Monday, April 04, 2016

When All You Have is a Paper Placemat

Save the waitresses, I am the only woman in the whole restaurant. The counter, the booths, the tables are all occupied by old men. A few sit by themselves, absorbed in their newspapers and eggs. Most of them, though, sit in groups of three or four. They talk about the things of those who aren't old enough to be elderly but for whom youth is faint. From the corner booth, I hear snippets of wives, of diabetes, of boyhood fistfights. Bravado is gone and these men, in their knit beanies, remember being afraid to fight but doing it anyway. The tenderness with which they treat one another is wrapped in a crunchy layer of ribbing and is beautiful.

For that one, serene coffee shop moment, I see these men as the they boys they once were, that they still are, behind their grey beards and their glasses and the careful chewing of toast.

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