Corner Man

I got to the restaurant early and picked a seat in the corner where I could see the whole place. Sitting with my back to the wall allows the best view of all the happenings going on. I had not been to Drip in several years, so it felt like my first time there. If Starbucks is the Wal-Mart of coffee, Drip would have to be the idea that Starbucks wants to market, a cool place to hang out and have good coffee.

My friend arrived and we had the usual banter, work, The Wire, kids. From where I sat I could take it all in. There were suburban moms who had just finished working out before heading home to the family. They didn’t care a bit about the sweat or their sweats for they were confident in their lives. Then there were the suburban, recently single moms who came in all dolled up trying to impress with their heals and straightened hair. While Drip was a step up from Starbucks, these woman were way over the top.

There were men there too. Some were old guys who were out to read the paper, have some eggs, and just enjoy the quiet time that the diner atmosphere provided. One guy could not pull himself away from work and sat with his plate on his lap while he tapped numbers into some spreadsheet on his lap top, which was on the counter for some reason. For awhile I thought the crowd was too vanilla, but then I remembered I was in Hockessin.

Then the place got interesting. My friend was talking about sports memorabilia when I had to interrupt.

“Bernard Hopkins,” I said.

My friend looked back and our conversation turned to the history of this great boxer. I kept an eye on him and wondered how he might answer some questions about success, failure, and resilience. I wondered how he thought his experience as a boxer might transfer to someone who had never boxed.

As I looked around the room, I also wondered how many people knew who he was. We were sitting next to one of the all-time great boxers, yet he was moving through the restaurant without an entourage or anyone going over to him for an autograph or selfie. It was cool that everything was so low key, but kind of sad too, because he is such a great boxer.

When it was time to go my friend dared me to walk by Mr. Hopkins and fake a punch. There was no way I would want to inject myself into his life while he was having breakfast. That would be rude. Really, though, I wouldn’t want the punch that might come back because I’m really just a corner man.


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