A cafe. I’m drinking coffee, typing on a laptop. I am trying do some writing. But it’s hard to concentrate.
Namely, because I am sitting beside a group of middle-aged women who are having a conversation about Tupperware.
“Do you remember my friend Martha?” says one woman. “Martha has a Tupperware container, she got it at Target, she can put anything in it.”
“Yep, anything she wants, she just puts it in the container.”
“She got it at Target.”
“They have good containers at Target.”
“Martha just loves it.”
“I’d love a container like that.”
Across the cafe, I see an old man. He’s alone, eating a sandwich, sipping coffee. He wears a ratty ball cap and gazes out the window. I have a soft spot for old men who gaze out windows.
Over to my left are teenagers—boys and girls. One boy is wearing a Boy Scout uniform, a girl sits beside him. They are holding hands. These kids are so happy they belong in padded cells.
Also, an elderly couple sits behind me. He’s talking into a cellphone, using a voice loud enough to register on the Richter Scale.
Cellphone man shouts, “My doctor said my heart is looking good, darling! There’s nothing to worry about! I don’t need surgery after all!”
And the woman beside me keeps saying:
“Oh, Martha told me the lid just unscrews off her container.”
“The lid unscrews?”
“On and off, just like this.”
“How does it go back on?”
“When you wanna put the lid on, you screw it on. When you wanna take it off, you unscrew it.”
“Whose container is this again?”
“Martha’s container, she got it at Target.”
For the love of Hank.
The old man in the ratty cap is still looking out the window. He wears a tired face, it looks like he hasn’t shaved in days, his shirt has stains on it, and I can’t help but wonder who he belongs to.
Cellphone Man’s wife leans forward and shouts into the phone. “We’re so grateful your father’s heart is okay! We miss you, darling!”
Laughing from the ladies beside me.
“Well, I’ve never had a lid that unscrews,” one woman says. “I’ve only had containers with lids that pop off. ”
“Me, too. My lids have always just popped off.”
“Whenever I wanted to take my lids off, I just popped them off, and that was how we did it.”
The man in the ball cap has finished his sandwich. Now, he is sipping his coffee with both hands. He stares out the window with the same eyes you’d find on a bloodhound.
His eyes follow a red SUV that rolls into the parking lot. A young woman steps out. She is tall, blonde, and well-dressed. The old man is obviously taken with this woman because he is glued to the window.
“Yep, Martha just walked right into Target and told that man, ‘I want a container with a lid that unscrews.’”
“Target has containers like that?”
“They most certainly do.”
Teenagers laugh. The Boy Scout and his girl are closer now. She’s leaning on him. I wish you could see how uncomfortable, but sincere they look. Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out.
No matter how old I get, there will always be something about young romance that gives me hope for the human race.
The old man in the cap stands. The blonde woman from the SUV walks into the cafe, she makes a beeline for the old man. They embrace. Hard. He is facing me. He pats her shoulders and closes his eyes. He is fully in the moment.
“Daddy,” I hear the blonde say. “Have you been waiting long?” she says.
He grins. “Nope, just got here.”
Cellphone Man and his wife are still sharing the phone. It’s on speaker so everyone in the restaurant can enjoy their conversation. “We’re coming to see you tomorrow! We can’t wait to see you! We love you so much!”
The old man in the cap is still embracing the young woman. She is pressing her cheek against his. If I’m not mistaken, he is crying. Soon, they leave together, arm in arm. He crawls into her SUV and they disappear.
The Boy Scout presses his forehead against the girl’s forehead. They are closing their eyes, smiling. She kisses his cheek ever so slightly. This sends the boy into orbit. They’re perfect.
Anyway, I guess I’m not going to get any writing done today. I’m too busy people-watching. But who cares? I’m seeing the mystery of the universe unfold itself right here in a small cafe.
Though, it’s not just in cafes, it’s in supermarkets, high schools, airports, Waffle Houses, fellowship halls, trailer parks, county prisons, living rooms, hospitals, rehabs, classrooms, and nursing homes.
People who love each other are everywhere.
Lord, may I be one of those people.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to swing by Target on the way home.