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.