It was a strange looking place – more like a house than a coffee shop. Could that be why they call them “coffee houses?” For a minute I wasn’t sure whether to go inside of not. Finally, I figured, “What have I got to lose?” Besides, it was cold outside.
It isn’t the sort of place I normally go to. I was waiting on my daughter. On one side a group of young people poured over books with coffee and papers spread all over the table, obviously students from a nearby university. “What am I getting into here?” I wondered.
In the back was a counter where two people debated over what to order. I looked at the menu scribbled on a blackboard, concoctions of pineapple and caramel that sound more like ice-cream sundaes than coffee. I picked the one with the least amount of whipped cream and waited my turn.
The couple finally took their selection and wandered toward the back of the house. I peered down the hall after them. The server ignored my presence busying herself with washing cups or some other menial chore. Finally, she acknowledged me standing there just as I was about at the point of leaving.
I ordered my coffee unable to take my eyes off her chin. What is that? A pierced lower lip with a stud? I tried not to let my own tongue wander to the inside of my lip as I wondered what it feels like to have metal piercing your lower lip.
After much mixing and blending, all done in slow motion, the coffee was finally ready. I took the frothy blend and again peered down the mysterious hall before deciding on the side room close to the front door. I squeezed into a corner table by a TV set that was being ignored, hoping that I would be treated the same.
One couple was so busy with each other that they scarcely knew anyone else existed at all. Another table of people with weird hair were talking animatedly about politics, or some other earth shaking concern, as if their opinions really made a difference to anyone but them. They all looked very young.
I sipped my coffee and it really wasn’t too bad – didn’t taste a bit like coffee – but not bad. I checked my watch and stared at the documentary on the TV. Not my taste. Finally, I retrieved a used copy of the local alternative paper from another table and flipped through it.
What a dump this place is, peeling paint, rickety tables, a fireplace unused for 40 years, college kids, and a few tough types that appear to have wandered over from a nearby AA meeting house. Definitely not the sort of place usually frequented by middle-aged women. I’m on someone else’s turf, I surmised.
I looked at my watch again, sipped my empty coffee cup, and watched the worthless documentary. Finally, it was time and I could escape. I left my new and unusual company. No one said goodbye.
Do they feel as alien in my world as I do in theirs, I wondered?
“Hi Mom, isn’t the coffee house a neat place? Did you like the coffee?”
“Sure, honey, the coffee was out of this world.”