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Monday Musings and Motivations — Part Fifty-Two — Connections

Not crowded yet, but good music and coffee. Plus it smells good in here.

Not crowded yet, but good music and coffee. Plus it smells good in here.

I walk into a coffeehouse, specifically one that is global and serves happy hour libations in some areas now. It’s early afternoon and I wait in line, only one person in front of me and then it’s my turn.

“I’d like a Venti Decaf.” My usual is a Venti No-Fat Vanilla Cappuccino but if I order that, I’ll be up all night so I go for the decaf.

“We have to make it on the Clover,” the woman says as she talks to the baristas beside her and then looks at me and smiles.  “We stop brewing after one o’clock.”

We make small talk; how beautiful the weather has been lately.  Have you noticed that when you trade small talk with someone you don’t know, the main topic is usually weather?

I ask if I can transfer a balance that’s on a card I use for buying this elixir onto my phone.  “Sure.” She taps on the register keys and says,  “Put your phone up to the scanner.”

MagicCoffeeThe magic scanner transfers it to my phone.  She doesn’t ask for my name to write on the cup, instead she scribbles what it is I’ll be drinking.  I hover near the counter and for the time being, I will be known simply as Venti Decaf.  

A twenty-something female finishes up someone else’s order:  Grande Mocha Latte with whipped cream!  I wait while she clovers my coffee.  There are thumps and bangs, she wipes things.  She looks up when I say, “How’s your day?”

“Good.” She smiles at me, asks me what it’s like outside and tells me I’m off in about ten minutes.  I tell her it’s a beautiful day.  There’s that weather thing again.  I ask her where she’s from.

“Memphis,” she says.

I tell her my family lives there and we learn that we both once lived in Midtown, an area that lays claim to The Shell where many a musician has played since it was built in 1936.  She lived on Idlewild, me on Peabody.  I tell her how I sometimes I miss the flavor that is Memphis.

I didn't have this today because of the time, but this is pretty, isn't it?

I didn’t have this because of the time, but this is pretty, isn’t it?

“That’s it,” she says.  “People don’t know understand this about Memphis.  They only think about the bad things, but it has a flavor to it. That’s it!”  She and her husband recently moved here and we talk about that, how our situations are similar and what we like and don’t like about here.  We reminisce a little more and she hands me my coffee.

We know each other’s names now, but I’ll call her Memphis from now on and the next time I go in there, she’ll remember me, tell me she told her husband about how I got the flavor of Memphis.

Instrumental music is playing, one of those songs with whistling in it that was popular in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill-type movies.

I score the best table, the one in the corner where you can see everyone coming and going.   Someone gets up as I approach.  He hurries past me, talks on his phone and throws a cup and napkin away as he exits.  I wipe the table off, pull my laptop out of my bag, plug it in, scoot a chair next to me and put the bag and my purse on it.

Proper Coffee House Etiquette: To watch another patron’s stuff when she/he leaves the premises for short periods of time, including but not limited to bathroom duty/watch.

Proper Coffee House Etiquette: To watch another patron’s stuff when she/he leaves the premises for short periods of time, including but not limited to bathroom duty/watch.

A young man sits to my right.  He’s resizing a text box on what looks to be a website he’s working on and then clicks over to another window, perusing a college website, Clemson.  He turns to me and says, “Can you watch my stuff?”  I tell him yes.

He walks to the bathroom.  He has sandy-colored hair and wears a white shirt with light gray stripes and jeans. We establish a watch-my-stuff thing when he gets back for whenever one of us has to get up and go somewhere.  I call him Clemson in my mind.

I look up and watch Memphis walk out the door, anxious to go somewhere else or meet someone.

I write.  When my eyes need rest, I pull my glasses off and look around.  Observe. Listen. Try to come up with a word that describes how tree frogs sound.  I settle on ba-deep and stop typing.

A devil-may-care kind of cap he wore, sans cigar and he didn't look like Paul Newman.

A devil-may-care kind of cap he wore, sans cigar and he didn’t look like Paul Newman.

An insouciant older gentleman sits at one of the small round tables against the wall.  He pecks on his laptop, hunting for the keys he needs, looking down, then at the screen. He wears an English driving cap and he sings along with Dean Martin, That’s Amore! and isn’t timid about it.  He doesn’t look at anyone.  He just sings and sings, knowing all the words.  I smile because I think that’s great.

