Life lessons at Starbucks

It’s okay to let the terry-cloth

wind blow itself through your thinning hair.

When the leaves fly past

your brow in that dismissive way they leave

a glint of naiveté, a good benchmark of

personhood. Only then are you safe

from their burden of proof. It tells me you’re just passing

through these moments without

the careless disregard you hear in the stifling

words of the never-enoughs.

 

They bounce in like clumps of collagen sadness and

pose at the Starbucks long enough to trumpet

their middle-age gym accomplishments. They lust

after glances but disdain the stares as somehow

presumptuous. In their strategic peripherals, table

reflections, and body language, they burn up

the fuel of appreciation. They like

to look at everyone but speak to no one,

especially the ruse in front of them just

hoping to lock eyes even once.

 

One skin shed in favor of a second, otherwise known

as yoga pants, they reign supreme

while supplies last of crunches, collagen, and

the deceitful quagmire of wealth. Maybe

there still lay rumors of rootedness deeper

than the soles of their Nikes. If no one looks,

do they disappear? But these stolen sideways glances come

in the luster of indulgence cloaked

in the risk of diminishing returns. Gawks become stares,

then looks, then glances, then indifference,

soon to fade in the diminishment of

apathy. The well-fitted tools of acceptance

turn to mock an unpracticed self-respect.

 

He runs his own Internet business. We’ve heard him

talk about it through his phone from across

the room in his well-thought out random attire.

An overly helpful demeanor, especially as door-man for

elderly ladies, helps with the compassion capital needed

to seal the deal: successful, built, kind – what more

could one ask? His secrets perhaps. How his wife’s

breath always smells a bit like mint and gin.

 

The one on her own stages

a similar performance, from the adoring

glare of her iPhone. It buys us all

an invitation to look without penalty, the detached

appreciation she’s come to know as attention.

The bubblegum ennui fools no one. In this tiny

15 minute window, short bursts of indulgence, the silent

praise of others passes for friendship. Maybe release can

happen soon, but through the derailments of a life

forced to surface through pain. Then, instead of adoring stares,

she can see back into the blinded eyes of another,

and finally exhale.

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