Now I’m on the way to my favorite coffee house/sidewalk café in my neighborhood — not one of the big chain coffee houses! — because I have my usual afternoon date to scribble on paper napkins.
Yes, the cocoa is lovely, those Moroccan fellows make the best this side of Cazenave in Bayonne; and you can order it in English, French or Arabic. But it’s this inscribing on napkins that matters: a book has to be conceived somehow. Well, the regulars are at the next tables, maintaining their privacy and observing mine. It’s study hall, of course, with medical and dental schools not far off; I suppose I might learn some anatomy if I listened carefully. But the confessions of lovers are more interesting.
Then there’s the distinguished looking woman who works so assiduously on Greek. When she has fellow students of Plato at her side I call her group the Spanakopita Brigade.
Meanwhile, on the high street, everything is as yesterday or tomorrow: one’s likely to run into Fred the Mahler-loving bookseller with the marvelous muscles, macho Dino the Greek will be eyeing the girls outside his pizzeria, the pleasant beggar will be saying “Greetings!” in a bright C major. Now if Chester the terrier is outside Peet’s it’s time for tea!
I will cringe at the dental school security officer armed like a Task Force for an invasion by Buck Rogers and his Naughty Martians bent on stealing a drill or two, and I will pity the several madwomen of the neighborhood.
But I’ll rejoice in discussing the state of the world with Phil the mellow maestro of pots-pans-nuts-bolts as he waters the plants outside his hardware store, I’ll kibbitz with the jolly butcher from Puglia who sells me sausages and lamb and seems to have sprung from a 1935 musical and doesn’t mind my flamboyant fractured Italian; and I might run into an elegant friend with a zesty poodle who announces in quietly imperial tones, “I’m taking you to lunch”.
I will, in short, enjoy my Upper Fillmore.