A man dressed in a suit puts his coffee on a table, pulls out his cell phone and starts talking to someone, trying to keep his voice quiet and failing miserably.  “So I just have, you know…I will explain it to them.  I don’t want to burn any bridges…yeah, yeah,” he listens to whomever’s response.  I tune him out.

“Watch my stuff?”  Clemson asks me.  A young woman wearing tight peach-colored shorts with her hair in a ponytail waits for him, her body already turning toward the door.  He tells her about our agreement.  She doesn’t look at me, walks out the door.  I smile at Clemson, give him a thumbs-up.  He follows peach ponytail, out to her car I’m guessing.

Two tall blonde women walk in, laughing unselfconsciously and loudly the way young women do, all squeals and no ways!  One wears turquoise capri pants and a white tank top, the other black shorts and a flowered shirt, made of something thin and wispy.

Volare, oh, oh!  Cantare, oh oh oh oh!  Dean is singing loudly and so is older cap man.

Testosterone Exchanges: Occurs in public venues. Can include high fives, smacking of hands on hands and shoulders and excitable utterances such as Hey Man, Yeah Man, Dude, as well as guffaws and other loud exchanges.

Testosterone Exchanges: Occurs in public venues. Can include high fives, smacking of hands on hands and shoulders and excitable utterances such as Hey Man, Yeah Man, Dude, as well as guffaws and other loud exchanges.

A man dressed in blue scrubs sits at a table behind the older cap man now, staring at his screen.  He looks up when another man walks up to him and says, “Hey man!”  They smack and slap hands the way men do.  “Good to see you,” one of them says to the other.  “Yeah, man, you too.”

They laugh and talk about some night they did something and what someone did and then laugh and yeah, man! more.  They smack hands again before they part ways.  Blue scrubs, who I determine is the alpha male, goes back to his computer.

Older cap man leaves, singing as he does.

Four leather chairs, in rows of two, dominant the middle of the shop.  In one, a middle-aged sunburned man slumps, his legs splayed out in front of him.  He looks angry but maybe it’s the sunburn.  He wears khaki shorts and a red plaid shirt.  He pulls a paperback out of a bag and begins to read.

In the other row, a girl sits cross-legged, eating a cookie and drinking amber-colored tea.  She has headphones plugged in and she pecks on her laptop, the Apple glows as she does.  She shakes her head slightly every once in awhile,  Is she reading an email?  What is she disagreeing with?

La, la, la, la, la la…some kind of Italian or Polish song is playing.  You’ve heard it before, it’s a dance-like accordion song.

I go back to my writing and everything is background noise.  I look up occasionally, get up every once in a while. Clemson watches my stuff when I do.  One of the women who works at the shop comes to wipe up people’s drips and asks Clemson if she could move one of his tables.  I’d not noticed he had two scooted together.  I don’t think he did either.

He apologizes for taking two tables and the woman moves a table over to a gray-haired man who wears orange earplugs and has his computer balanced on a tall stool.  She moves the stool back to its proper place, underneath a long, tall table where no one sits.  Clemson and the gray-haired man trade pleasantries.

The gray-haired man has a satchel draped over his shoulder.  His laptop displays what looks like geological measurements, pictures  There’s some kind of black rectangular thing attached to the top of his computer and a smaller square device attached to the lower left corner.  I want to ask him what they are but I don’t.

I write for another forty-five minutes.  Clemson has left by now so I have no one to watch my stuff.

I think to myself that all of us, here on this day—coming and going, staring into computers, pecking out pieces of our psyches, reading, socializing—we’ve come here to do this.

Connect, if only briefly.

I unplug, pack up my stuff and leave.


Happy Monday everyone and what connections have you made lately?  What’s your favorite coffeehouse music?  Do you like the idea of coffeehouses having happy hour?

What’s your coffee drink name—does it differ according to time of day?

P.S.  Enjoy some music.  It’s what was playing when I left.

Photo creds:  cap, two men

About Brigitte



30 thoughts on “Monday Musings and Motivations — Part Fifty-Two — Connections

  1. This is a wonderful “slice-of-life”, you had me right there with you. The name of my drink is, Coffee—Black. I almost got run out of Seattle with that beverage choice.

