The culture of the cafe

I am finding that there’s a sub-culture that exists within coffee shops. There are those who rush in and grab a cup of coffee, and still others who stop by for sweets for work. Now the lunchtime crowd is starting to come in.

Amidst all of these people who scurry and scatter about are those like myself, who grab a roll and a cup of coffee, which we’ll nurse for the next hour or two, as we sit and read our papers or books; or like the newer generation of cafe society, open our computers and type away. But not all the time, because to not look up from time to time is to miss the magic of the moment.

We tend to congregate in one area of the cafe, and we chat quietly from time to time when one of us happens to catch the eyes of another. I’ve already shown my computer to a retired gentleman who is thinking of buying one to keep up with his grandkids. I expect to see him with an iBook one day.

Another gentleman sits and does crosswords, while a lady about my age, a former mainframe programmer, studies books on new technologies a couple of tables away. Across from me is a Nun having lunch with her friend, and every time I catch her eye, she smiles at me as if we’re sharing some kind of secret. Rather than be intrusive, it adds to the feeling that sitting here has somehow pulled us out of time and place, and given us a new space in which to explore — books, crosswords, something online, each other.

Years ago, philosophers and artists and writers and others mad with creativity and drunk on wine and discovery, would sit in cafes for hours and hours and from these times would come the works that astound us even now. Somehow, somewhere, we’ve lost this society, with our phones and our televisions and our computers, and we are both less and more because of it: less because of the loss of the mystic; more because we’re coming to understand that the mystic relies less on place than on person.

I doubt that I will pull a masterpiece from my time here, in this tiny shadow of society, but I’m sure that I’ll find both contentment and inspiration. And a good cup of coffee–not to be taken lightly, you understand.

I’ll probably leave soon; making room at my table, which I’ve occupied for two hours. It’s tough, though. to leave the smell of the baked goods and homemade soups, and to give up my seat by the window overlooking the outdoor seating. The weather is nice and a foursome with a dog and a small child is sitting outside. The child just came up to the window, all curly brown hair and toothy smile, patted at the glass and gave me a grin.

However, too much of anything and the magic begins to fade and wonderous become ordinary. Besides, it’s nice out and a walk sounds good.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email