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Two Blokes

Updated on August 18, 2011
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I have been frequenting Starbucks coffee shop in my town for several months now. They do a lovely caramel macchiato, which is my current guilty pleasure, and it's quite possible that the coffee is the real reason I go there. I didn't even know that I liked coffee until Starbucks sucked me in and gave my drink different flavours and put syrup in it and chocolate sprinkles on top and did it skinny and sugar free and blended it with ice and covered it in whipped cream and allowed me to order it by speaking a little Italian, 'tall, grande, venti...' (is 'tall' an Italian word? And I just looked up 'venti' and the translator told me that it means 'twenty' in Italian - maybe I am not ordering my coffee in a foreign language at all; I feel duped.)

Anyhow, I go to Starbucks on the pretense of it being my favourite place to write, as many, many of us do. I think that some of us are lying to ourselves with that one. We see other people being studious and think that we would like to be the same, but we're only successful in looking studious. For me, it is actually the place where I am the least productive. For one thing, Starbucks is next to WHSmith, so I've often bought a new notebook or pen or very intellectual magazine to make myself appear more intelligent than I really am. I am distracted by these purchases for a good half an hour. But there are other distractions in there in the form of interesting people. As I only have a couple of hours of writing time before I'm off to collect the smallest child from nursery, it only takes a couple of instances of eavesdropping for me to feel frustrated with myself at how little I have written.

I do realise, of course, that these conversations that I secretly listen to are invaluable as sources of inspiration for future characters and plots. But really, a writer must get on and write sometimes; we cannot continue to rename our periods of wasted time as research forever.

I have been a Starbucks customer for the past few months on any or all of Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and I believe I am now what might be termed a regular. There are a few other regulars, and none of us acknowledge each other: perhaps because to do so would be to admit to sloth and gluttony. Perhaps also greed, because Starbucks do a stunning almond croissant and not only do I want to eat them gluttonously, I also want to have them all for myself (oh, I do covet them all) and prevent anyone else from having them. I suppose you could also say that I do lust after the almond croissant, and I am envious to the point of anger when I see another person eating one. Were it not for my inflated sense of pride, I would probably march on over to those almond croissants and stuff them in my face.

Well, I do apologise. I am digressing quite alarmingly and shamelessly there. What it actually is, the point of my ramblings today, is that there are these two blokes, and they always set me wondering about human nature and what an amusing and quirky thing it is. It would seem that these two blokes have been Starbucks regulars for much longer than I have. I cannot tell whether they knew each other before coffee or not, or indeed if they even know each other away from coffee now; but they seem to be mates, though they do not sit together.

They both have shaved heads and facial hair, but I will differentiate by dubbing one of them Bearded Bloke and the other Stubble Bloke.

Bearded Bloke is usually there when I arrive. Sometimes he has his adorable daughter with him. I am guessing that she is about two years old: her speech is exceptional if she is two, and I love it when she is there because she is a delight to listen to. Sometimes Bearded Bloke is alone. When he is alone he works away furiously, obviously extremely busy and important. I have not been able to glean any information about his career from my sly eavesdroppings (eww!), so I cannot tell what manner of work he does. Sometimes when he goes past me to get a refill from downstairs I catch his eye and smile at him, but he never acknowledges my presence and his eye passes over me as though I am invisible. Now don't be sad, because I am not so insecure that I would be offended by that. I just find it a curious thing.

Stubble Bloke arrives a little after me. He finds his seat before his coffee is made. He takes off his wrappings of scarf, hat and coat (all very nice, very trendy, he looks like someone who likes nice things), runs back downstairs to fetch his coffee, runs back up without spilling a drop, and then gets down to business. Laptop on, iPhone out, papers neatly spread wide on the table. He chats to Bearded Bloke while he is setting out his stall. Then he usually phones someone, or he receives a call. He is charismatic, friendly, interesting and interested. He has a lot more to say about his own life than the people he chats to have, but that is not his fault, his life is just very full. But he strikes me as being very grounded and not too full of himself. If he mentions an achievement he will usually play it down with a self-deprecating quip. I believe he writes, freelance, for children's television, but I cannot be sure about that.

But here's the thing: I seem to be invisible to Stubble Bloke too. One morning he stood right beside my seat when he was plugging in his laptop charger. I looked up at him and smiled: nothing, blankness. I am invisible.

Now then, it is my fault? Has the moment passed when it would have been appropriate for me to say the first hello? Or perhaps I have been subconsciously submitting to their age (they're a bit older than me I think) and experience, and have treated them too reverentially by waiting for them to deign to speak to me. Rather like one behaves when one meets the Queen, one does not speak to Her Majesty until she has spoken to... erm, one.

Breaking news: I just went to the loo (no-one can spend two hours drinking coffee without going to the loo at least once, surely?) and as I passed Bearded Bloke and little daughter I smiled, as usual, and he smiled back! It could well be a one-off, but this is a first, and I found that it made me a bit nervous that he might say hello. Why? Because once a shy person, always a shy person in some situations. I have rendered myself shy with the two blokes by placing them on pedestals and imagining them to be kinds of high-flyers and therefore superior to me. Nonsense, of course, they're just blokes. But there we are, that is the effect that their maintaining of the distance between us has had: it has made them mini celebrities in my world. And no doubt I have now made them slightly bigger celebrities by turning them into a hub.

Now I must add myself to the scene so that you can wonder about it all with me. I am made conspicuous these days by my hair. It is not very often normal, you see, and it changes colour frequently because I get bored by its staying the same for too long. My hair gets spiked, it gets messed, it gets flicked up, it gets straightened. I am not saying that I am stunning and dazzling, because I am not, but I do not exactly blend into the wallpaper. And I would have thought that, especially as I drink my caramel macchiato in this particular Starbucks at least twice a week, I would stand out that little bit more. But perhaps I underestimate my powers of pretense. It could be that they are intimidated by me. Perhaps they think that I am a slightly famous novelist and they dare not speak to me for fear of being written about. Perhaps the balance of power is not weighed in the way that I think it is.

