The man at the table next to me looks like he’s just come from the gym. Actually, he looks like he lives in a gym, because those are seriously the biggest biceps I have ever seen, and he has the smooth, hairless look of someone who regularly oils up for bodybuilding competitions. He boots up his laptop and pulls out a book titled “Refrigeration 1994.” In 1994 I was a senior in high school. I have one of those senior pictures with the big number blocks 9 and 4, and in the picture I have huge, very curly hair. My last purchase of pink lipstick probably dates to 1994, also. My hair has changed considerably, and I have to believe that refrigeration has changed considerably during that time as well. When he reads, he rocks forward and back from the waist as if he’s in a catatonic state. He would have been right at home in an audition for Cuckoo’s Nest, a background character scuttling out of the way of Nurse Ratched. He wears a wedding band. His fingernails are very well groomed; they put mine to shame.
At the next table over is a man reading today’s edition of New York Times, out loud to himself in a not particularly quiet monotone. The name on his plastic Frappuccino cup is “Mark.” He reads nonstop, one word after another, pausing only to follow the jump to an inside page.
An intense-looking blonde woman comes over with her coffee, sees rocking man, reading-to-self man and me (woman avoiding novel revisions), then turns and heads for an outdoor table.
A fiftyish-woman comes in sporting baggy overalls and gray pigtails. She reminds me of a carnival attraction –the young woman with the old face. For no reason at all, she grins broadly at me, and for no reason at all, I grin right back.
In general, I’m against sequins on jeans, but what walks through the door next gives me immediate pause. This woman is older, sixtyish, wearing black heeled sandals, black jeans with tiny sequins on the pockets, a black and white shirt with a black scarf wrapped around the waist, and a black cardigan. She has a serious diamond on her finger. Her companion (tallest woman to walk into this brach of Starbucks today, I’m convinced), is also wearing black and white, which leads me to believe they are caterers or wedding planners or hostesses at a restaurant downtown. They are fantastically overdressed and impeccably groomed for a Saturday afternoon latte.
I start to wonder what I’ll look like when I’m in my fifties, sixties. Will I go the pigtail route or the sequined jeans route? Will I ever have my life together enough to have my fingernails and toenails painted at the same time?
I take a long sip of my latte, which has cooled considerably, and wait to see what comes through the door next.
Paula Treick DeBoard