know she rounded everyone into the car by saying, “how about we stop for hot chocolate on our way?” and then no one forgot about the suggestion as hoped, so now they’re here waiting in line. And by waiting, I don’t mean waiting at all. There are four little heads bobbing around, eyes peering from behind articles of her winter garb, hands “organizing” the pile of chocolates for sale, arms reaching up to the counter to show her what kind of scone they “need, mama!” 

She can’t be older than I. Our eyes meet as one of her bundled units wanders in my direction. I’m leisurely sipping an almond milk latte while tapping away at my laptop. It’s ridiculous how comfy I am, and I decide to scatter my pile of notebooks beside me. There, now we’re both frazzled. 

Her little boy (I’d say 5, give or take 2 years – I can never tell) has spotted the bookshelf next to my table, and he’s pulling books out, one by one and stacking them on the floor, naturally. His mom is now ordering with her back practically to the barista so her baby can’t get to the biscotti. 

“I like what you’re doing with the bookshelf.” I say. 

I’ve surprised him and he freezes. So I continue. 

“There are a lot of books to choose from and it helps to get a good look at all of them.” 

He looks at me and continues slowly pulling book by book out off the shelf and onto his pile not the floor. 

“I’m um, I’m …um” he starts, realizing with excitement that he has my undivided attention and thus totally loses his train of thought. “I’m…my, um, um, I’m…UM” he’s kind of gasping and looks at me. We both recognize that one of us will probably need to pick up the communication slack here, so I jump in. 

“Are you choosing a book to read?” 

“Yeah!” Now we’re off to the races. He tells me in one breathless surge about the book his mom reads to him at night but sometimes he reads some of the words too! And he loves polar bears because they stay warm when it’s cold (hugs himself and jumps up and down) and it’s Christmas soon and he gets HOT CHOCOLATE WITH WHIPPED CREAM today because his mom said so (I was right!) then he whispers something about getting in trouble yesterday because he gave the dog a… he trails off, realizing the joyful dialogue has taken a somber turn. 

“Wow, you have so much good stuff going on!” I say, impressed. “So…what happened with your dog?”

He shrinks a little and scrunches his face. “He threw up. On the carpet. In my mom’s room. And she was really mad. The dog’s not supposed to throw up. He ate meatloaf. Bad dog.”

“Oh, I see.” I like this kid a lot. “How come he decided to eat meatloaf?”

He sighs at the bad choices of his dog. 

“Well, just because. And also, because he likes it,” he explains. “And because I shared mine. Mom likes it when I share because sometimes we have too much and someone else needs some of it.” 

He beams at the good thing he did, then runs back to claim his hot chocolate, even though it’s too hot and he and his mom agree to hold the cup together. 

Excerpts from the coffeehouse #5

Coffee shop. In line. Toddler looks up at me. I look down at her, and feel giant so I squat to her height. She grins and touches the tattoo on my wrist with one small fingertip. Then she slowly lifts her tank top and points that same tiny finger at a fading heart “tattoo” on her protruding belly, beaming. Absolutely beaming.

Excerpts from the coffeehouse #4

“HELLO.”

From my seat at the coffeehouse, I look around for the source of this remarkably loud greeting. A teeny blonde forehead rises slowly from the leather chair to my left. Then two large blue eyes. Stops there. Stares.

“Well, good morning,” I say, and lean back patiently.

Still just two eyes, but they squint slightly (from a presumed smile).

A muffled response resonates up the leather chair:

“I’m going to ballet and I’m gonna take my toy.”

“That’s a great plan,” I nod.

She then lifts her head up, looks at me squarely and yells, “TODAY IS SO SO GOOD!”

Excerpts from the coffeehouse #3

At my local coffee shop. Pick up my latte, a feather artfully depicted in the foam. 

“Wow. How do you do that?” I ask. I need to know. 

(long pause as my barista contemplates her craftsmanship)

“You have to major in philosophy in college.” Laughing, we look at my mug. “That right there is my $60,000 secret.” 

Excerpts from the coffeehouse #2

I sit down beside two younger college students and quickly realize that I am on their first date! She is mid-sentence most of the time, giggling a lot and revealing personal things like her obsession with sparkling apple cider, and photography. He wants to see her photos, and also likes her “pretty hair thingy” (headband). She beams. He grins (he has braces).

There are some awkward silences, broken by sudden professions that are too genuine to be uncomfortable: “I’ve never been able to make friends easily…my glasses make me look dorky…reading the most influential before 30 list makes me feel super lame…” He reassures her that she has plenty of time to do amazing things. He’s right. She offers him a bite of her cookie. He accepts. Their hands touch briefly (yes, I’m staring).

Their coffee cups are empty, but no one is rushing. It’s so good, guys. 

Excerpts from the coffeehouse #1

A conservative looking older gentleman sits across from a 20-something gal. He reviews papers, removes his reading glasses and speaks to her, glancing back at the papers every so often. I’m guessing a job interview.

Her wavy brown hair weaves over the collar of a down vest, and fingers adorned with silver rings press into one another in her corduroyed lap. She is nodding and smiling, eyes trained on him, interested, engaged…nervous. DEFINITELY a job interview.

He stops talking, and she swallows, raises her eyebrows and then responds, gesticulating with rather muscular hands. She must be a mountain climber. He sits back and listens, his expression inscrutable, which always sucks. You want an encouraging nod here or there!

I feel a little queasy for her. If she had looked over at me, I’d have given her an enthusiastic thumbs up (luckily for all of us, she doesn’t). I recognize this friendly, hard-working gal as the cashier for the local co-op grocery. I wonder what job she’s interviewing for.

After some time, I head toward them to put my cup in the dirty bin. I am right next to them now. His voice is quiet and warm.

“Well…” he sighs. “I will tell you something, and I don’t say this lightly.” She waits. I wait. “You are a remarkable, intelligent young woman. We would be a better team for having you on board, and I look forward to working with you. The job is most definitely yours.”

She sits back, shaking slightly and gasping, and when I look at her, she’s a blur through the tears in my eyes.

Good things happening in the world, folks.