Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wanna Mate? Yes Please.

At the request of a friend, I decided to check out Phoenix Coffee on Lee Rd in Cleveland Heights.  Having taken a two week hiatus from my blog, I wanted to make sure visited a happening spot this week.  Upon entering I'm immediately struck by how large this coffee house is, and really despite the size, how quaint and charming it feels.  I was immediately welcomed by two very friendly baristas.  The more I do this, the more I realize just how important the personalities of the baristas really are.  They don’t just make coffee, but they set the tone for your entire coffee shop experience.  These two particular baristas seem to know just about everybody, and welcome them by name as they enter.  How delightful.

Something on the menu catches my eye and I decide to ask about it.  “How’s the Almond Mate Latte?” I ask.  I should note here that "mate" rhymes with "latte."  The barista says  “Well, mate is very herbie and veggie tasting.”  Sounds disgusting.  “Have you ever seen Interview with a Vampire?” he asks, “yesss…..” I say timidly.  He responds, “You know the part in the movie where Brad Pitt's outside and he thinks the trees are out to get him?  It will make you feel like that.  It's kind of a body-high."  Hmmm… while intrigued, I choose to pass and I order my usual.  He does offer to give me a mate sample however, so I decide to take my chances and try it.  Once I sip it, I’m pleasantly surprised, not disgusting at all really.  Herbie?  Yes.  Veggie ?  Kinda.  Tingly?  Yes, actually it is rather tingly.  I immediately regret my decision to play it safe and vow to be more adventurous next time.  Next week perhaps I'll order a mate while looking for a mate.

“One expertly prepared, exquisitely handcrafted non-fat caramel latte,” he announces.  I thank him and look around to find a seat.  There are more people here than I thought, but then again, it is a Saturday and I’m used to latte-ing on Sundays… I note this for next week and I find a cozy, comfy chair by the window.  This place has a really good vibe.  I love the paint colors; predominantly olive green, navy blue, and mustard yellow jump out at me.  There’s a non-working fireplace that adds to the quaintness, and a bookshelf with what appears to be an eclectic array of outdated magazines.  And is that a bucket of sidewalk chalk I see?  If I wasn’t by myself and people wouldn’t look at me funny I would be all over that outside.  The music is good – alternative instrumental… very mellow and I dig it.  There are prints by local artists on the walls (all for sale of course), framed newspaper clippings of noteworthy happenings at the Phoenix, and an open mic poster with a few familiar faces.

There’s a good mix of people here.  I see a dude working on a mac book (there are lots of laptops/netbooks/ipads here actually) and he has amazing hair.  Very dark and messy.  I wonder if he spent too much time and used lots of product to make it look so carefree, or if he really is just one of those dudes who naturally just looks great.  I decide that he looks that good with minimal effort... because that's more attractive than the alternative.   Dark, curly, messy hair, beautiful olive skin, blue eyes, and the right amount of scruffy stubble.  Damn… sexy.  I choose to sit by him, naturally, though he appears to be deep in thought studying.  That's ok, I can still stare from here.  Where I’m sitting I can see his computer screen - it’s nearly completely destroyed.  Black spots and lines that spider-web across the screen in every direction.  How he can see what he’s doing I have no idea.  I contemplate asking him about the catastrophe that must have caused such destruction, but decide it would only distract him from his studying.  I don't want to be rude (and he's completely out of my league so I let it go).

There are two girls sitting at a table not far away.  They are not talking.  They're both on laptops and one has on an incredibly oversized pair of earmuff-like earphones reminiscent of those my Dad used to sport in the 80's (though hers are blue and my Dad's were gray).  This same girl is wearing a black fishnet dress, purple stockings, white socks and black platform boots that look impossible to walk in.  She's jamming and mouthing lyrics to herself.  Apparently I'm the only one who sees this, or I'm the only one who finds this the slightest bit off.  Not even her friend says anything to her... now that's a good friend.  After some time, the girls get up to leave and sure enough, miss 80's glam rocker nearly trips over her oversized boots.  Ok, I get the whole alternative fashion vibe.  However, when you cannot walk in your foot wear, it was a bad decision.

