Coffee Shop Talk

Several breaths into the brew, my body sat upright. The chemical reactions from the bean had sparked some eagerness. Around me were the lost, the preoccupied, the keyboard-clackers, the chatterboxes and the silent coffee sippers buried in their books. A dash of milk and two sugars later, she walked through the door. Disheveled hair, soft eyes, a rather odd but striking face, she set herself apart and held my gaze for a few seconds, maybe longer. Dressed in white and effervescent as ever you could tell she traveled first class. Her little Yorkie was no different. Only the finest dog chow has passed through its velvety coat. Her stride was perfect. Me on the other hand, I stumble through cracks in the sidewalk.

On rare occasions I can be the clumsy puppy dog that wags its friendly tail and walks all over your feet. (I’m also cheaper to feed). The aroma of the place had briefly drawn the three of us together. She paid for her cup and sat at the adjacent table. Her iPhone was out but she didn’t call anyone. No one called her either. We were alone amongst many, coffee in hand, pondering life. She turned for a brief moment and caught me unawares. Warm brown eyes met intense black eyes. Playful met playful. A smirk wasn’t what I had hoped for but that’s what I got. The zombie Yorkie had sensed a strange chemistry between its mistress and clumsy puppy dog. I almost heard a growl but the toy-sized thing chose a more silent path. It stayed watchful, Zen like.

The game of Tetris on my Blackberry had half begun but I was too busy playing out a moment in the real world. It is said that wise Native-American tribal Chiefs can gaze into the face of a person and know the depths and entirety of their life. Maybe for a moment, if I looked long enough I would see it. That hidden inner world of experience she carefully housed within herself. The gallery of her different selves she juggled with ease. That landscape within, where the ground that was once hard was growing soft again. The side, she was careful to share only with her pint-sized pooch. A few seconds later, she hugged the little canine, almost sensing the intrusion.  Eye contact isn’t my thing and I’m happy to agree with the Chinese in this respect. But, with that dog deciphering my body language and the caffeine kicking in, I had to play American. It was time to break the ice. I had to look deeper, keep the connection. My senses were cooperating and I was up for the challenge. The zombie was fixated and I was steady. I focused on the pooch, took a deep breath and  ….“Hey, sorry dude, I couldn’t find parking?” “Have you been waiting long?” “Oh Man!…it’s freezing outside…What did you get?… the usual…wait I’ll go grab mine”. “Do you want a refill?”… said my buddy interrupting.

Instant distraction… Yorkie looks away… she drifts to her iPhone and superficial chatter had just cost me the beauty of a random conversation with an intriguing stranger. My access to mystery was blocked and I was robbed of the vulnerability of a chance encounter with a face that didn’t originate from wires, a network and a 13-inch screen.

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