coffee shop, Sunday morning

There’s the one guy next to the wall under the framed print of yoga positions. He’s got his laptop, a breakfast sandwich, and a caffeinated grin. A gold leafed bible lies closed on the table, a limp red bookmark sticking a tongue out from between the pages.

Yoga students walk through to the attached studio. Their virtue spills out of their contoured synthetic pants and gets focused by their rolled-up mats. They walk with posture and superiority as I lick the syrupy stickiness from the fingers that were recently shoving a pastry into my mouth.

And around the bend against the exposed brick is the woman with hair that’s red but not really red, kind of that brown-purple to match her glasses. The local independent paper is on the table, a paperback is in her hand. Her coffee comes in a paper cup, covered and readied to go. Fifteen minutes later she’s gone, leaving the paper behind on the table, but coffee in hand.

My earphones are plugged into ears on one end, the music player on the other, trying to block out the conversation behind and to the right of me about “I felt” and “you said” and “we” and all the things in between that they aren’t saying as they’re listening but not listening to one another. When I fold down the computer and refill my cup I recognize that guy and wonder where his wife is. And I wonder other things, but I’m sure I don’t know the full story. I plug my headphones back in.

So we judge each other from across the room, the world’s oldest hobby, outside of sex (which I suppose is its own form of judgement). I sip my coffee, black. I push the earphones tighter into my head to keep the other judgements outside, and put my head down into my grading, my other set of judgements yet to be made.

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