    Posted by Allan G. Smorra | April 28, 2014, 11:02 am
  2. I don’t hang out in coffee houses, but after reading your post, I’m wondering if I should. Not for writing–I don’t think I’d get anything done. I like it quiet. But just for people-watching and taking notes. Could come in handy when formulating future characters. Of course, I wouldn’t be as good at the small talk as you, but I guess it’s something to shoot for. 🙂

    Sounds like you had a wonderful experience on your latest outing.

    Posted by Carrie Rubin | April 28, 2014, 11:10 am
    • I have to get out sometimes and there at times (like the one described in this post) that inspires me and does give me ideas for characters. I love writing dialogue and I find that when I get out and just listen and observe, it improves my writing.

      This was one of those good writing days for me and I finished a chapter. I’m thinking of trying different venues just to see what happens. Thanks, Carrie.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 28, 2014, 11:14 am
  3. And she’s back… Awesome writing Brigitte. The view was colorful and flavorful. I dig it

    Posted by unfetteredbs | April 28, 2014, 12:07 pm
  4. I drink coffee and chicory, laced with evaporated milk and a spoon of sugar. I acquired the taste as a child, visiting family in New Orleans–family who lost everything but their laughter and deep love of each other in Katrina.

    Your work always resounds with me, which is what we desire as writers I think. Well done.

    Posted by Addie | April 28, 2014, 12:33 pm
    • Chicory! That’s your coffee name, Addie and a good one at that. It allegedly has many health advantages, doesn’t it? It sounds like an artsy and soulful elixir, very fitting for you. And thank you for your wonderful comment—it means a lot and I’m so glad you liked it.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 28, 2014, 12:39 pm
  5. Love all the detailed descriptions and deliberately chosen adjectives. I’m an adjective gal myself so I appreciate it when someone uses them so well. I love coffeehouses in general, although not usually to do any serious work since I’d get too distracted. Reading though is perfect and it makes me look forward to the next time I can do that (most likely after the craziness of schoolwork has calmed down). My coffee name is typically Tall/Small Latte regardless of the time of day and even country that I’m in. Well, except Italy. There, I had a brief stint as Cappuccino. 😉

    Posted by lillianccc | April 29, 2014, 6:23 am
    • Hey Tall latte! Ha, thanks for playing along, Lillian. I love adjectives as well and they are necessary in good writing. The trick is not over doing which I’ve also been known to do. I’m glad you enjoyed and of course you’d have a cappuccino in Italy. Molte benne!! Ciao Lillian and thanks.

      Sent from Brigitte’s iPad


      Posted by Brigitte | April 29, 2014, 10:50 am
  6. Thanks for taking us along on your coffeehouse adventure, Brigitte. I love your descriptions and impressions. Great stuff to save for characters in your book, yes? You have an acute eye for just the right amount of detail, my friend.

    And connections for me? Interesting that you’d bring it up here. I’ve been doing some serious reconnecting and strengthening connections. Especially with my only sister who will be moving here later in the summer once the dust has settled from leaving a long and unhappy situation. I’m very excited to continue the reconnecting process – we haven’t lived near each other in many, many years.

    Posted by Cathy Ulrich | April 29, 2014, 9:44 am
    • Thanks for coming along, Cathy. It’s good practice, observing and writing about what I see, hear, feel, smell, etc. And thank you. Some days I’m more acute than others.

      How exciting! It’s been a very long time since I’ve lived near family. You must be thrilled that you’ll be able to see your sister whenever you want and I’m sure you’ll give her the sustenance she needs. It’s what sisters do, right? Thanks Cathy.

      Sent from Brigitte’s iPad


      Posted by Brigitte | April 29, 2014, 10:55 am
  7. I love this slice of life! Observing people and surroundings is so great because it shows that you took time to appreciate the little things. Very nice Brigitte!

    Posted by Lily | April 29, 2014, 10:01 am
  8. Bits of Brigitte – loved this. Your attention to detail is amazing, inspiring.

    Posted by mabukach | April 29, 2014, 11:10 am
  9. I’ve always been a coffee shop worker. Even in college, I never studied in the library – it was too quiet. Once I turned 21, I started studying in bars, but only the nice ones with jazz music playing in the background. Somehow homework isn’t so tedious when you have a glass of house red within reach 🙂

    As for my coffee drink, it would be Double Tall Soy Latte. Iced, if it’s especially hot outside.

