Dishwasher-bound glasses crashed chinkily. It wasn’t a wine bar—it was a coffee shop, The Drippery. I was sitting alone by the half-octagonal window outside which the city awaited me, or would have awaited me if I were that type of guy or it that type of city. The city was doing, that city of people and their projects. About seven cyclists rode by self-righteously in competitive gear, stopping traffic, prompting HOONs, BEEPS and, of course, as this is The City and its people are so important, bird flippage and a dissonant chorus of fuck-yous interspersed with at least one “this isn’t fuckin’ Westchester!” The hot-dog man brazenly pitched his stand at 9 AM and hid his lower face behind a newspaper as he scouted for incredibly eager business. Business men, like my father, talked their way to work cellularly or otherwise.
Inside the dark-wood-paneled-and-floored, red-brick-faced affair, typists typed—soul-patched guy, eyes crimped behind heavy frames; hemp-hatted, moon-faced co-ed girl versus a daunting cup of plain oatmeal, the latter was clearly winning; guy who resembled the lecturer who made me fall in love with philosophy, the cupid of discourse I might say if I were desperate enough to quip. There was a sexy, exotic-looking mocha-skinned lady behind the counter that day. I’d never seen her. I took a shot.
How to go about this, I wondered? Was it different? No—that’s racist. Just be natural. Just go. Just do. Just man up.
So I went up to the counter and ordered another coffee.
“Hey, I’ll take my regular.” I thought that was funny.
“This is my first day. What are you having?” She said, deadpan.
Ouch! Strike one, or was she playing? I called ball one—I pitched too high (low?) and she didn’t swing.
“I’ll have a medium Costa Rican and a formal introduction, pretty lady.” Nailed it!
“Okay, one Costa Rican coming up and then you should leave.”
I’m not a ten. All things considered I’m probably an eight-and-a-half. They say a confident male seven can bag an unconfident female ten. What does that say about a confident male eight-and-a-half and a confident female nine-and-a-half? Any case, I was undeterred and, frankly, falling in love with every further bit of data I gathered about this precious beauty—every bit of evidence suggesting towering self-respect and –esteem; restraint and skepticism in matters of love; oh-so-endearing and oh-so-deadpan coyness; and, of course, the sight of her made me gaga.
“You’re right—I have to go to work. But I’ll be gentlemanly calling again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and so on. You’re a gem, lady, and now that I’ve discovered you I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to coax you out of your native mine. Have yourself a good first day.”
She overfilled my coffee cup. Nailed it!