On the other side of the cafe is another girl on a laptop.  She appears a little anxious and is profusely biting her nails.  Eww.  How incredibly unhygienic.  I understand this habit, as I also used to bite my nails, but then again I was eight.  My Mom begged me to stop, but nothing worked.  That is until she offered me ten bucks to give it up for good and I never bit my nails again.  Go figure.  I wonder if I offer her ten bucks if she'd stop.  When you're an adult, it's kinda a gross habit.  I choose to keep my ten bucks and my opinions to myself.

Over by the faux fireplace I see a man taking a nap.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  I could never nap in public.  While I've never really tried, I just don't think I could.  I'd rather be cozy in my yoga pants and ratty t-shirt snuggled on my couch with a soft blanket and Chloe (my dog) than in a chair in a coffee shop.  But to each their own.  He looks content and relaxed.  I'm becoming more content as well while sitting here.  Perhaps it's the mate, or perhaps it's my new quest to make my life as easy as possible.  You see, I tend to complicate things for myself.  My whole life I've done this.  And at this point, I just don't want to do it to myself anymore.  So, I choose simplicity from here on out. 

There are two women conversing over their own lattes at a table just outside earshot.  While I can't hear what they're saying, I can tell that it is an extremely one-sided conversation.  The keynote speaker of this conversation is a woman approximately in her mid thirties.  She has braces.  I'm a devout believer that nice teeth get you places, so I'm definitely in favor of taking action when things are not in line.  However, I'm eternally grateful to my parents for investing in my oral hygiene early so I wouldn't have to have braces later in life.  From fluoride treatments to braces and retainers, thank you parents for making this choice on my behalf!  But I digress... this woman has talked the whole time I’ve been here and really hasn't come up for air, nor allowed her friend to get a word in edgewise.  I love to talk, but I certainly hope I don't come off this way.  Note to self: shut up.

Enjoying my latte, I'm happy to see my friend Meg who has decided to join me for a bit.  It's a chill kind of day and she's a great person to chill with.  In this moment, I am content.. but not just this moment.  Now.  Here.  Right now in my life.  I'm happy.  And it's been a long time since I've been able to say that.  Could this be the mate talking?  Is the mate a miracle drug that cures more than a male mate ever could?  I decide to buy a case on the way out.

Meg and I see an adorable beagle who has accompanied his owner into the Phoenix.  What a happy little dog!  He visits with a few patrons as he smiles, wags his tail, and rolls around on the floor.  Joy.  This is the only word that comes to mind.  Simple joy.  Meg finishes her yummy-looking sandwich and it's time to pack up.  With this thought and a sunny day ahead, I go home to joyfully roll in the grass with Chloe... without a mate, and surprisingly very happy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So Close

