Friday, April 25, 2008

How I Became a Starbucks Stalker - Pt. 2

He had said I wasn't ready and his words just hung there in the think coffee aroma filled air. I didn't say anything, though the curiosity pounded beneath my heart and threatened to leap forth and demand him to tell me what he meant. He sat back in his chair and just let the moment sink in I now suspect. He sipped on his coffee and smiled at another person that had sat down two tables over.

Still puzzling over his comment, I noticed that he was literally having yet another conversation with a young lady and her teenage son, transitioning from me to them with perfect ease. He was asking her questions and making her smile and was even getting a few grins from her teenage son. I watched him without really realizing I was watching him. The way his easy going way seemed to attract other peoples' eye. Even people that were just fixing their coffee with sugar and creamer somehow seemed to be drawn to him and seemed to eavesdrop on what he had to say. I remember thinking this guy must know everyone here but almost immediately I sensed that wasn't the case. These people were strangers to him, at least until that day he decided they weren't.

As I sat there and watched and became lost in my own thoughts, his hand appeared on my shoulder and he said, "This is my sorry friend, I didn't catch your name," his eyes and the eyes of the woman and her son firmly fixed on me now.

"Ummm, my name is Steve," I sheepishly murmured and offered what had to be a confused smile.

"Oh that's right, it's Steve," he said as if I had told him and he had forgotten. Though I can't honestly say that I had. His attention now returned to the young mother, "Steve and I were just talking about how many fascinating people come through that door." Her attention turned to the door and the growing line.

"I guess I never thought about that," she replied.

"Oh you betcha. So many people with so many stories. I find it quite simply fascinating." Both her and her son now seemed to join us and watch the endless stream of people coming and going. A mutual sense of appreciation for this odd man's observation seemed to settle over us when he chimed in, "So tell me what inspires you young man."

The teenager looked shocked at such a crazy question. His teenage bravado rose to the surface like a pot coming to a boil and then like a magic spell had been cast his expression suddenly changed and he blurted out "art!" The man asked him what kind of art and as if the starter's gun had signaled the beginning of the race, the young man proceeded to tell us all about his love for drawing and the artists he was currently studying and hoping one day to emulate. He spoke for what had to be nearly five minutes straight with nary a breath taken, his proud mom looking adoringly on the whole time.

I watched as age was transcended and replaced with enthusiastic interaction. There wasn't an age gap between my new friend and this teenager, just good conversation. I found myself pulled squarely into this kid's passion despite knowing little about art myself. The old man however, seemed to know a good bit about the subject and asked the boy question after question which he enthusiastically answered until his mom interrupted with a polite reminder he still had school and she had work. I remember being disappointed as I was thoroughly enjoying the back and forth.

We all stood up and exchanged handshakes all around. "You two have a wonderful day. Don't forget to stop and enjoy it you hear?" They both smiled and shook their heads. "Good luck with your art my friend," he said to the young man, gripping his hand and patting him on the back. "I expect the next time we meet you will show me some of your drawings yes?" The kid looked as if he was about to explode with appreciation and excitement; a look I was amazed by, given the cool bravado he had shown just minutes earlier. With that they left and we returned to our two seats.

"You really got that kid going," I said as both a comment and question.

"Ah I didn't do much. Just asked the right questions. He did all the heavy lifting," he smiled and snorted with a look of real satisfaction. "You will be amazed at what simple, unassuming questions can reveal about someone if you just have the courage to take a chance and ask." With that he got up from the table and said, "You will learn. See you soon."

We exchanged handshakes and with that he was gone. A horrible feeling washed over me as I realized I had failed to get his name. A sense of panic set in at the total lack of manners and I immediately got up from my table, grabbed my stuff and rushed out to the parking lot to find him. But he was gone.

I hoped 'see you soon' meant tomorrow.


zelda said...

awh! your story was fantastic! I love the way you write stories, you keep me glued to my computer screen. You have a wonderful gift my friend. I hope you run into that man again...soon. :-)


Arlin K. Pauler said...

My previous comment ended up deleted in my attempt to correct it.
At any rate, that leprechaun from the back of your truck a few weeks ago seems to have the ability to shape shift.

Sue said...

:-) This post has slowed me down.

I'm glad I caught this in my reader this morning. Earlier I was focused solely on getting the cleaning done. I've been focused on it so hard that I am pushing everything else away.

Thanks for this. I read this and I feel every cell in my body slowing down, grinding to a halt, wanting to watch my nephew and son as they play cars and pirates and focusing solely on having fun.

Steve Harper said...

Thanks Zelda! never know though J seemed a big bigger than the Leprechaun. awesome is that? Thanks for the incredibly cool comment. slow down. This moment right now is all we are promised. Enjoy it.

Ripple On My Friends!