Tag Archives: coffee

Morning Coffee

Remember that week we ate only hot dogs and mac and cheese? Shirley says.

Mom has walked into the room to see if anyone needs another helping of anything and swats at my sister like a fly. She is smiling the way she does when my aunt informs her that she’s using the dinner fork with her salad, laughing politely at a joke no one made.

Let’s talk about things we’re grateful for instead, my mother says. She leaves again, presumably for more sweet tea or another plate of food materialized from what was a pile of ingredients just this morning when I joined her in the kitchen for some coffee.

He’s forty-two, huh, she said after she poured me a cup and laid out all four flavors of creamer she bought for the holiday. I pretended to read the labels on Spicy Gingerbread hoping she wouldn’t notice that I was drinking my coffee black. I know you’ve always been mature for your age, but sweetie.

She said the last word as though it was a reason all its own for me to immediately stop dating Russell, the man lying in my childhood room upstairs. He’d woken before I had and encouraged me to go down and talk to my mother who had made no effort hiding her discomfort with me dating a man whose age is a fresh memory to her.

What can I say, mom? He’s a wonderful man, and for the first time, it’s actually working. I’m sorry it makes you uncomfortable, but you’re going to have to trust me.

She’d been taught – though never told – to understand a certain thing about unmarried men of a certain age. She had two failed marriages and a rocky relationship with the rest of her family that had taught her to assume those things about people, but I can’t help but think she wished he was at least a widower.

She leaned on the counter toward me, covering both of my forearms with her own. Okay, she said, making me want to cry for no reason at all. I trust you.

And before I could reply, soften my tone the way I’d always been meaning to, she gathered up the four bottles of coffee creamer and moved toward the fridge.

You drink your coffee black now, huh, she said.

The Friend

She is walking to the café to meet her friend. Her friend is there already because she walked from where was getting her haircut. Her friend sent her a text message that said, “OMW” for “on my way” and then “Here!” two minutes later. Her friend is probably reading a book because that is what she does, or fiddling with her bangs and wondering if they are greasy because that is also what she does.

She has taken the wrong turn to get to the cafe and backtracks. She sends a text message relaying her delay and bumps into an elderly woman while she punches in the message. She is pretty sure, but not completely sure, that the old woman glares at her, probably thinking something about her generation and its disregard for others and arrogance. She hears this in her grandma’s voice even though this old lady is a stranger.

She apologizes several times to the old woman: The first two are sincere apologies while the third is defensive, a bit angry. Why must the woman hold a grudge?

She is thus flustered as she approaches the café, which she has finally found. Her friend is sitting at one of the café’s impossibly small tables, she sees through the window. Her friend is reading a book just as she suspected her friend would be doing. It is a small book with a bright orange cover. She thinks it is probably a book of short stories — her friend is always reading short stories, which she thinks is a waste of time — nothing meaningful can be communicated in just a few pages. The authors are just lazy, she believes. But these are things she would never say to her friend because her friend would take it personally. (Her friend is always taking things personally.) She stands at the window a while, watching her friend, who is still reading, leaning forward as if having trouble seeing the book.

Her friend has been waiting a while but she begins to think her friend really doesn’t mind. She begins to fear her friend would rather sit here alone with a book, leaning forward that way. She tries to remember the last time her friend leaned toward her that way while they had a conversation but can’t.

A large woman bumps into her before entering the café. She thinks the woman is breathing hard. She watches the woman walk up to the counter, in her friend’s periphery. Her friend, still reading, pauses and looks up at the very large woman. But her friend does not just look up the way a person might look at anyone passing by. Her friend looks up with expectation, as if to say something. In recognition. But immediately after, it is clear to her that her friend does not know the enormous woman. It occurs to her that her friend has mistaken this morbidly obese woman for her.

Her face flushes when she realizes this, and she wants immediately to go in and confront her friend about it. Her friend — who is always talking about fresh foods and how people who eat cows are more responsible for the state of the earth’s climate than anyone else — sees  her as overweight and unhealthy. She always — since college when they met — felt like her friend looked down on her, and now she feels it is clear where they stand. Her desire to confront her friend has dissipated and she pulls her jacket closer to her body and walks back home without making a wrong turn.

rational behavior…

“I’m tired”, she says in her usual manner.

I’m tired too, so rather than asking her what might be inflicting this malaise I merely stir my coffee and search the table for another cream.  This quest isn’t necessary; the coffee is already a nice tan color yet it seems a much better use of my time than listening to her.  This will cause problems however, so I decide to be a slightly better boyfriend.

“Why are you tired?”

There is ever so slight of a pause as her left eyebrow raises.

“I was wondering how long you were going to take to ask me.  Really Connor, I question how much you care sometimes.” She begins to get that look in her eye.

It’s not really a stare, or a gaze, her eyes don’t glaze over and there is no real noticeable difference to anyone who hasn’t been in this kind of relationship. She keeps it a secret to the general public.  My recommendation, don’t date her…or anyone if you’re smart.  It’s better just to pick someone out of the crowd and ask them to marry you.  While this might seem ludicrous to the normal social customs, let me explain my reasons for this approach:

1.     It seems romantic, so at least your new bride or groom (if things pan out) will think you’re sweet and slightly crazed, but anyone who wants to get married is usually member of both those catagories.

2.     You’re chance of picking someone who is compatible to you is slim, but you have about the same odds in a normal dating situation.  At least you won’t have to worry about them changing; since you didn’t know them before your impromptu proposal.

3.     You have picked them solely on looks, so again this isn’t much different than a normal bar outing.  However, instead of a one night stand, you’ve picked up an old lady to worry about how much time you’re spending at the bar.


I’ve stopped listening again.  I even seem to have abandoned the search for more cream, considering that there were only three possible places for it to hide.  I look up from my coffee, which I have decided is more interesting than my girlfriend at the moment.  She looks pissed…this is understandable though.  I can’t really blame her, and then I notice something that I didn’t before.  As I pick up my cup to receive some reassurance from my caffeinated friend, I am confronted by the fact that my suspicions are correct, I’m about to be dumped.

Now average folk about to lose their girlfriend of three years might be about to cry, or wishing that they had the power to turn back time, or better yet wishing that this diner served alcohol through an IV.  I ,however, have decided to take a much better approach.  Just as the words escape her lips, just as I hear;

“I think it’d be better if we separated, found ourselves a little more first”

I do the only reasonable thing I can think of…I pour my coffee into my lap.