Venti Loco (Coffee House Tables are Too Close)

She walked into the coffee shop a full facade of anything real. There was a perfect tan all over except her hands, feet, and swaddle of skin under her neck. There was the big jewelry, the costume of it all put together at a Macy’s counter. The earrings, necklaces, and bracelets all playing second fiddle to her two carat diamond wedding ring. Her mid-level heels pushed her retirement aged curves beyond the point of where they had been twenty years earlier when teachers her age thought she was the hottest thing going. Now she survived on the  guise of confidence and the miracle of foundation that hid her deep set lines of age.

She was pushing sixty-two, but but she led a social life that took advantage of every moment. Today she was meeting a man her age, but he carried himself in a different way. Where she sported a mini-skirt and low cut blouse, he wore Dockers and an Oxford shirt. His hair was cut like his clothes, conservative and business casual. He was holding onto an old man look in a most relaxed way, no wrinkles, no paunch, and no formerly buffed muscles. He looked good and had no idea why because he just went about life in a direct way.

Their mid-morning meeting had the feel of a first date. There was a bit of awkwardness when they said hello. There was also a bit of familiarity as he grabbed the back of her arm as she balanced against him for a kiss on her cheek. They ordered coffee and leaned in over their cups taking stock of their public situation. Perhaps this was a coming out party. Was it possible that they had been carrying on secretly and this was their first time alone in public?

“I’ve been playing a lot of golf,” she said.

“Really. How is that?” he said.

“It’s great, different from tennis. I can play a round with anyone and don’t have to be matched with someone.”

“I never thought of it that way.”

“I’m better on the course now, too.”

“How so?”

“I don’t throw my clubs anymore. I used to get so mad. One time I dumped all of my clubs right there on the golf cart.”

“Probably not the best place for that kind of display.”

“No and learning to control my passion has made me a better player.”

She felt the need to talk. He listened.

“Tennis, though, that’s how I stay in shape,” she said.

“And it works very well for you.”

She smiled, “Thank you.” She was a little embarrassed for with all of the work that she put into looking the part of a sexy lady, her true feelings were anything but confident. She knew her arms were sagging and her hair was only salon bottle dark. She knew her time was passing, so she covered for her lack of confidence with a self-centered focus on the accomplishments of everything she had done, was doing, or wanted to do. She went on with a stream of her nervous talk. He listened patiently projecting interest while masking whatever it was he was thinking about behind his poker face and timed nods of affirmation.

“I love going to the movies. I just saw Dory at the dinner theater place.”

“I’m not sure about this election. I used to take my students to Richmond. We would meet the most important politicians.”

“Broadway is the greatest, don’t you think. My daughters and I just saw Hamilton. Did you and your wife go?” This was her not so subtle check on his marriage in an effort to gain insight into his intentions.

“Yes,” he said.

She kept going, “My father was in the military. We moved around a lot. It meant keeping friends hard. I think that’s why I do so much. When we settled in Williamsburg, I knew this would be the place for me.”

“Us, too.”

“I’m not a big fan of the climate. I prefer Arizona, but this is home.”

“Did you ever live in Arizona?” he asked.

“No, but we went with my daughters and grandkids last Christmas. It was perfect.” She was making sure he understood she was still married. He knew this was a weak proclamation.

“You hardly look like you could be a grandmother.”

“It’s the tennis, I guess,” she said.

“Or the new golf attitude.”

They sat looking towards each other with less first date nervousness and more of a “now what” agenda. As the coffee cooled, so did her energy to keep things moving. She leaned back and took in all that he was. He was handsome and professional. He was also married to a former colleague of hers. While she had been friends with the other teacher, she always had more interest in him than she did for his wife. She was nice enough, but she could never put her attraction to him in a place that would allow her to be close friends with his wife.

“Why are we here?” she asked.

“Can you to come over Friday night?”

“I’m not sure what to say. I’m flattered and I would love to, but what about your wife?”

“She’ll be there.”




  1. Chris, this is a wonderfully engaging story, I can just see these two sitting there with their coffee. You have described them perfectly, chuckled at, “There was the big jewelry, the costume of it all put together at a Macy’s counter.” Nice surprise at the end, “She’ll be there.” Thank you for a delightful read this morning. I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving, have a teriffic Friday, take care. ~ Mia

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