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Duo and trio at the cafe

Thursday 4/13/23

Was at the cafe yesterday doing my Civil War reading. Once a week--I think it's once a week, and it's probably the same day, but I haven't made a point of confirming--a man comes in during the afternoon with his granddaughter. She's nursery school age, it seems. I think he has her one day a week. He's kind of loud, like he's speaking up so she can hear him. But he doesn't talk to her like she's a child, necessarily, but more like a little person. It's very funny and sweet. You can tell that she means so much to him, and she looks up to him.

There was a line yesterday, and the line was preventing the little girl from accessing the foodstuffs and drinks that are on a shelf at the bottom of the front counter. She darted one way, then the other, trying to find a gap in the ranks. I stepped back to make some space and said, "You have to get drinks and snacks," and she said, "Yes. Thank you." Two clearly complete sentences, with a dignified pause between them.

She picks two drinks, and apparently she had this fancy chocolate drinking coming from the bar that had already been ordered, which was the grandfather's concession to maybe something not super healthy. Because after that, he was reading the backs of the juice boxes, saying "No way. This has too much sugar, no."

And the girl responded by saying that she was probably going to end up thirsty, which seemed less of an attempt to lay down a preemptive guilt trip and more an honest concern. I get it--I end up drinking about three liters of water at night.

The girl wears glasses. They're not play glasses, but to see them before you knew better, you might think they were for a second. She had them on a few weeks ago for the first day. Again, the man is quite loud. His voice carries. Everyone in the place can hear him easily.

The glasses are bright pink. Bright purple-pink. I wouldn't call them ostentatious, so much as fun. The girl clearly likes them a lot. I don't know that she likes having to wear glasses, but she likes her glasses. And her grandfather was saying how super they were and he wished he had a pair like that. As soon as the sentence was out of his mouth, she had taken them off and tried to hand them to him.

There were also these three guys in front of me. Older guys, but also a range of ages themselves. One of them spoke in a manner that employed what many people would term "vocab" words. I think he was probably a teacher or professor. Something like that.

Another of the guys was a veteran. He had on a baseball cap--the old school mesh kind on top--with an American flag and an eagle--big eagle--in front of it. You could tell that he was proud of his service.

Then there was this tough, wiry guy, who spoke in double negatives, and swore a bunch so that the kids at the surrounding tables heard him. Not out of malice or anything, of course, but rather because that's just how he speaks and he might not be able to rein it back very much, especially when he's out with the guys and is excited and caught up in the conversation and the sharing of memories.

These men were clearly tight. Good friends, very disparate people. Different ways of talking.

They talked a lot about baseball. Everyone was a kid. "That kid on Colorado," for instance. I think it's safe to say they wouldn't have been adherents of modern day analytics. They enthused about the batting title, for instance, and esteemed this achievement as a towering one.

Certain conversation has a rhythm, and you can hear it and still do what you're doing, even if that's a word-based thing--like reading--and not be distracted. It's almost like another track in a recording. I was deep in my book, when the wiry guy turned around and addressed the attractive woman--who was maybe thirty--sitting on the chair next to me, working. He said, "She's not even going to support me with these guys." It was awkward. Not a very successful attempt to include someone in the conversation or joke, whatever that joke was. I don't think she knew any more than I did.

He wasn't done. He was laughing in a way that was borderline wheezing, and he added, "She's like Switzerland!" She may or may not have gotten the jocular add-on to the joke she hadn't heard, but there wasn't really much she could do, save kind of pretend she hadn't noticed. Then they went back to talking about baseball.

I think that they might also get together once a week. There are all of these little windows into lives. You go somewhere, you're living your life, focused on what you must do, but if you're open, there are these stories and parcels of information and forms of truth and indications of things that matter to people, the hopes they have, their insecurities, the things they need.

You're never really just doing what you're doing. Unless you're removed from the world, rather than making sure you're present in it. And then it becomes part of one's nature, being present.


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