the contextual life

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coffeeshop negotiations

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sunday, 11:15am : communal table at coffeeshop
they have copies of a few newspapers on the communal table every morning for people to read. some old magazines are thrown in as well. by 10am the sections are scattered, corners tinted with the color of coffeestain and pages warped from dried spills.

it had rained all morning and finally, there was a break. not a very positive looking one but a break nonetheless. it seemed a few of us had taken the opportunity to get out of our apartments but still, the place wasn’t as crowded as usual.

the woman next to me was reading the new york times – the paper of the neighborhood – although i have caught a few hipsters reading the Post in earnest. the sections unread were still looped around each other, giving the sunday edition that substantial, all-day-affair look. the sections discarded we neatly to the left, unraveled and tamed. the front page of Business was facing up, showing it’s full-length, above-the-fold photo. i couldn’t clearly see what the picture was but it almost looked like two businessmen in the middle of an island-blue lightshow. 

i went back to reading my book and only looked up again when i noticed a man standing between us – his back to me and him gesturing to her. i couldn’t make out what he was saying but i assumeed from the way he was pointing to the the newspaper, he wanted a piece of it. ‘sure,’ said the woman in a nasally, yet warm french accent, ‘but i would like them back.’ ‘oh,’ said the man. he was, at first, taken aback but then realized the paper belonged to her – it wasn’t the table’s in pre-mangled form.

he’d approached her as if he was asking for what was rightfully his: the paper that she appeared to be hoarding. i assumed that she was put off by his tone but, being french, was accustom to sharing her paper at a local cafe. slightly embarrassed by his mistake but more concerned with finding something to read without strings attached, he distanced himself from her personal space while saying, ‘no no, it’s ok’. He reached out for the day-old arts section and went back to his single table.

the incident hung over us like the cloud-laden sky outside. i wanted to catch her eye, shrug and say something like, ‘he thought it was the table’s.’ but then i thought that would only create more confusion and i would either have to leave her more confused, mentally scarred by two people instead of one, or i would wind up explaining it, in full, possibly losing her at some point and annoying everyone else around us. so i kept my mouth shut but i wondered if she’d figured it out.

then she got up, the two newspaper sections in hand and walked over to the guy’s table. i’m sure in her cute, little french manner she pleaded with him to take the paper, that she didn’t mean to offend him – or something that like, maybe overcompensating for the perceived notions that americans have of the french. but she came back, papers in hand and placed them back on the table – the lightshow, bursting with shades of blue, caught my eye and for a very short moment, i thought asbout asking her for the Business section.

Written by Gabrielle

August 2, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Posted in coffeeshop chronicles

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