I hopped on my bike and coasted downhill to the Starbucks. I had been practicing my Euro-hipster look at home on the couch, skinny jeans, faded t-shirt, carefully manicured shaggy goatee with a pretentious dog-eared novel in a foreign language, and after many months of carefully adopting a seriously casual leg drape with accompanying ironically intellectual scowl I was ready to try it out in the guppy tank of PV moms and one-percent financial advisers.
I checked the mirror and decided to add a knitted cap and my trusty hoodie for an accent of locals-only surfer elan, and practiced a couple of slouches to see which one most clearly hid the title of my foreign language novel while nonetheless exposing it to anyone who took a second look, which everyone in PV always does.
As I stood in line I carefully studied the off-menu coffee menu at Starbucks, which is secretly posted on a giant hand-chalked board next to the regular menu. The thought that I could pay an extra couple of dollars to have something called “Sulawesi” rather than “Pike” made me feel even cooler. The farmers in Indonesia were doubtlessly benefiting from my fair trade organic purchase and in a generation or two would be driving SUV’s and sending their kids to Harvard. I love saving the world through a specialty drink caffeine addiction in a global conglomerate chain cafe.
With my steaming cup of earth-rescuing coffee (eco-friendly ceramic cup only please because, pandas) I strategically positioned myself on the long table and spread out my hipster props which included an aged and rugged shoulder bag whose faded color and nicks and patches suggested days alone in the Himalayas even though it was mostly a lock carrier that I used when I went to the mall. I opened my pretentious foreign language novel and tried to read a page or two before giving up, as it was in a foreign language and therefore almost impossible to understand, and anyway I don’t like to read.
It was about 3:00 PM and the high school kids were filtering in from across the street. This was kind of a bummer, because whereas the housewives would instantly recognize me as hip and mysteriously suave Bohemian who was either unemployed or living on a trust account and be awed by my thick foreign language novel, the kids would only see, and wrongly so, a wrinkly old bum who hadn’t shaved in a month.
Two boys burst in, grabbed a table, and whipped out their laptop-iPad thingies. One of them was tall and rather handsome, slim but not skinny with a shock of black hair and intelligent eyes that shot around the cafe looking for someone. The other was shorter, with high cheekbones and brilliantly white teeth. They looked together out into the parking lot, scanned it, and then went back to their phones and texted madly, never speaking.
A few minutes later in walked two girls. The one in front had light brown hair and very pale skin. Her eyes were green and her features, although plain, had the stunning beauty of youth that you only truly see when you are old, too old to even exist for them except perhaps, if you’re lucky, in the category of “Grandpa.” Her hair was tied back in long braid with a pink ribbon on the end, and she giggled when her friend said something and glanced over at the boys.
The friend had an enormous bouquet of black hair that was restrained with ties and ropes and ribbons and things, and her mouth was arced with full red lips of the most sensuous kind. Unlike the demure apparel of her friend, she was wearing a tight t-shirt with a deep vee that fought to contain her breasts, and a pair of intensely short shorts that folded around her thighs and butt with the fierce force of the world’s tightest shrink wrap.
I pretended not to notice, being concerned about various laws and being exceedingly ashamed at my high degree of observance, but being invisible to them it was hard not to stare. No one paid the least attention to my foreign language book, and on reflection I wondered if they even knew what a paperback was.
The girls sauntered over to the boys and a lively conversation ensued for a moment or two. There was electricity in the air. Then the girl with the braid pointed into the parking lot and I heard her say, “Mom’s here.” The two girls went outside as the ridiculously expensive German car pulled up with the 50-ish matron dressed and surgeried to pass for 40. The matron, I thought, would notice my book.
As the girls said their goodbyes, the gentle touch of hands became a hug, which became an embrace, which became a fully engaged kiss, the kiss of lovers, the kiss of young lovers, the passionate embrace of seventeen that you only feel once if you’re lucky, as the girl with the braid stroked the forehead of the girl with the wild hair, there in public for all to see, unabashed, unashamed, accepted by their families and the world, as young love is supposed to be.
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