Today I headed west to Lakewood (again), but this time to the Beck Cafe.  This particular coffee shop has been recommended to me several times, and while I was just in Lakewood last week, I was happy to come this direction again.  I really wasn't sure where I was taking my talents this week, so when I saw on facebook that my acquaintance Jim Snively was scheduled to play at the Beck Cafe this afternoon, I figured why not (and Jim mentioned that the barista, Troy makes the best lattes... I can only hope Troy is attractive as well).
I walk in during Jim's sound check.  The atmosphere is incredibly quaint and inviting.  There's beautiful artwork from local artists (all for sale), and a lovely-sounding water feature on the wall  (I think there's also some kind of water feature on the floor, but I didn't take too much time to look into it).  Troy is cute; tall and fair-skinned, with a nice smile and outgoing demeanor.  He's also probably only twenty five, however.  I order my usual (for the boys and girls following along at home, that would be a non-fat caramel latte).  Sadly, Troy informs me that they only have 2% or soy.  Soy creeps me out, so I obviously choose 2%.  While making my drink, he starts fumbling down the leg of his jeans and I say, "What's going on down there?" Troy laughs and says that there's apparently a hole in the inside of his pocket and his phone has begun sliding down his leg.  Sure there is.  I then hear from the stage area "Hi Sarah!" and it's Jim, completing his sound check and getting ready to rock.  He then says "New hairstyle?"  I laugh because I've only met Jim once and I can't believe he's noticed the difference.  "Looks nice," he says.  I thank him for noticing.
Jim is joined today by a fellow artist, "Doc Z" on the violin. The first song they perform is called "Drinking My Coffee Alone.”  It is excellent and could easily become the theme song for this blog.
Patrons are coming in and out ordering coffee and hitting the road.  I wish more people were here to appreciate our local talent like Jim and Doc.  Jim’s music details his experiences and events that happened in our nation throughout his life (and earlier).  I learned through his songs that he was in the National Guard during the Kent State shootings... “Oh how we’ve changed from before… forever more.”  Thanks Jim and Doc, for helping me remember just how well music can capture the essence of storytelling like no other medium.
Doc is amazing on the violin.  He plays and I get lost.  It almost brings tears to my eyes.  There are times you'd swear you’re hearing two or three violins playing in unison.  Awe-mazing.
While taking a break, Jim and Doc sit with me for a bit to chat.  I hear Doc also strike up a conversation with a gentlemen sitting at the table behind me.  I'm usually far more observant than this - I didn't know there was a guy sitting behind me!  Doc asks what he's studying, and I hear him respond that he's obtaining an advanced degree in microbiology.  Clearly he's smart and now I wonder what he looks like.  I glance behind me... yup... cute with a nice smile!  Jim and Doc decide to end their break and head up towards the stage area.  I figure 'screw it.'  I turn around and say, "Microbiology huh?  Sounds like fun."  He smiles (nice teeth) and says, "Yeah, it is.  What are you working on?" and nods toward my netbook.  I tell him that since I took off work on Friday, I'm checking my email so I can minimize any potential shit storm I might walk into tomorrow morning.  He laughs and says, "I see (smile).  I'm Norm, by the way," and extends his hand.  (Oh... my... gawd... IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?).  I'm smiling and I'm interested.  "I'm Sarah," I say.  "Nice to meet you."  "You too," he replies.  I tell him I'll let him get back to studying and turn back around.  This might not have been the right move, however.  But I'm cought off guard here, so in my defense, I really wasn't sure what to say next.
I continue watching Jim and Doc and notice a young guy walk slowly past the window yawning.  However this is the longest yawn I've ever witnessed.  He's still walking with his mouth excessively WIDE open.  Perhaps this isn't a yawn after all.  Perhaps he has a horrible TMJ condition.  Just in case he does, I stop looking.  I'm not completely heartless.  But I am concerned he's going to swallow some bugs out there.
Jim and Doc eventually wrap up their set.  Doc comes over to shake my hand and says he hopes to see me again (me too Doc - you're awesome).  Then I walk up to Jim to tell him he played a great set today.  He thanks me for coming and gives me a wonderful compliment (thanks Jim - you're sweet).  I gather my things to leave, hoping Norm will engage me further in conversation so I don't walk out the door and out of his life forever.  I look at him, smile my best smile, and say "Nice meeting you Norm.  Have a good day."  "You too," he replies with an equally nice smile.  I can't linger here so I begin to leave.  WTF?  That's it?  Damnit... so close.  Oh well... it was a fun, albeit short, ego boost.  So, I'll take it.  I thank Troy on my way out and head home.
I think for my next post I'll either stay East or head South... though I'm sure the entertainment won't be nearly as good.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Hath Sprung

