The Absinthe Drinker

The Absinthe Drinker
Victor Oliva, "The Absinthe Drinker"

Art of Smoothie

Girl couple in matching down vests and daypacks, laughing as they share their homework. Wordsworth’s use of simile. At the next table your voyeur author swallows giggles over how charming they are.

Blind with white cane, two finger gestures on iPad, face raised to the wall. BlueTooth with tech support: his mailboxes are misbehaving.

Friendly baristas make me custom smoothies. "Here: try this." Mango, peach, banana: bomb city.

Quiet Sunday on the grid.

Funhouse Cafe, Brisbane
Funhouse Cafe, Brisbane

Source: www.markphillips.com

Trainers

Jock-in-Boots: Latina, long brown hair, black jeans. On a meet with Jock-in-Trainers: shaved head, rolled up cuffs, brown cords. She's loquacious, laughing cheerfully about Christmas presents, injuries, workouts, what her friends do. He's skilled at drawing her out: laughing, saying "Yah", otherwise speaking as little as possible. He likes her. I do too.

College student in sweats, earbuds, eyes glued to her MacBook, toes-in-trainers tapping. Yawns and stretches big, thin little arms behind her back. Sits up straight, excellent posture, fingers blazing.

Johnny Strength Training in track pants and racing cap. Face to screen, but he repeatedly checks out the Jock-in-Boots Latina with fleeting little side flicks he thinks are discreet. He likes her too.

Tea-Pop Cafe, Camanava, Philippines
Tea-Pop Cafe, Camanava, Philippines

Source: www.markphillips.com

Chuck Berry

Bad Uncle Chuck overhead: Long distance information give me Memphis Tennessee.... Sadness that such brilliance fades in transience: young people for three generations ignorant, as previous generations were ignorant of Cab and the Duke and Robert Johnson. What memory remains kept alive by old white men, and Jack White, and the ambient music guardians at Starbucks.

Six MacBooks, two iPads, one heavy oldschool Toshiba laptop, iPhones all around. Apple owns the cafe crowds.

CAUTION, CUIDADO, ATTENTION: baby on her butt slides her white pullover across slippery wet stone floor, laughing.

William H. Johnson, "Cafe" (1939-40)
William H. Johnson, Café (1939-40)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Hands in Pockets

Mister Shaved 'Cos Bald paces, hands in pockets, reading and re-reading and reading again the menu, as he's brought nothing else to do, and his order is complicated.

Redneck Joe the Trucker, loose baggy jeans, Peterbuilt cap with shades balanced on the brim. Long goatee, hands in pockets, pacing circles nearby Mister Shaved 'Cos Bald, now a mutual dance of avoidance, two men with hands in pockets.

Tubby woman in down vest, messenger bag, hands in pockets. Gray-haired dad with reading glasses, hands in pockets. Straight henna hair parted in the middle, keys on one wrist, hands in pockets. Sunday Afternoon at the Hands in Pockets Convention.

Pop Art Cafe
Pop Art Cafe

Source: www.markphillips.com

Flirty

Purple denims, tight; black lace-up bootlets, rhinestones. Waist-length straight chestnut hair, light-up smile. Seated with her pink vibrant girlfriend, huddled, drawing lines in a spiralbound paper calendar.

Flirty teen spies my secret glances. I'm being writerly in observation, but reasonably enough she interprets me as a letching voyeur perv. With laughing eyes she licks her straw sensuously, slowly as she can force herself, resisting the obvious urge to fall down laughing. Fair enough. I accept my punishment as well-deserved from some earlier occasion.

Ematiated blonde with tattoo'd hands, hair in knit cap, tweaking. Gray hoodie with Angela Davis: "Listen to the people." Adding heavy caffeine to her already buzz. Head high, ignores me pointedly as she exits doublespeed, while flirty teen throws secret-not-secret glances, laughing.

William H. Johnson, "Cafe" (1939-40)
William H. Johnson, Café (1939-40)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Sunday

On Sunday there are no young people. These are all gray: retirees, sensible shoes, well-bundled against cold and the world.

No-one speaks. They're sharing tables but they study their phones, or stare into nowhere.

Sleepy ambience from ceiling speakers. Sleepy sunbeams break through sleepy rainclouds. The world and its people long for rest.

Patrick Caulfield, "Cafe" Sign (1968)
Patrick Caulfield, Café Sign (1968)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Death by Thinkpad

Tall beauty, thin, back-length black hair straight in the traditional style. Too cool for coffee. Orders a strawberry smoothie, declines to drink it onsite, keys jingling around one thin wrist on her way to the door.

Silver glitter phone case, rings, bangs, perfect teeth. Texts with both thumbs, behind the table fort she's made of her little pink purse.

Pudgy Mister Thinkpad takes charge of his corner, moving chairs, sliding side tables, positioning ottomen to his liking, ending in a bent-over posture with his computer practically on the ground. To each his own.

William H. Johnson, "Cafe" (1939-40)
William H. Johnson, Café (1939-40)

Source: www.markphillips.com