Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Coffeeshop Confessional.

This post is long overdue, so let me quickly give thanks for the patience of my fellow bloggers:
Laura and Jen Coyote! Please check out their Confessionals.

Laura's: That Grrl: The Coffee Shop Confessional
Jen's: Coffeeshop Confessional

This last confessional found me, once again, at Barnes and Noble. I stared at the board and contemplated the silliness of Starbuck's words for size selection. I wasn't in the mood for anything Venti, and while a Grande was nothing close to grand, I decided that whatever my appetite landed upon, I would opt for the medium. But what to order? It was a conundrum I wasn't shocked to find myself in. Normally I would order a hot chai and that would be the end of it, but I have learned that a good chai is quite rare at a Starbucks. So what to get?
I allowed my mind to drift as the party ahead of me ordered their drinks and paid for their books. It was an interesting family to say the least. The child looked boyish, but if my life depended upon a description I would have had to say it was a girl. My brow furrowed as I paid close attention to the sound of the voice and the mannerisms. The more I thought of it, the more I was sure of my opinion. I felt glad of my quiet and dark presence. While it can be troubling at times, I have yet to be mistaken for someone of the other gender, and for that I can be happy.
I knew those thoughts were disturbing, to say the least, so I purged them from my mind. I looked up at the board in vain again. Nothing seemed appealing.
The family left and a gap appeared in the line before me. A woman I had mentally grouped with the them stood motionless, her eyes on me. She looked at me quietly and something in her expression gave the distinct impression that she expected that I would step up to the counter ahead of her, and she looked quite resigned to the fate. I faltered and in the blink of a moment it struck me that she must be used to being overlooked. I smiled ruefully and motioned for her to take her rightful place at the head of the line. Her shock was evident as she bowed her head, a pale pink flushing upon her cheeks.
I stared at the board from behind her. Nothing. I looked around, the tables were teaming with 'customers', and I use the word lightly. Some were sitting, nary a drink between them, talking boisterously and waving various periodicals in animated discussions. Others sat at their laptop computers, working on whatever project they were currently pressed with. So many full tables without drinks on them or in the patrons hands. I sighed.
Just as the woman turned and moved aside I saw a sign on the counter, 'Caffeine Alternatives,' it read. For no particular reason, I scanned the titles of the drinks listed, hoping to find the object of my mind's unknown desire. One in particular caught my attention.
"What is a... Cream Steamer, exactly?" I asked. Satisfied with the answer I asked for the Grande. My drink was done in but a few moments, the girl behind the counter smiled at me and I turned to leave, mentally remarking how very colorful the tattoo of a sun was on the exposed portion of her right breast. The woman who had ordered before me stared at my cup, her gaze was as emotionless now as it had been before. Quiet resignation seemed to emanate from her, 'He may as well have ordered first anyway', I was sure she thought as I walked past.
The tables still full, I walked back to the children's area where my wife sat on the floor looking at books for cake decorating. Her beauty struck me and I smiled as I sat down next to her. She was my best friend and closest companion. I watched my kids playing with the toy trains for a moment before setting to work on my Confessional. Once it was complete and we were ready to leave, I snuck back into the Starbucks area of the store and placed my napkin on the table with the sugars and straws where the lady had stood when I walked by, drink in hand.


Jim Murdoch said...

This seems quite a popular topic, describing the people in line and around you in a café setting. The crime writer John Baker has been posting a number over the past few weeks which I've particularly enjoyed. You might like some of them too. I especially loved the magical realist flavour to 'Tear Trickle'.

They're good examples of how to tackle this style. I'm not sure what he intends to do with them because they're so different from what his fan base would expect but it's nice to see another side to his work. Here are the links to save you time:

A Waste of Time

Deus Absconditus


The Waitress Calls Me Luvie

Waiting for Galatea

Tears Trickle (my favourite)


Laura Brown said...

I liked your scene on a napkin. Gave me that funny feeling you get, that sinking feeling, when someone is suddenly just not there.

I did a second Coffeeshop Confessional. I enjoy sitting there and just letting thoughts cloud my brain cells.