Tag Archives: Coffee

The Daily Whatever: On Strangers in Coffee Shops.

You have an hour to kill, so what else are you going to do but go for a coffee somewhere, right? This is Dublin, and like any major city, there are about as many coffee shops to choose from as there are pubs. But you like Fixx because the staff there make better cappuccinos than Starbucks (which isn’t hard, in all fairness). To them it’s like an art form,

You order, pay for, then collect your cappuccino and sit down to read your book. For once you get a good seat, a comfortable one that you can flump into. You hang your coat on the chair opposite so no one will ask to sit with you. You’re going to be with people all night; all you want is an hour and some space to yourself. Besides, the book you’re reading – 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – requires concentration; a table to yourself is what you require.

Because your head is dug into a book all you see of the woman who sits on the table next to you is her legs. She’s wearing black tights and black calf-length boots. Your eyes move up and you notice that she’s wearing a grey suit. At that moment, though, you can’t see what she looks like because she’s facing away from you. Her hair is jet black and you suspect she might be foreign, Chinese or Japanese maybe (although she might be a touch too tall to be Oriental).

On her tray she has a small pot of tea, a brown scone, some butter and jam. You go back to your book – but it’s too late; your attention is diverted. Her hair is short but her fringe covers her eyes. You see, however, that she wears glasses. But she’s looking down. First at her phone, as she checks her messages, then at her scone, as she decides whether or not to eat it. She pours her tea but you’re frustrated that you can’t get a look at her face. She may or may not be beautiful.

She doesn’t touch her scone but instead stretches her legs. You spot that she has knobbly knees. But you still can’t see her face. You return to your book.

Then you give up because you’re fascinated by this woman, this stranger whose face you can’t see. You see a wedding ring on her finger and think, At least her husband knows what she looks like. She picks up her phone and either makes a call or checks for voice mail. She says nothing, in fact there is no reaction at all. She drinks more tea, but this time cuts the scone in two and spreads some butter on it. She takes a nibble and puts it back on the tray. Then she looks down at her lap, and it is then you wonder if she’s upset about something, this woman whose face you can’t see. This woman in a grey suit, wearing black tights to cover her knobbly knees, wearing a long fringe to cover her eyes. You’re still not sure of her nationality, but you suspect she isn’t happy about something because she turns away and stares out the window.

Then she lowers her head again, concentrating on her lap. You think she has closed her eyes. You are utterly entranced by this stranger, and you find this weird because normally you don’t pay too much attention to other people (a strange trait for someone who writes, no?). She nibbles at her scone once more, then returns to her reverie. You are convinced she’s sad.

Then she gathers her coat and bag and heads off to the toilet. You wait for her to come out so you can get a good l00k at her face. But when she does she remains as enigmatic as when she came in. You think she may be beautiful. Sad but beautiful.

You return to your book. You now have thirty minutes to kill.

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100 Words, 100 Days: Day 92. On Mothers.

Unless you were born in a test tube, you have a mother. By and large they’re in a class of their. Not everyone has a great relationship with their mother, so I consider myself fortunate and indeed blessed that my mother an I get on well.

So when a 70-year-old woman tells her 46-year-old son that he should spend less time surfing the net and drinking copious amounts of coffee, and more time looking after his health and getting proper sleep, you know he should really listen. After all, if your mother can’t have your best interests at heart, who can?

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 85. On Caffeine.

You know you’re a caffeine junkie when:

a) You’ve gone to the bother of making the nicest cup of coffee you can, given your circumstances, and you don’t even remember drinking it.

b) Being jittery is your default setting.

c) You can tell your Java from your Colombian.

d) You drain a pot of coffee quicker than a toilet can flush.

e) Your concern for your kidneys is at odds with your serenity.

f) Your response to a customer query is WHAT NOW? CAN’T YOU SEE I’M STRESSED OUT?

g) Going cold turkey fills you with a sense of dread.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 26. On Insomnia.

I remember a time when it was a badge of honour to stay up all night without sleeping. I wrote all night many a time, thinking that the wee small hours of the morning would bring out the best in me. Coffee kept me company as I plowed through my manuscripts.

Now I want my sleep to return. I want to come home from work on a Saturday night, switch off and go asleep. But I can’t, and I know why.

Coffee is my constant companion from morning ’til night. I should know better but don’t know when to stop.

 

I, Aardvark: Aardvarkian Origins

I, AARDVARK.

I came downstairs the following morning and found Allie grinding coffee beans. The sound system was on. Coldplay were singing Violet Hill and the aardvark was doing his best Chris Martin impersonation.

“Your taste in music is…”

“What?” I asked, sensing an urgent need for caffeine. It had become clear to me that Allie was neither a prank nor a figment of my imagination. He was here, in my living room, organising breakfast.

“Depressing.” Allie broke open some eggs into a bowl and began whisking. “We can use some of the cheese for the omelettes. I hope you like them runny.”

“I don’t normally eat breakfast,” I said. “Mornings are hit-and-run for me. I hit the shower, then I run out the door.”

Allie’s snout drooped. “I know. I had to go out and buy some provisions. Just because you skip the most important meal of the day, it doesn’t mean I have to.”

I opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Coke. Allie rolled his eyes. “That’s healthy,” he said.

“You sound like my mother,” I replied.

“I’ll take that as a compliment. Did you sleep all right?”

“Good enough. Once I got over the whole talking aardvark thing, I pretty much conked out.” I thought of something just then. “Did you say you went out?”

“Yes,” Allie replied. He was now stirring the omelette mix in a pan. To my surprise, I found I was getting hungry. “You hadn’t any eggs and you were low in milk. I hope you don’t mind. The receipt is on the table.”

“But how…?”

“How what?”

“If I’m the only one who can hear you, how did the people at the shop know what to give you?”

Allie shook his head. “Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo. Ever hear of a shopping list?” He scooped out the omelette, divided it up into two plates, and handed one to me. He took his own plate and sat himself down in an armchair beside my CD and DVD shelves. He sucked his breakfast slowly, appearing to savour every morsel of egg and cheese. “I wrote out what you needed and and picked them up at the Spar.” He giggled to himself. “I caused a bit of a stir, let me tell you.”

Ballybough Community Centre

“I’d say you did. We don’t get many aardvarks in Ballybough.”

“I think it was more your Stetson.”

“You wore my Stetson?”

“Yup. Black goes well with blue.” Did I mention that Allie was blue? I am now. “How was your breakfast?”

I swallowed the last of them. “It was good,” I answered. “I have to get ready for work soon. Then I have to figure out what to do with you.”

“What’s to be done with me?” He gave me a concerned look. “I hate to say this, Jimbo, but you’re stuck with me for the time being.”

“But there has to be some kind of law that says I can’t.”

“I checked on the Internet.”

“And?”

“There isn’t. Unless there’s an antiquated Domestic Aardvark Act that I’ve missed somewhere along the line, you and I are a team.”

I put down my plate. “Well if that’s the case, you better come along with me.”

“To your job?”

“Yes.”

Allie’s front paws and snout rose in exultation. “Yippee! I have a job. What do you want me to do?”

I looked at the coffee pot which had just finished brewing. “You can start by getting me some coffee.”

Allie saluted an aardvark salute, which involved both paws and snout meeting at the centre of his forehead. “Aye, aye boss.”

I sighed — again. “No need to call me boss, Allie.”

“Okay, boss,” he grinned. “Can I wear your Stetson again?”

(C) James McShane