I ask the barista which of today's blends is the darkest and she tells me that it's "Frank's Big City Blend." When I first sit down to read a collection of Kelly Magee short stories in a coffee shop with wood floors and paperbacks and perfect lighting that is so far away from the big city, a woman enters with three kids right next to where I'm spread out on a leather couch by the front window.
These kids are young--all of them over four but under nine, and all equally expressive. I wonder why a mother with kids who are obviously difficult to quell would seat them beside a studious-looking lass like myself, clearly trying to get reading done. When she gets up to order her coffee, I try, so hard, to get in a paragraph. A really long one with lots of syllables.
The youngest one, a boy in a gray knit cap and mittens, attempts to spell the word "Fox" and gives up before the "x." His mother encourages him. "What would Jesus do? He wouldn't give up, would he? He'd try his hardest."
Now I'm too involved in this family and their love of Jesus to concentrate on pages. So I move, and as soon as I stand up I hear the mother say, "Do you guys want to snag the couch?"
I imagine that every man in this coffee shop walks up to me and asks what I'm reading, and then hits on me. I smile politely, tell him I'm spoken for by a man in a town that's even farther removed from Frank's Big City, who works out harder than I'm trying to concentrate on this book. It looks like Chick Lit but it's not, I swear. I'm a smart girl. You don't know what you're missing.
I have a scratch on my right shin and I itch it, lifting the leg of my jeans just high enough so he can see my grey knee socks, and then I realize that I'm also revealing my boyish (albeit incredibly hip) tennis shoes. My toes wiggle nervously and because the tops of these shoes are nylon, I think he probably notices and falls in love with me.
I've heard this stupid Bon Jovi song three times in the past two days. I've got to befriend one of the baristas so they stop playing such awful music in here. So far though, this isn't my place. I just read here. I mean, sometimes I read here. Sometimes strange men hit on me and sometimes I get distracted by noisy children and two old ladies in matching red wool coats discussing politics in the corner where I usually hide away.
When I pull on my hat and throw my bag over my shoulder, I notice the empty coffee cup I've left on the table. It's not far to the counter, to the gray plastic bin with all the dirty dishes in it. So I pick up my cup with the half-sip lingering at the bottom and take it up there, depositing it in the bin and balancing it on top of a stack of saucers. I wait for a moment, listening across the room for the mother of three to notice and tell her children, "See? That's what Jesus would do."
Bobble Head Nite this Weekend! BC Times Coverage
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