It is the most amazing day in Cleveland of 2011 thus far (about 80 degrees, sunny and just all-around beautiful).  The drive to the Lakewood Caribou on Detroit was very nice, except for the fishy smell wafting off Lake Erie (eew) that signifies spring is here!  While this smell is temporary, it lingers until about mid May.
I smile while driving the familiar streets of Lakewood.  Having lived not too far away in West Park for a short while, I drive past my old stomping grounds (i.e. bars, taverns, Johnny Malloy's).  I think most young adults (Do I even still qualify as part of that group?  Gawd, I hope so!) in Cleveland live in this area for some period of time after college… it’s like a rite of passage.  It's an active community.  There are people walking dogs, walking kids, going for a run... and when you’ve had a winter like we had here in Cleveland, you long for these beautiful days to finally come around.
This caribou has a good vibe.  It’s cozy, the baristas are friendly and the drinks are usually very good.  Today was no exception -  my non-fat turtle mocha was fab.  I take my seat at a rather wobbly table and look forward to some relaxing time with myself.  I recognize the music to be Mat Kearney… very mellow.
In the comfy chairs by the fireplace (which is obviously not lit on a warm day like today) two men are reading.  One is reading a textbook.  I can’t tell the subject from where I’m sitting, but all I see are lots of words... boring!  The other, who looks kind of like a grizzly bear, is reading the business section of The Plain Dealer.  Upon further inspection, I realize that he’s reading it out loud.  He’s also wearing a black winter stocking cap – which troubles me on a gorgeous day like today.  Clearly he's not all there.  And apparently, I stared too long because he looks directly at me... woopsies!
There are three guys approximately in their late twenties sitting not far from me.  They glanced at me as I sat down, but I don't find them attractive so I don't bother to glance in return.  They're also apparently pretty restless, as they moved throughout the Caribou during my stay.  When I first sat down they were two tables away.  Then they got up and sat outside on the patio for a bit, now they’re back inside at their original table… aaaaand they’ve just moved to the other side of the shop.  Weird.  Pick a damn seat already… who are you the three bears?  This seat’s too hard, this seat’s too sunny, this one’s just right… oh wait, it’s not.  And they move again.  Now they're at their fifth table in the amount of time I’ve been here.
I see a table of four people, one girl and three guys.  One of the guys is very talkative.  In fact, he's the only one talking for quite sometime.  He appears very into himself.  When I tune everything out and concentrate on their conversation (yes, I know I'm a habitual eavesdropper), I realize this guy's is in fact a wedding DJ.  The young guy with him appears to be his assistant or a DJ in training, and they're talking with a engaged couple.  The DJ looks like he tried so very hard to look trendy for this meeting.  He's wearing a white newsboy cap (which, whenever I see one I think of Oliver.  "Please sir, can I have some more?") and a gold blazer (perhaps he works for Century 21 Realty on the side).  He’s talking about the best songs for certain pieces of the reception… and he’s talking way too much in my opinion.  Based on what he's suggesting (a lot of Black Eyed Peas, Usher, and Bruno Mars), I think about how horrible the music is going to be at their wedding.  I’ve been here for about 30 minutes and he's just now asked them what kind of music THEY like.  I can foresee this catastrophe of a reception.  This guy’s going to be the center of attention with campy jokes and inappropriate interjections during dinner.  Sigh… that poor couple.  I hope they didn't sign a contract.
On the opposite side of the shop are two men playing cards.  There’s a few generations between them and this makes me smile.  It's a charming sight, really.  I usually hate playing cards, but I find myself wanting to join them as they are genuinely enjoying each other’s company - smiling, laughing and carrying on.
I look outside on this lovely day and see a hairy man crossing the street who looks like a wookiee in an orange t-shirt.  He crosses the street a few times and I wonder where he's going - I hope he's not craving Caribou coffee because he kind of freaks me out.  I expect to see a trash can that resembles r2d2 follow him down the street.  Luckily he keeps walking and I don't see him again.  Spring hath sprung dude, it's time to shed the fur.
Hello - hottie spotted at 2:00 outside on the patio!  Tall, handsome, nicely put together and the perfect shades.  He walks out of view and I somewhat croon my neck to see where he went.  A bright ray of sun light shines down and I see mecca.  A table of good-looking 30 something men!  It’s like I’ve stumble upon the weekly council meeting of eligible bachelors, where I imagine they discuss such topics like where to meet women, how to not come across as a douche bag when approaching women, and how to fulfill all of our womanly desires.  If only there was such a council, the world (at least our world as women) would be a much happier place.  Before I can think about how to spark some attention from this group, the council meeting adjourns and the men start to part ways.  Damn… I have to be quicker on my feet.
I notice that many of the young women coming and going in the Caribou have sassy hair.  I remember the days of being young, rolling out of bed after a night of drinking and still looking fab.  When does the cruel reality hit us as we get older?... when you no longer even think about leaving the house without showering and applying mascara, lip gloss, and a retinol treatment.   These young Lakewood women are like spring – fresh and lively.  Bitches.
While I’ve somewhat struck out yet again this week in the guy department, I realize this little experiment isn’t just about attractive guys in coffee shops.  I’m beginning to feel like I'm archiving the happenings of our modern cultural centers.  Someday, my blog will be discovered by historians as data floating around in space... and they will use it to study the social habits of our time (ok, so that's a bit much).  Simply, I'm a people-watcher, and this blog is a great outlet. 
Looking outside at the beautiful day, I wonder why I'm spending all this time indoors.  I see two runners run past the window, and I long to be with them.  Time to hit the road so I can hit the pavement.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hey There Little Lady

