|This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
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Good day all, the following is another fictional visit to Tamara’s Teanco Bistro and you’ve arrived just as Tamara and I start a conversation. Please help yourself to whatever she laid out on the counter. She told me that she enjoys our visits so much that she’s going to comp us for all the tea, coffee and snacks we’d like to encourage us to keep coming back.
I think it’s just more evidence that she is secretly a trust fund baby and runs the bistro for the fun of it rather than to make a living. I’m glad you stopped by.
“Hey Tamara, great spread today. What’s the sweet bread I smell?”
“Just an old spiced banana bread recipe. You’ve had it before and didn’t die.”
At the risk of spiking my blood sugar, I grab a thick slice and my giant tea mug and sit across the table from her, both of us in front of the fireplace – cold and silent this morning because we’re expecting a hot day here.
“Gary, I wanted to ask if you know Marcos Devila?”
“Is that the same Marcos you dated in high school?”
“Nope; different guy. This Marcos sell boats up in Windsor. He moved here from Florida a couple years back .”
“Doesn’t sound familiar. Why?”
“He asked my sister out and I’m trying to figure out if I like him for her.”
“Ah, got it. Any known felonies or warrants ?
“How could I know any of that?”
“Any padded shoulder shirts, man bun, topees, or unnatural body hair colors?”
She laughs. “Would you get serious? I just want to know if she would be safe with him and if they would be compatible.”
“Does your sister have any tattoos?”
“What !? None that you need to know about.”
“Not helpful. But if your sister has one, she might be more willing to date men that do.”
“How can you say that?”
“Tattoos can be really polarizing. Some think a tattoo makes the person while other think that God hasn’t made the body that can be improved by one.”
“Well, men should not judge a woman by her tattoos or lack thereof.”
“Ah – and there’s the question then. Exactly how should one person should judge another”
“Certainly not by tattoos or topees.”
“But what then? ”
Tamara opens her mouth to speak. “No wait; that was rhetorical. Hold your thought. “You’re going to say something like ‘what they like or what they like to do.’
This would begin a long list of choices: country & western or rock, hard cover books, kindle or TV, Facebook or Instagram, omnivore or vegan, sports fan or hunter, pocket comb or pocket knife, zero-logo T-shirts or fan wear, Christian, Muslim, other or none, unblemished skin or various facial piercings and the list goes on and on. . .
“Each of these are pieces of the puzzle, like data points of what a person values and believes – to form a composite image of who they are.”
“Wow! You forgot long walks on the beach hand-in-hand or beer around the bonfire. Gracious! How long have you been carrying that list around? But I think you actually have a point in there. Each of those could tell you a lot about a person. Collect enough and you know them.”
“Exactly. Let’s try something. What’s in your pockets? Go ahead, empty them onto the table.”
Tamara makes a suspicious face. “Are you interrogating me?”
“No. I’m demonstrating a fun way to get to know you.”
“You already know me.”
“Work with me here. Let’s see what I might learn from what’s in your pockets.”
Reluctantly, she stands up, lifts her apron and pulls things from her pockets.
“Ah, Apple phone, not Android, which may suggest a lower tolerance of technology, but otherwise not helpful – without the password.” I give her a questioning glance but she quickly shakes her head ‘no-way’. “A receipt from – Starbucks?! What were you doing at Starbucks?”
“Checking out a certain drink from the competition. It’s a business expense and deductible.”
“Ah. That suggests you really do have some business savoy. What else? Cherry ChapStick; coupled with visual access to your face could suggest – umm, she takes good care of herself and might be a tasty kisser. Is this all you have?”
“Yes. I’m a girl you lump. Look how tight these jeans are How would I get anything else in these pockets and many woman’s pants don’t even have pockets.” I push my face into a surprised but neutral stare realizing that we’d just entered a no-comment-is-safe zone. She smirks at me, collects her things, straightens her apron and continues. “This is why we have to use purses and, no, before you ask, I am not dumping my purse for you.”
“Not even for the sake of social forensic science?”
“Nope forget it. Your turn. Stand and dump buddy.”
I breath deeply, stand and pullout my Android phone, hanky, wallet, keys, my 3-blade pocket knife, a Leatherman multi-tool, nail clippers, small spiral note pad, pen and coin purse.
“Okay, now this is fun. Let’s see. I bet you’re not offering the password to your phone either. I am not touching that hanky – ick. Worn leather wallet. I could learn lots from your cards, ID – aaaaaand, here it is; your library card.
“You are a pocket knife guy and I don’t see a comb – opps, sorry about that. ” She laughs briefly at the bald guy. “You have keys to a Toyota so are most likely not wealthy.
“So,this is a Leatherman. I’ve heard about them. Look at all the tools you carry around. This does sound like you. Whoa, four screw drivers? Gary, this is cool. I love the pliers. Does it come in pink?
“Nail clippers, dull but practical. The note pad is a cool idea and doesn’t require a password. Can I look?”
I shrug, “Knock yourself out. How dumb would I have to be to put embarrassing things in there?”
“Well, it’s a good idea, handy and it looks like you put all kinds of stuff in it; but what is this cute little thing, oh, its a coin purse. You squeeze the sides and it pops open. I’ve never seen anything like it. How cool. Where did you get it?”
“Leather goods stores normally. I think this one actually came from a luggage store. I’ve had maybe five of them over the decades. It’s kind of a heritage thing for me. I recall being about 6 years old sitting on my grandpa’s lap and playing with his. It looked just like that one. He kept me quiet for a long time as I squeezed it open and let it close again, over and over, trying to figure out how the folds worked so smoothly every time. I was mesmerized and bought the first one I saw as a teenager and have had one every since. I get a new one every time one wears out.”
She put the coin purse back on the table and looks at me. “Well, I just learned a few things about you that I did not know. I caught your sense of family and heritage. I learned how OCD you are with clever problems and that you carry a portable toolbox in case you need one to fix something.
“I may steal this idea next time Marcos walks in. I can buy his coffee see if I can get him talking.”
“I’m going to rethink the idea to avoid women’s pockets.” I collect my stuff, repack my pockets then turn to sit down but Tamara stops me.
“Wait.” She smiles and reaches out. “Can I borrow the Leatherman?”
I pinch my eye brows together in silent question, ‘why?’
“I’ll bring it right back. I want to see if one fits in my purse.”