But what I was working towards saying, before Bearded Bloke acknowledged my existence, is how interesting it is that two blokes whom I have never met can have an impact on my life just by occupying a little of the same space as me. If my life was made into a musical, they would be in the chorus, and would have a song and dance number with the rest of the extras about laptops and deadlines. I would sing a solo in the middle of their piece, and mine would be about writing waffle whilst all around me others are doing serious work. Though for all I know, Stubble Bloke could well be a rich socialite who organises his busy evenings over a double espresso and a toasted fruit bread. Bearded Bloke could be unemployed and spending his days trawling the internet for work, poor guy.

Another interesting thing that I've noticed about the two blokes is that I miss them when they're not there, because I cannot help but like them. Now that I've made mention of their existence and presence in my life, I always notice their absence. It's ridiculous really. The other day Stubble Bloke told someone on the phone that he was going to London for a few days, and I felt quite sad that he wouldn't be in Starbucks to not keep me company. How very bizarre.

I wonder whether I will ever speak to the blokes. Of course I will hub about it if I do.

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    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Good experience. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      And thanks for reading.

      Linda.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      How cool is this, and your right it is funny and strange and that is why I like it. These are our daily live we write about, no matter, this one is quite fun and I now miss them too. You must keep us updated. Lovely and I rate you up up love and peace darski

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      A really well written hub, Linda. I love the flow and the vaguely static, yet restless atmosphere (is that possibel?). Attention to detail only where it's needed.

      Attagirl

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thank you Darski, my friend. These are the things I think I most like to write about, those little things that happen every day that cause you to sit up and think 'hang on a minute, what's this all about?' I loved your hub on the spider bite - though I did not love that you suffered :( I hope you are feeling much better now.

      Linda.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thank you Twilight. Interesting that you liked the flow of this piece because before I typed it up it had none at all - glad I've managed to give it some! I see what you mean about static and restless, and I think this is the nature of coffee shops actually - a lot going on, but everyone sitting still in a lovely contradictory way.

      I've never had an 'attagirl' before :D I like that, thank you kindly.

      Linda.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I liked this...it was interesting, engaging and candid. I had a chuckle over:

      "I think that some of us are lying to ourselves with that one."

      Nicely written.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thank you Genna. Glad to make you chuckle :)

      Linda.

    • ZozieM profile image

      ZozieM 6 years ago from London, UK

      Mmmmmm.... caramel macchiato and almond croissant..... I feel a trip to the coffee emporium coming on..... DAMIT, they'll be shut when I finish work *sigh*

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Oh Zoe, I feel your pain, I do. I hope you don't have to wait too long for the luscious coffee-and-almondness.

      Lx.

    • lyndapringle profile image

      Lynda Pringle 6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      I have a similar take on Starbucks. I haven't patronized it in months due to my unemployed status but that will be my first stop when I receive my first paycheck from my new job. I really do miss their drinks and ambiance. During the first six months after I resigned my last job (when I still had enough money for discretionary spending), I'd go to Starbucks about twice a week just to be around people but yet to not have to interact with them. I found it comforting to be surrounded by others doing their own thing while enjoying relative anonymity to do my thing. It was a good escape from the isolation of being at home alone for too long while my husband worked. Can't wait to get back there. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Lynda, that relieves my mind very much actually, to hear that you would go to Starbucks to not interact with people. I was actually wondering whether my behaviour, in not approaching the blokes, might be construed as ignorant. But I guess it's a nice thing to seek the company of others, but preserving anonymity - it's a better solution to isolation than just turning the TV on.

      Thanks for sharing too Lynda.

      Linda.

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Linda, A really good,entertaining Hub which i totally enjoyed reading. In my mind i have visions that the two guys in Starbucks are actually Hubbers and at some point they will find this Hub and they will either welcome you over to join them or never look in your direction again!!

      Great stuff. Michael.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Ha ha, oh that would just be perfect Michael. I would love that, after the embarrassment of being caught out had worn off. I'd like to think that they'd welcome me, unless they'd been offended by the rich socialite and unemployed person bits.

      Linda.

    • bellawritter23 profile image

      Erica Sanchez 6 years ago from California

      You have to try the Cinammon Dolce Latte! My all time Fav. was the Macchiato until the dolce hit me. Great hub! Voted up and following!

      smiles :)

      bella

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Nice to meet you Bella. I will certainly give that a try, it sounds delicious.

      Thanks for the vote and the follow too!

      Is that you in the picture, with the tattoo? I was just thinking of writing a tattoo hub :)

      Linda.

    • profile image

      strawb 6 years ago

      Fascinating read - you make the ordinary seem so extraordinary and colourful. You have breathed life into two men and given them a portal into further chapters.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Me and portals, eh?

      I saw the two blokes in Starbucks yesterday, and it was very strange indeed to know that I had been talking about them on here without their knowing anything about it! I felt a little ashamed, and as if I ought to tell them :)

    • queenpoetica profile image

      queenpoetica 6 years ago from England

      your two men should remain as they are, do not speak to them or they will lose their mystery. Good hub, you write to be read.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I think you're right actually, Mother, I don't think I would like to speak to them. I think it's funnier for me to know them for years and years without ever meeting them. Let's see how long we can make this strange relationship continue, just as it is.

      I now definitely know that they are Liverpool fans, because they talked about the match tonight on Channel 5 - and Kev and I are now watching the match, on Channel 5 :) I wonder if I will hear them talking about the result in the morning.

      Lx.

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