Out of sheer laziness I headed out to the Arabica in downtown Willoughby today.  It’s been a long week partaking in evening activities (most of which included cocktails, spirits or beer) and I had no desire to venture any further.  However, I enjoy downtown Willoughby – it’s cute and quaint.  I haven't hung out at the Arabica for some time so I'm not sure what to expect.
I first glance in the window before I enter.  I’m not sure why, it’s not like I’m going to get back in my car and go somewhere else if I don’t like what I see.  To the right of the door there’s an older woman sitting by herself drinking her coffee.  She is wearing a black barrett and a scarf that's a replica of piano keys.  It's not cold outside today and it would never be cold enough for me to ever wear a scarf like that.  However, she appears to be enjoying her Sunday morning to herself much like I hope to.  I imagine that back in her day this would have been just the place she would have come to listen to poetry and click her fingers in approval.  Yeah man.
I love that when you're inside of this Arabica you can see the back of the old “Willoughby Hardware” sign embedded in the glass block above the door.  Pictures of historic Willoughby and Willoughby Hardware grace the walls of this charming hang out.  They are playing Coldplay when I enter and I immediately feel at home and relaxed.
I approach the counter and take note of a little girl chatting it up with the barista.  She can't see over the counter and he leans as far over as possible so he can hear her.  She looks to be about 5 years old and as I move closer I find myself being jealous of her outgoing nature.  She’s carrying on a conversation with the cute barista asking him what pastry he recommends and which is his favorite… damn… wish I had thought that (note to self for next week).  I smile at this adorable exchange and look around for anyone that appears to be her parent.  I see no one.  This is unfortunate, as I would like to ask if they would mind renting her out to be my new wingwoman.  She pays for her pastry with cash, and after collecting her change and cupcake the little lady walks out of the Arabica... alone.  I suppress my urge to run to the window to see if she gets into a pink Power Wheels Jeep that I'm certain is parallel parked out front.   
The bartista is attractive in a laid back "I look like I work in a coffee shop" kind of way.  He’s got spiky hair, glasses and has the the sexy scruffy thing working very well for him.  However, he also has a lisp… though slight, it’s there.  I always wonder when I hear someone with a lisp if their parents just couldn’t get them into a speech therapist.  Do they look back and wonder if they’ve done their child a huge disservice in life… because they should, and they have.  I order a small non-fat café mocha (trying to do a better job of working on my girlish figure, you know).  The cute lispy barista takes my order and I gaze into the pastry display case as I wait - longing for what I know I can't have.
The chick barista takes the order of the group of girls in line behind me and I'm taken aback, as she has the same speech impediment as the hottie barista.  Are they related or is it just incredibly coincidental?
I take my café mocha (which ended up not being great) and bottle of Nirvana water and find a seat.  There’s one desirable looking dude in the joint.  Of course, I choose to sit at the table right in front of him.  The moment I sit down I realize this was a mistake.  Now my back is to him and the only way I can catch a glance is to completely turn my body around.  Which is then not a glance, but an all out stare.  Oh well.
There’s a younger guy and girl sitting at the table across from me.  She is working on a laptop and he is reading textbooks.  They are nearly silent as they study.  Back in college I use to have to study by myself in silence.  I could never concentrate and was easily distracted by others if I tried to study in groups.  At one point, I received the nickname “Queen of Diversion” because though I would have every intention of studying, I would do everything but that when I was with friends.  I wonder if they're a couple... a boring couple, it appears.
New music has come on and I like it.  I'm not sure who it is, but it’s a chick with some angry tenderness in her voice.  She has clearly been wronged and while she would love to get back at him you can tell she’s really very hurt.  I think about how true that is.  No matter how “well” a relationship ends, no matter how neutral it seems to be when both parties walk away, no matter how adult you want to be about the situation, there’s always sadness that turns to anger... and deep down, you hope the other person is still alone just out of spite.  I dig this chick.  She speaks to me.
I look up from my mocha and notice a guy walking in.  He's a little thin for me.  I like a little more meat than this.  But, he smiles at me as he walks up to the counter to place his order with the lispy twins.  He gets his mocha, and goes to sit down… with another man… and they hold hands across the table.  Ok, so I totally misjudged that one.  I bet that little girl would have known they were together as soon as he walked in.  She would have told me this in advance before I even bothered to return the smile.
Unfortunately there's not much going on and the scene’s thinning out - much like the hair of the guy who just came in.  I figure it's time to go.  I pack up and head towards the door.  Sitting to the right is an attractive man I couldn't see from where I was sitting.  He's probably in his late thirties/early forties.  He's working on a laptop and watches me approach the door.  I feel his stare so I glance his way.  He smiles and gives a little wave.  I smile and give a subtle low wave in return.  I hadn't planned on this.  Now what?  He's sitting and I'm the one in motion.  Do I go over and say hello?  All this time I've been hoping the be the receiver of the "hello" and the walk-over, not the initiator, so I leave.  *sigh.*  As I wait for the signal to cross the street I look back... and he's still staring.  Well now what?  I can't go back in there!  Maybe like a scene out of a chick flick he'll run out of the coffee shop to ask if he can buy me another mocha.  This is quickly becoming the longest, most awkward wait for the "walk" signal ever.  I'm finally able to cross the street and I strut as cute as I possibly can.  I get in my car and look towards the Arabica.  Still there... still staring.  I drive away and head home.  I should have taken a clue from the outgoing little girl and chatted it up.  What if...
I've spent enough time on this side of town over the past few weeks.  I think next week I'll head west and hope for a more lively adventure.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Buzz Kill

