I have a joke that the only friends I have I met at Starbucks. That’s not REALLY true, but almost. A very cherished one was a woman I met when she asked to sit at my two-person table because the small café was crowded. Of course, I replied, as I continued working on my computer. She had recently moved from New York – and looked just like Meg Ryan. How could I say no to Meg? After that, we would always acknowledge one another in line and the rest was history. Our friendship lasted over two years until she moved out of state. She was quirky in a great way and I have a crazy sense of humor – a perfect match. Louie once told me that I “have the most interesting friends.”
Another Starbucks acquaintance is a man, although we never became BFFs. In fact, we hardly ever spoke except for the courteous “hello” we all tend to say to regulars we see at the coffee shop. He had a mostly shaven head, was rugged-looking and well-built. His tanned skin made his bright blue eyes stand out. He usually wore a tank top and shorts. Eventually, we had a chance conversation at the condiment stand as we fixed our coffees. “Beautiful weather,” “Dropping off my sons at school,” etc. Ah, a good guy doing fatherly duties.
Then I’d see him around town walking or at the liquor store. He would throw a nice friendly smile and wave hello. I still see him, but after all these years, I don’t even know his name (or I don’t remember).
This morning I saw “him” at the local gas station as I was about to leave. He saw me, smiled, and waved. I rolled down the window to greet him. Always a gracious man. I asked how he was doing. “I’m tired of all this…people telling us what to do.” What are you talking about, I asked. Let’s just say his beautiful smile and pretty eyes contorted into a shade of ugly anger. I was surprised to see who I saw as a lovely, gentle person transform. He carried on non-stop as he stepped closer to my car window. I wasn’t afraid of physical harm, but rather Covid-19. I interrupted his rant. Wow -- look how angry you are, I told him disappointedly. “…And no offense, but would you not stand so close…,” as I threw on my mask. He kindly respected my request. Then I told him that it wasn’t necessary to continue the political discussion, and he said he had to leave any way, he was late heading out to hike the trails. Before rolling away, I told him I appreciated the discussion. Then as I passed him on the street, I glanced over wondering if he might throw me the finger. Instead, he threw his beautiful smile and waved.