By D.C. Weaver
Two people were sitting in a café. A man and a woman. It is tempting to say they were having coffee, but hardly any women drink coffee anymore. Even fewer are willing to meet you for it.
It’s the invitation—Would you like to have a cup of coffee with me?—it implies something that getting a beer does not. Coffee drinkers are serious people; they want to talk about serious things and brood. The stakes are higher with them. Women know this. A man who asks you to coffee may be secretly in love with you. He may have hopes that a romance will bud. Beer drinkers are watering a different plant.
You go to bed with a beer drinker and the worst that could happen is you wake up with a hangover, naked and alone, for beer drinkers are apt to sneak away while you’re still sleeping.
Coffee drinkers get out of bed frequently during the night, but it is usually just to go pee or to fix themselves another cup of coffee.
Look into a beer drinker’s shifty eyes. He wants to make you laugh. He’s trying to think of a good bar joke, while the dream-gazing coffee drinker seems to be always in the midst of concocting a love poem. He’ll write you one, and read it to you at your wedding. And later he’ll say it was fate that brought you together that day at Café La Rochelle, because he’s a coffee drinker and coffee drinkers generally believe in fate.
And so there they were—the man and the woman, a pair of porcelain cups between them, sharing a window booth at a nice little place on West Eighty-fifth Street. He had asked her to coffee, and she had said yes. Whatever their involvement had been prior to stepping inside, whatever terms had been set beforehand, the very fact of her presence was reassuring to the man: a sign that her feelings ran deeper than a pint glass.
Might she be curious about the next level of the relationship? What if she dreamt about him? What if he was present in that motorcade of ghosts that passes just before sleep? And what if she wasn’t so broken by the things behind her to not try again? Or was it presumptuous to think she had ever been broken? Had she ever even been chipped?
The man brooded while he sat there and sipped his coffee. Today he was not a beer drinker.
He looked up at the woman. She was looking at him, so he quickly averted his eyes to the window. He studied the architecture of a cargo van. It was double-parked in front of a bodega across the street, delivering cases of beer.
After a while, he looked back down at the tabletop. Then he noticed them: coffee rings. Circular biographies of a boy with no saucer. Of course, there were none on her side of the table. She was having tea.