In contrast, the bright orange tiled walls seemed almost garish against the gray sky outside, but the perfectly dimmed lights cast shadows in all the right places of the café to make it the ideal environment to meet with friends on a rainy day.
The room held a hum of conversations. Nearly every table was occupied, by either couples, friends, or family. Surprising for a Tuesday afternoon. Pinpointing a single conversation or voice proved to be a challenge with the crowd.
An elderly man sat at the table across from me, a stack of two empty cake plates in front of him. He took slow sips of his black coffee while he skimmed through an unrecognizable newspaper. His tan Columbia cap covered his circled glasses and didn’t seem interested in anything else besides his paper.
“They’re all in bloom.”
“All the bikers come. A zillion bikers come. They line the streets.”
“I have a tutor. I have all the paperwork. I have 2,000 bucks.”
The sound of the espresso machine breaks up various conversation around the room.
“Pumpkin muffin!” A male barista announces to the group.
The hall leading to the back rooms of Sweetlife is covered in concert poster and want-ads that flutter in sequence every time someone walks past.
Tasting: chocolate, salt, vanilla cake all combined into a delicious afternoon snack.
“You can’t find me. You can’t find me.” Two young siblings taunt each other as they hide between chairs and under the tables.
Metal forks on ceramic plates fill the breaks in conversation. The dragging of chairs from under tables comes occasionally as customers leave and new ones arrive. The front glass door squeaks loudly when it’s opened and bounces twice in its frame when it closes.
“I’ll have time to work there…”
“I spent over 300 bucks…”
“Okay, I’ll be here.”
“He’s so hot…”
Snippets of phrases floating around the room from the teenage girls across the room sitting beside a wall of glass, a threesome of middle-aged women at the center of the room, and the two women and their three children’s play date with each other.
There’s the clink of a spoon stirring in a mug, the rustle of newspapers, the crinkle of a wax paper bag.
The crowd has thinned a bit and individual conversations are easier to pick up on.
“You know, it’s a standardized form of tests and I’m hoping to just get a B. If you get to a problem…”
“So you just gotta look at it and say “I dont get this” and move on.”
An older woman with pink-ish tinted hair coughs deeply before stirring more sugar into her coffee. She sits by herself but seems to be waiting for someone.
“They’re really not that bad. There’s a couple that you can just eyeball. A few of them I did this morning..”
“Did they give you a formula?”
“They did, but I forgot what to do with it.”
“Hey, man.” One barista greets his coworker.
“Hey, what’s up…” The second barista says and then walks away with a black container of dishes held in his arms.
“So, I talked to Ken. Um.. yeah… Told him I was coming through. Told him I wanted to visit…”
“The number I have doesn’t work so I couldn’t get a hold of her.”
“Do you like shortbread?”
Panels of dark wood line the ceiling.
The children sitting at the bar table giggle with each other and squirm in their seats. The window against their table rattles when they kick at it.
“I’d be like, “I’m going to Paris for three days” and I’d pack my back and I’d just go…because he didn’t want to go.”
“I can pet her and stuff but she won’t get on my lap.”
“So since then it’s hard obviously. There’s a lot of stuff that goes along with it that I wasn’t expecting…”
“So, do you think you’ll end up dating Ryan?”
Coffee and sugar wafts through the air as people pass by my table.
“And guys, please take your cups to the bin. To the black bin…”
“I can’t believe she would do that.”
“Willow, don’t forget your stuffed animals.”
The beep of a timer goes off somewhere in the kitchen and there the sound of ice shaking in a tumbler.