33 The cafe habit

The Plip Plop Coffe Shop in San Anselmo was a community center as habit-forming as any church or yoga class or youth soccer contest. And there were communities within the community that met there frequently or no, and smaller groups within those. It was large for a cafe, with ample elbow room. Knee room, too, for the oafish splay-legged bicyclists who came to let their pulses abate while not discouraging inferences of fellatio for heroes.
The Patron of the Arts found the Coffe Shop to her liking, now that she was at an age when she always assessed the light wherever she went. Inside the Plip Plop, one could see one’s interlocutors clearly but not microscopically. She’d resisted Botox so far by using places with soft but not dim light for daytime tete-a-tetes, and the Plip Plop was perfect.
She stated, to her court of want-to-be authors (or so she thought – one of this now-and-then entourage was a Pulitzer Prize winner, a journalist who never mentioned it): “Mark Twain, perhaps it was, said only fools would write for any reason except to earn money . . .” She paused, because this approximated a quote she’d heard sometime before; in college, in fact, Wellesley, more precisely, exactly a quarter of a century ago. But she wasn’t sure it was Mark Twain. Yet she’d made a point, though not intractably, because it was her wont to initiate discussion, which she would gently guide.
Rico Suavay, of Ross, who sometimes dropped into this roundtable, demurred: “Pourtant – Oof! that soignee little boy over there just dropped another bicyclist with his flyswatter – Twain’s, perhaps Samuel Johnson’s sentiment as well, statement is a categorical imperative, which really is show biz, or if completely sincere, grandiosity. But what’s grandiosity but show biz without the thread of irony? The truer assessment, of course, is relative. One may find writing quite pleasurable, and just write for that, and perhaps for the icing on that cake, of edification. Or for a few friends to show that one is doing SOMETHING, not just subsisting. A sign of outward respect. Or for the succes d’estime. In any case, the will to write needn’t be monochromatic, to be valued. Au moins, par moi.”
“Oh, you homme about Marin, you,” tittered one of them.
He had a meeting in San Francisco. He excused himself, with a contemporary but elegant bow to the Patron of the Arts, whom he did value for prompting these often charming little groups.
The Patron thought the “Enchante” was acceptable, but she didn’t know how to feel about “Madame.” She glanced at the lights hidden above a row of half-decent oil paintings.


One Response to “33 The cafe habit”

  1. Peter Smith Says:

    Another bull’s eye!

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