On a Saturday morning, the best place I could have come was this little cafe. I was originally supposed to be meeting a girl here, but things fell through approximately 30 minutes before the date. C’est la vie.
That’s been my luck of late. Oh, and when I say, “Of late,” I mean for the last year or so. I feel as though I’m sending off some ubiquitous signal to all the women of the world, and once this signal is processed, computed, tabulated and filtered through their minds, they come to the conclusion that I am completely undesirable. C’est la vie.
Alas, the life of a bachelor can be lonely, but it is not without its benefits.
Think of all the money I’m saving, not bound by the obligations of anniversary gifts or paying for someone else’s dinner. Think of the heartbreak I’m saving myself when the girl ultimately comes to the conclusion that I am entirely too eccentric to take home to her parents. Really, I’m coming out on top in this arrangement. Say it with me, “c’est la vie.”
That’s enough about my non-existent love life, let’s discuss this cafe in a little more detail.
It can best be described as a down-to-earth vignette of a bygone era. The walls around me play host to portraits of all of Delaware’s past serving Governors. One, in particular, placed purposefully behind a small light in the corner, is a silhouette. “Joseph Maull, 1846,” the inscription reads. I wonder why, of all the governors here, he is the sole soul who is displayed in shadow rather than light.
Ahead of me, I see a small, squat man donning a cheese cutter hat. He mixes a Jameson and Ginger Ale behind a simple oak bar. A bit early for a drink in my opinion, but to each their own. The bar itself is only just visible through an antechamber adorned with a simple chandelier. The bar doors are painted in bright crimson, a departure from the dark creme color which every other doorway seems to sport.
The employees, all of whom are dressed completely black, dart in and out of view like shadows dancing behind candlelight. It is strangely beautiful in its simplicity. The most beautiful visions can arise from the most unassuming things, like early morning dew on cobwebs, or a patch of oil spilled on parking lot pavement, reminiscent of a rainbow. I sat there for a moment, engrossed in this shadowy dance. I just wish there were someone with whom I could share this scene.
It is far too dreary of a day for dates or disappointment for that matter. I am thankful for this time, for this cafe, for the comically large coffee cup beside me and for a little inspiration. Most of all, I think I’m thankful for the shadows.
My mind drifts back to the Jameson and Ginger. I wonder who might be ordering such an innocuous drink at such a conspicuous hour, in such an inconceivable place. Never before in my experience, albeit limited, have I seen a fully stocked bar in a coffee shop. It seems to be a bit of a dissonance of purpose, offering both stimulant and depressant. Granted, as I can attest to quite well at this point, mixing intellectual stimulus with a tinge of depression can have an unforeseeable, albeit auspicious outcome.
Seeming so out of place, I recall that the bar is marked in kind, the entranceway of which is jovially decorated in that curious crimson shade. A departure from its drab surroundings, it offers a pleasing alternative, an escape. Perhaps that is another thing to add to the list of things for which I was thankful for this waterlogged weekend, escape.
I sit back in my chair, taking a long pull from the long cold coffee sitting beside me, wondering if my life were in need of its own red door. Of all the things I’ve encumbered myself with, all the projects left half-finished, the invitations accepted and disseminated, the additional duties undertaken, the bits and pieces of my soul given to those who truly don’t deserve it. I was in need escape. I needed a moment for myself. I needed, funnily enough, a rain check.
Pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose, I pondered this new angle of viewing a previously dreary day. I believe the requested rain check was the best thing that could have happened to me at this point. I honestly think that what I needed most was not a Dulcinea, but rather a drink.
Now, dear readers, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m seeking my red door through a bottle. Fret not, that is not at all the intention of the most recent, non-italicized line. Take a deep breath, and keep reading.
I stood up from my seat, pausing to twist out a few creaks and cracks from my back, which had spent the better part of two hours hunched over my laptop. The motion elicited a pleasing ripple of pops from my stressed vertebrae. I meandered away from my temporary workspace, stepping through one of the drab doorways into the main cafe. I allowed my eyes to linger on a particularly delicious-looking macaroon.
Its eggshell like sheen captured perfectly under the fluorescent lights installed about the counter. I shook my head, remembering one of the essential commitments I had made, the commitment to my wallet. The red door came to the forefront of my mind once again, and I came to my lack of senses. I ordered a fresh coffee, and one fateful, bright red macaroon.
As I returned to my seat, I felt overwhelmed with childlike glee. I took a bite of the macaroon and let the flavor of raspberry flood my mouth. I closed my eyes, making a conscious effort to avoid making my enjoyment too audible. This simple morsel served as a simpler gesture. I felt as though I was far too tightly encased in a shell of expectations to aim for the red door immediately. Instead, I took a simple, pleasurable, measurable and easily repeatable escape. Small though it was, its impact was noticeable immediately.
I realized for a moment, the burden of my worries were somehow lessened. I was no longer concerned about the fifteen briefings I had to deliver, the pieces of training I needed to complete, the emails to grind through, the projects to develop, the company to keep, the words to speak. No, in that moment nothing mattered — nothing more than the sweet tang of that raspberry macaroon.
In this moment, I’d like to address the shell that has ensnared me, the crushing weight of my responsibilities and general grievances. Do you think I could have a rain check?