For today's post I headed to a Starbucks in Cleveland Heights (on the corner of Mayfield and Lee to be exact).  On my way there, I drove past two local businesses of note: a veterinary hospital called "Just Cats" (how incredibly limiting), and "Bangs Salon" (I wonder if they suffered a severe revenue loss during the years when bangs were unfashionable...  Apparently they survived.).

I feed the parking meter and enter what appears to be a "dead" Starbucks. My barista (who's cute in a goofy class clown kind of way) takes my order in what he calls his "Kermit the Frog voice."  Surprisingly, it's an uncanny impression - good enough to make me laugh.  I should mention that laughing is my favorite activity, hands down.  If a man can make me laugh with his wit and a creative use of the English language he's well on his way to making me fall for him.

I cozy up to a table by the door.  This is a great spot, as I have a direct line of sight should any good-looking, witty men enter the Starbucks.  I chose this spot not only for this reason, but because there is a gentleman sitting right behind me who could have potential.  He's chosen the most comfy chair in the joint - the big cushy kind that even looks inviting.  However, he's also sitting facing the wall so I have no idea what his face looks like.  The back of his head is nice and makes me wonder if the front is as attractive.  I hope he will either turn around or leave so I can make an accurate assessment (and steal his chair).  On a side note, the music is a little funky.  It's nothing that I recognize and I don't think I particularly care for it.

