Conversation overheard today in a coffee shop I will call Stubbs, where I go when the walls start to close in on me at home:
Man at the next table, 25–30, skinny 1950s build, sharp lean face that reminds me of a young Joel Grey, staring at the far wall. His pants are Fifties skinny, too, but that’s not what catches my eye: it’s his hat. It has a very short crown and a very narrow brim, and reminds me of nothing so much as the pork pie hats you see on vaudeville comics in old movies, except that this hat appears to be made of black patent leather and the man underneath is not Red Skelton.
[Aside: I looked it up. The pork pie hat apparently is a new Bold Fashion Statement. This is not something we’re used to at this Stubbs. The regulars are mostly med students, who dress like med students, and salesmen/independent contractors who dress like grown-ups with mortgages. You expect Bold Fashion Statements on the Fashionable East Side or in the Trendy Third Ward, but not here. This Stubbs is more cozy than cutting edge. It even has a fireplace.]
I open my laptop. A minute or so later, I hear a taptaptaptaptap. Hat Guy’s leather-booted foot is expressing itself on the tile, and what it’s expressing is more than caffeine jitters.
Minutes pass. I try to get into the scene I’m working on. Then:
“I am at Stubbs. [pause] I am at Stubbs. [longer pause] I am at Stubbs. [pause] I am at Stubbs. [much, much longer pause] I am at Stubbs.”
Snap! goes his cell phone. At least he was talking to someone real and not just voices in his head.
A few minutes later, in walks a 20-something woman in a very red leather jacket, high sheepskin boots that I suspect are not knockoffs, and turquoise velveteen jeans as skinny as Hat Guy’s pants. She piles her shopping bags on his table without a word and snaps open her phone. She has a brief conversation that I completely miss because I am lusting after the jacket and jeans. She snaps her phone shut and turns to Hat Guy.
“All right, let’s go. [brief pause] All right, let’s go.” [punctuation and spelling mine; I’m sure she spells it alright.]
“All right, let’s go.”
“You just put your stuff down,” he points out.
“All right, let’s go,” she says, not missing a beat. “All right, let’s go.”
And so they gather up her bags and walk out the door.
I don’t get much done the rest of the afternoon. I’m having too much fun speculating about what else they might have to say to each other. And how many times.
© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go