Monday, January 16, 2012

Dude. That's a Lot of School.

Well, darn. Looks like college night at the local bookstore. I get THAT kind of gossip during the day from my students. I know it LOOKS like I come here to write, but really I come to hear the stories, to get ideas for essays, characters, a juicy bit of something to spice up my words. But just my luck, a no school day and all the students have come to hang out at the coffee shop. Well.

This guy in front of me has a sketchpad. And some cool pencils. He’s intense. He’s so intense. I know how he feels. Something about being in the middle of a noisy crowd that helps drown out distractions and let’s the art just flow. But a page full of ears? Could he not find something more interesting to draw? Fruit, maybe? Nudes? All the possibilities and he chooses ears?

Oh, now. Well. A young lady has joined him. Maybe I’ll get some bit of something to put to page after all. “Did you see that one asshole? Dude.” Okay. Artist Guy speaks Surfer Guy. “Dude. Michigan people, man.” “Dude. That school? That’s, like, a lot of school. That’s why I’m not going to school.” “But, that? I could totally do that. Dig it.” He should probably go back to his ears. I don’t think there’s any impressing that’s going to happen any time soon if that’s the direction he thinks he’s headed with this. I may need to redirect my eavesdropping if I am to have any content worth printing here.

Okay, so the guy behind me is here ALL the time. I know this because I am here all the time, and he is here more than that. He always looks homeless, but I’m not sure he is, although I’ve seen him at the library, too. Not that that makes him homeless. I’m not sure why he comes here. I never see him reading or writing or looking at anything. Mostly he just walks around the cafĂ© area straightening books, putting magazines back on shelves, returning dishes. But he’s not a worker. I know this, too, because he doesn’t have a green apron on ever. He knows people. I always see him talking to different guys, sort of like one of those people who just knows everybody in town. He’s with a gentleman now, but I can’t quite catch the conversation and it seems to be all over the place. I’ve got “sociology,” “air filter,” “fire hazard,” and “hallucinations.” I know I’m a writer and have quite the imagination, but even I can’t go anywhere with this one.

Ah, Surfer Artist Dude just put his headphones in. You should know that he dances as well as he converses.

The elderly lady at the next table is bending toward me with a piercing look. Yike. One second, I’ll get right back to you.

“Could I ask you a rather personal question?” Seriously. That’s what she said. I never know how to respond when someone says that. I mean, you’re a stranger and you want to know something about me that I may not share even with my closest friend? But, hey, it’s me. I share everything with anybody. So she leans forward and asks me this, and I say, “Sure.” In my head, though, I say, “But I reserve the right to not answer based on what the question is and how personal I feel it to be.” “Could you tell me what perfume you’re wearing? You smell so good.” If I told you how many times people tell me I smell good, you would think me full of myself. Not that you don’t already, but for real. I have no idea what people think of the way I look, but I’m pretty sure they’re ok with the way I smell.

Barista girl is apparently impressed with the guy at the counter. And, unfortunately I can’t share his reaction. Would it be rude of me to switch tables real quick to get a better peek and listen? (I am only half kidding here.) You should know that said customer is sporting dark glasses, dark curly hair, dark pea coat, and a pair of very nondescript dark shoes. Barista girl says, “I know you’re smart because you’re reading The Economist. Those articles are SO super-long. And they’re so DRY. I mean, come on. Who READS those?” Again, I would love to see the face. But, no.

Not-Homeless,-Not-Coffee-Shop-Worker Guy is now sharing with his friend something about some “kid” who is going to the local college, working on his PhD in Statistics. The college crowd at the other tables, I have learned since I started this essay, are studying math. Maybe this is a nightmare and not the coffee shop after all. Could I not have come on psychology night or philosophy night or any other night, for Heaven’s sake, but stats and math night?! Not that stats isn’t math or that stats doesn’t have anything to do with psychology, but if this were an old Western movie and I had done some horrendous deed and you had to throw me in the hole for a good long time and deprive me of all social contact whatsoever and just toss down some chow once in a while in one of those old banged up tin plates and I had to eat it amid the roaches and rats, you could if you wanted to rub salt in the proverbial wound, you could give me just a tiny little light and a bit of paper and something with which to write and make me do stats all day long for added torture. THAT’S how much I hate stats.

Artist Guy just left. Not Homeless Guy is gone. The college crowd is thinning. Must be the end of the essay.

Wow. Thinking I need to do my writing during the day when all the mommies meet for their morning lattes. Now THAT’S some juicy gossip.


  1. Hahaha.....some nice dry torture "gossip" is all the night contains. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that if you go when all the mommies meet for their morning lattes, it wouldn't sound too interesting. Then again, women do speak more on average in one day than men do, so you never know what you'll hear.

  2. Ah, but, Charles. When the mommies meet, the secrets fly! You'd be surprised what's behind those diapers and dishrags. Some pretty juicy stuff!!