I determine that most of the traffic in this Starbucks is the on-the-go crowd.  Very few people linger.  They seem to grab their coffees/lattes/baked goodies and go.  It's ok.  Perhaps a witty hottie will stop in to grab and go.  I observe people from all walks of life coming and going in this Starbucks, and I realize that Starbucks has quickly become quite the cultural center of our neighborhoods.  I love this.  Two older men come in together chatting about the events of the moment.  They say hello to me - probably because I'm sitting by the door.  What, am I the "Starbucks Greeter?"  They must be regulars as the baristas seem to know them.  Then, the funniest thing happens.  They each take a newspaper and sit on opposite sides of the Starbucks... like they don't even know each other.  I'm perplexed.

A young lady clearly on her way to the gym enters and I'm a little thrown by her.  This is not the granola chick I expected.  She is carrying a lovely Coach bag, wearing running shoes and running pants (the kind you know are running pants because they're like a second-skin).  All well and good, but sadly, she has caked her face with make-up that makes her look as if she's not going to the gym but rather West 6th instead.  She's also spent far too much time creating the world's most perfect ponytail.  This is why I don't go to the gym and prefer to run outside.  I refuse to doll myself up to work out.  It's just not right.  She's probably not even a runner, but thought the gear was"super cute" and spent way too much money to impress the meat heads at Urban Active.  However, she still looks cute... bitch.  Another woman walks in to grab and go.  She is wearing an orange Harley Davidson jacket, navy blue and red velour pants and a black winter hat with a fuzzy ball on top.  I am suddenly uplifted.  My life could be much worse.  I could be wearing that.

In the meantime, at a table just on the fringes of earshot, there are two ladies engaged in a conversation.  I struggle to eavesdrop over the funky music and only hear a few pieces of their conversation.  Those words/phrases include: "Therapist," "She says I'm smart," "Diaphragm," "Sex," and "Strangle."  Oh boy.  My mind wanders and now I want to hear more of their conversation.  I start to giggle to myself, which turns into a literal LOL.  I quickly stifle my laughter - which if you know me at all, you know is incredibly difficult.

Oh, by the way, I've given up hope of ever seeing the face of the man behind me.  He hasn't turned around nor gotten up to leave.  He's either completely engrossed in what he's doing, or he's dead.  But now I don't care.  An attractive man in his late 40's walks in the door.  He smiles at me.  I'm intrigued.  He's a little "mature" for my taste but whatever, I can work with this for now.  I smile back.  He orders his coffee and smiles again.  He "fixes" his coffee and smiles yet again.  I casually smile back.  He walks towards the door (which is conveniently where I'm sitting) says "have a nice day" and leaves.  Damn.  Well, there's my ego boost for the day... or so I thought.

Like a ray of light in the darkness, I see a breath of fresh air walking through the parking lot and he enters the Starbucks.  Because I’m directly in his line of sight, we make eye contact and he smiles.  He is dressed very appropriately for a chilly, yet sunny Sunday afternoon – casual, but not too casual, jeans in a perfect hue, and a ¾-length wool coat. He has perfectly messy hair that I could easily run my fingers through and I'm positive he's not just cute but witty as well.  Having not seen a lot of action today in Starbucks, I start to wonder if he’s a mirage.  Could it be?  Have I possibly found love with my latte?  He smiles at me – this is not a smile that intrigues me, but a smile that makes me tingly – and validates that the blond highlights I paid a small fortune for yesterday are indeed eye-catching, and were infact a good idea.  He orders two coffees – bad sign.  I think (i.e. hope) that the second cup of coffee is not for a female companion but instead for his mother... who is an invalid... who he sees on Sundays to bring her coffee since she can't leave the house.  How sweet of him - how amazingly thoughtful!  He waits for his two coffees and turns slightly, giving me a second glance and a smile.  I give him a casual half-smile in return.  He turns back towards the counter.
Just then an attractive girl walks in.  She saunters right up to him, puts her arm around his waist and leans in to give him a kiss on the cheek… buzz kill.  They leave together holding hands and he smiles at me on his way out.  Bastard.  Men who are attached should not physically be able to smile at anyone who has a vagina.
With that it's time to go.  My cup is empty and my meter is timing out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Not alone... and feeling surprisingly hopeful

