I have a few loyalty cards in my wallet. They are all for coffee shops that I frequent. I used to spread my custom around, not only in the town where I live but also when I went to the city. Being an old fool I quite often would present the wrong card for stamping which would be politely returned while I scrabbled around for a Cibo or Coffee Club card instead.
There is one, 'Il Kafé', I tend to use a lot as I get a free coffee for every five I’ve had. So I go there often. I try to convince myself that is the reason I go there so often. It may also be because they sell a yummy fruit bun called a Danish Swirl. I have selected it so often instead of me asking them what I want they ask me if I would like a Cappuccino with a Danish Swirl. Sometimes they will say “The usual?” and I will nod in return. They don’t all call it a Danish Swirl but a variation of that so each girl behind the counter will ask Curl? or Twirl? or Snail? Or whatever they think the sticky bun’s name is.
I retreat to a seat after picking up the daily paper from the rack. This saves buying the paper so this makes the coffee even cheaper. There is always one there which makes visiting this café such a pleasure.
Normally I choose a table for two and face out of the café on to the shopping mall. I don’t watch the passers by but I read the newspaper. I face in that direction as there is problem if I face in. There is a beautiful girl behind the counter sometimes working the barista machine or preparing food or may even be out in the kitchen doing chores there. She is stunning. She is blonde with a flawlessly beautiful face and eyes that sparkle with laughter. When she looks at me I melt. Her hair is usually pulled back in a little chignon almost at the top of her head. So I stare out into the mall lest I stare at her.
I have the wit to know that she is not for me of course but she makes me feel young so why not go to the café to feel young I say. Yes we have spoken, not only of fruit buns and coffee but when we do, I stumble over my words like a sixteen year old talking to a girl he fancies for the very first time. She won’t stay working there long, she will study and get a job she really wants to do rather than serve coffee and buns to old men who sit staring out into the mall rather than at her. I can see she already has determination and success written all over her beautiful face. One day when I go back for my coffee and bun she will have gone and that will be good for her and for me.
But for the moment as I get up and put the daily paper back in its rack and walk out of the café she sometimes sees me go and we smile and I am strangely at peace with the world. But alas I don’t even know her name.