I sat in the coffee shop, where there was hot drinks and AC, which is a good combination, and I was not stranded but still felt unable to leave. Woman in bright blue shirt to my left, door repairman dead ahead, 12 O’clock, with a Tiger Woods hat and a Mario mustache, Levi jeans, 32 for length and waist. There was a bit of confusion when he first came in, see the too-cheerful girl at the cash register had her inner universe thrown off by his let’s-get-down-to-business sort of attitude; she did not know why he was here.
“I am here to fix a broken door closer,” he had said.
“To fix a broken door?” she had replied with a frightful, forced smile. She was so confused, why could this man be here, why isn’t he just ordering a drink, yes, yes, let’s just get you something to drink sweetheart, something to cool you down and we’ll get all this sorted out… she was quite confused, and our pal Mario was getting impatient.
“NO, I am here to fix a broken door CLOSER,” he responded, obviously annoyed, not even attempting to mask his condescending tone.
Words were exchanged, clouds were cleared, and the two were amicable enough after all… and Mario just made a loud, clanking noise.
“Sorry,” he said in my general direction, without looking up. I smiled, but without showing my coffee and cigarette-stained teeth.
Elderly couple at 11 O’clock, just now leaving must be in their 80s, out for their afternoon treat, a highlight in their day, a break between Oprah and Dr. Phil. The gentleman with his silver-grey hair combed over… and the door repairman is asked, “You doin’ alright today?”
“Alright’s the word,” he says sagaciously, “now if it would just cool down out there…” as he wipes the sweat from his freckled forehead. He has relaxed, loosened up, kinda made a fool of myself over there with all the clanging around, he’s thinking to himself.
And the elderly gentleman is heading towards the door in his peacock yellow button down short sleeved shirt, one of his favorites, and his pleated pants and light brown leather lace up dress shoes. He and his bride of a thousand years do not talk to each other much, she just reads the paper, catching up on local happenings, likes to stay involved, she’s always been that way he thinks, but he does not think it in an annoyed OR sentimental way, just a thought in his head, nothing more, lots of those lately, and he sips his coffee with the lid off and the steam shooting out like from the pipes of a mini-factory, right there in the palm of his hand.
And I wonder how they met and if they still love each other and if they used to fight all the time or if they were ever married to other people, and if so, where those people are now. Did they die? Was it just a divorce? And where are the kids, do they come to visit, to they come to reciprocate the love and care they received?
And at 10 O’clock, just making my way around the place, my eyes meet two women, and the one facing me has this aura about her, why yes, that silver Mercedes convertible in the parking lot is mine, why do you ask?... and she seems to be thinking that she is doing the other old woman a favor by getting coffee with her, seems sharper and more with it, laughs often, young at heart, bright and bold, has probably bossed her husband around in the past. She has the brightest blue eyes and short, white hair. But the other women, the one with her back to me, well she’s probably the same age, late 60s to early 70s, but she seems so much more aged. Has she seen more, been through more? Did her husband fight in the Vietnam War, perhaps was murdered, or came back, but shell-shocked when he did, has flashbacks almost nightly, been going on nearly 20 years now? What has this other women experienced that Mercedes woman hasn’t, with her plush suburban castle. What could she explain to me or give me advice about, what could I learn from her or she from me?
And then the woman in the blue to my left, 9 O’clock, I’m just rockin’ around the clock and then my prying eyes invade her, ripping her apart, just cause why not? She seems awfully uneasy, seems like she had told herself,
“Linda. You just need to gather your worries and go sort them out over a cup of coffee. You need this, Linda. You do.”
But now she’s here, and not sure what to expect, been sitting on the edge of her seat, looking around nervously, poignantly, in the breaks between filling out some sort of paperwork – food stamps, social security, health care? – she looks up the way I would imagine a single mother might, or just like some person who’s thinking terrible hard about something… the way I did before I wrote that last sentence – and she seems better than she did when she got here and I am happy for her.
And now she’s leaving and I think that means that I can too, now that I’ve lived through her and in her and helped her along, to solve the spider web of doubts in her head.