Feeling sassy and cute with my second-day "going out" hair (ladies you know what I'm talkin' about... the kind of hair that looks tousled and voluminous - like you didn't sleep alone last night!  Don't worry Mom and Dad, Chloe the dog is the only one I cuddled with), I enter a surprisingly crowded Starbucks in Willoughby.  Of course I order my usual: Grande Non-fat Caramel Macchiato - I am a creature of habit.   

My macchiato and I find a quaint table for two with Frank Sinatra (love my coffee with a shot of rat pack).  My initial scan reveals a cute girl with her laptop and many text books (boy I wish we had wireless when I was in college!), couples who look like they've just come from church, and a few older gentlemen reading their newspapers.  Slim pickin's today in the cute 30-something guy market!  But I have sassy hair, good reading material and a great latte so I'm cool.

A blond bombshell walks in with her "don't you hate that I woke up looking this good" look, and suddenly I'm not feeling cute nor sassy.  "This is why I'm single," I think... because girls like that ruin it for the rest of us.  But am I really single because girls like that exist, or because of the way I feel about myself when I see them?  Probably the later, I'm assuming... note to self: I might not look like that, but I look natural and that's a good thing.  No joke, no sooner had I come to this new revelation and Aretha Franklin belts out "You make me feel like a natural woman."  How apropo.

Just when I think I'm not going to observe anything interesting, I realize that a blind date is taking place right before my very eyes at the table about 8 feet away.  They are approximately in their late 40's.  I don't overhear how they met but my guess is - that seems to be the default these days.  He is wearing a sweatshirt (wtf?) and she is wearing a very nice sparkly top (probably not right for Starbucks but she more than likely bought it specifically for this date in her excitement - I've been there).  They're exchanging the usual chit-chat (family, jobs, etc.) and she is soooo not into him.  In fact, she looks a tad disappointed.  She goes to the restroom and doesn't come back for 10 minutes.  Not a good sign buddy.  I've been to this Starbucks, many times, and there's never ever a long line in the women's room.  It's not a concert, it's Starbucks. 

When she returns, she says she needs to get going and he asks to see her again.  Her response: "ummmm... I don't know, maybe.  But thanks for the coffee." I think I just heard his heart snap in two.  He gets up and shakes her hand... a HAND SHAKE?  Wow, this is worse than I thought!  And of course, he shocks her with such a strong bolt of static electricity that I heard it.  Yikes!  He then makes a ridiculously cheesy comment about her being electrifying... Dude... Really?  This is why you're single.  She nervously laughs and looks at me like, "help!"  I shoot her a knowing smile from behind my macchiato, because again, I've so been there.  And I realize I'm not alone.  There are millions of great single women everywhere.  With this insight and new sense of hopefulness, I head to the mall to treat myself to some fabulous goodies from Victoria's Secret.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welcome to "Single Girl Seeks Love and a Latte"

I'm a 30 year-old single gal who's been searching for a hobby (and a hubby) for quite some time.  I've been saying to friends and family for years that I could likely meet my future husband if I let fate take over… fate could put him in line at my local Starbucks for all I know.  However, what are the chances of that really happening?  And what are the pickin's like at the local coffee shops here around Cleveland anyway?  I've decided to take my cute little netbook (and maybe a friend from time to time) and visit a different coffee joint every Sunday around town to see what kind of men I'll find there (hey, others have church, I have chai).  Maybe I'll find love.  Maybe I’ll just discover a great latte.  Regardless, I think I might have stumbled onto my new hobby.