    Posted by Erin E. | April 29, 2014, 5:45 pm
    • Hi Erin (DT Soy Latte!)’ Great to see you again. Sometimes there’s something comforting about coffee houses to me. Like you, if it’s too quiet, I get a bit antsy. A nice glass of wine can be very nice to move a story along. Thanks and hope to see you again soon.


      Posted by Brigitte | April 29, 2014, 6:10 pm
  10. Writing in coffee houses has never been my thing, Brig. Like Carrie, I work best in silence, and preferably, alone. Also, I’m a tea drinker — black, the high octane flavors, but never, ever Earl Grey. That tastes like a cup of flowers to me. My quirks aside, that was a very productive visit. Not only did you sip a brew you enjoyed, you indulged in some fine people watching and cranked out such an inspired post. Recently, I ushered an Off-Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera. Brecht is over my head, but that show has some very fine music, and of course, Mack the Knife.

    Posted by lameadventures | April 29, 2014, 10:30 pm
    • Hey V, well it’s a thing when I’m in the mood. I think it comes from a time in my life where I lived alone and I found background noise soothing and comforting. I can tune it out if it’s a dull mumble, but if there’s loud talkers or children doing what children do, then no. Sometimes tea can hype me up as much as coffee, even the decaf! Glad you enjoyed the post and Mack the Knife does make you move around a little, doesn’t it? Thanks, V!

      Posted by Brigitte | April 30, 2014, 9:40 am
  11. I used to be in love with Bobby–though by the time I was in love with him he was dead. Love this piece–love the connections made, the friendliness, but lack of neediness–thanks for Bobby–still have a crush on him!

    Posted by on thehomefrontandbeyond | April 30, 2014, 8:42 am
    • He was a cutey, wasn’t he? He kind of had that bad boy look about him and those old movies with him and Sandra Dee were entertaining. I think they may have had a thing, who knows? Thanks for reading Lou and it’s wonderful to see you here again!

      Posted by Brigitte | April 30, 2014, 9:42 am
  12. I must confess, my mind went straight to the Gipsy Kings when you mentioned Volare. 😉 Otherwise, I was there in the coffee shop with you, hearing you talk with Memphis and watching how you and Clemson kept watch over each other’s stuff. I wish I could write in environments like that, but the noise is too distracting for me. But when I’m in a setting like that, sipping on a macchiato or cappuccino, the glimpses of other patrons and snippets of conversation can become inspiration or be worked into a story later.

    I’m partial to a late afternoon glass of wine, so I wouldn’t be adverse to having one in a coffee shop. 😉

    Posted by jmmcdowell | April 30, 2014, 3:32 pm
    • Hi J! Theirs is a very cool rendition but Dean was singing that day. I’m sure he had a jack and coke and a cigarette while doing so. I’m glad you came along with me and that day I was inspired and actually finished a chapter. My writerly friend and I traded chapters and ooVoo’ed and I’ve rewritten some parts, but I was in a zone that day and actually stopped before I became too burned out. I think it helps tremendously to listen to people—it’s great for dialogue and I’ve either used something I’ve heard or it’s inspired something.

      And yes, a glass of vino can really spark the imagination as well. Great to see you here and hope your writing is going wonderfully.

      Posted by Brigitte | April 30, 2014, 4:02 pm
  13. Oh this gave me a smile and let me know, I need to get out in the world more!

    Posted by Maggie O'C | May 14, 2014, 6:10 pm
  14. Sounds like a lovely, and lively, cafe, Brigitte. My winter drink is a venti decaf. When it’s warm out, I order a “iced decaf quad espresso in a venti cup.” Can’t tolerate caffeine! Happy drinking-writing-hanging out! xoxoM

    Posted by Margarita | May 14, 2014, 6:10 pm
    • M, it was and is. I go there often to write. You and I share the same Venti Decaf love. I don’t know why I don’t ever order the cold coffee drinks but I don’t. I’m very old school and particular about my coffee, always want it hot! I can’t tolerate caffeine after a certain point or I’ll be up all night long. The same to you, friend. xoxo

      Sent from Brigitte’s iPad


      Posted by Brigitte | May 15, 2014, 9:36 am


  1. Pingback: Thank You All! « LargeSelf - April 30, 2014

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