I'm very particular with what I have with my coffee when I'm in a cafe. But it has to be a cake of some sort; either something caramel-like or mud cake. Today was no different when I decided to head into a cafe for a treat.
There was no line when I rocked up so if I had a brain fart, no harm in stalling right? Wrong. I ordered my coffee and then scanned the cabinet like always. Both options were available. I could feel 3 people behind me waiting and the stress levels increased slightly. I don't like being "that" person to hold people up because one, I have nowhere to be (and most of these people who use this cafe are business people) and two, when someone pulls this stunt, I'm usually the one mumbling under my breath something mean. I'm tossing up whether to have caramel or mud cake when someone taps me on the shoulder. In the reflection of the cabinet, I see a big beefy looking man with a stubble dusted over his chin like spilt pepper on a table.
"I bet mud cake would taste good with that brew," he joked, half smirk on his lips. "And some whipped cream on the side," followed by a not-so-subtle wink.
Did anyone see that wink? I asked myself coz that was not subtle. But I ride with it. I ended up picking the mud cake only because the thought of the Mack truck winking like that, got me flustered. I paid for my food, apologised for the wait to the other customers and waddled over to a table, hidden in the corner at the far end. I heard jolly ol' Mack truck laugh about something but didn't catch the punchline.
The autumn sun was shining through the cafe now, blanketing the interior with a flood of golden joy. I pulled out my notepad and pen just in case but pulled all attention to wait for Mack truck to walk past me. I couldn't see, all I could bank on was his voice. And maybe his cologne. That consumed the coffee aromas. But I wasn't complaining.
You could say Mack truck took me by surprised today and that I can still admire from afar. I am not entirely over the past relationship so still in the factory getting refurbished, waiting for him to come.
The waitress came round the corner with my order, smirking.
"What's funny? My faux pas?"
"Yes. He was at the paper stand before, trying to look like he was interested in what was to offer but I caught him scanning the café more. He was so looking for you. He’s cute,” she said, putting the cake on the table.
“As if,” I said, taking a sip of the coffee. "Is he new?"
"Kinda. Only been coming in for the past month or so," she said. She wiped the next table over and rearranged the sugars on display. "Anyway, get in there," she winked and left.
I started on the cake with the cream when Mack walked past, looking directly at me. He half-smiled at my attempt to disguise myself from eating whipped cream. He eyed the table next to me, plonked his briefcase on the seat and spread out the newspaper. Funnily enough, "Feels so good," by Atomic Kitten started blearing on my Spotify. The upbeat pop song started easing my nerves. Trish, the waitress, was correct. What a spunk!
I have to refrain myself from thinking such thoughts about a stranger next to me. Who would have thought that Atomic Kitten would be putting my nerves at ease. I didn't.
I found myself toe-tapping to the chorus as it serenaded my thoughts. "It feels so good, I knew that it would..."
A folded piece of paper, landed on my table. I looked down at it. It had Hello on it. I looked at it again. Is this man sending me notes now? I picked up the note and opened it up, snuck a look at Mack who was straight face buried in the international news. Okay.
"Didn't want to disturb you but hey, finally get to meet you. I've seen you around."
I write back, "Hello, what is your name?" Thank you for the note."
Is this corny or cute? I have no idea.
How fitting, I call him Mack truck and his name is Mark. Sounds like a Return of the Mack, by Mark Morrison, situation.
Oh dear god, now I have Return of the Mack playing in my head.
I write back, “Pedro.”
I sniggered. This to-and-fro note writing reminded me of Torrance and Cliff's bathroom scene in Bring it On (2000) where they are brushing their teeth and flirting at the same time. Is this every person’s dream? Brushing teeth together and sharing notes at a café. I wonder if he’ll pull the Pedro joke that everyone pulls when I convince them my name is Pedro. Is that similar to Napoleon Dynamite? Yes, yes it is. My actual name is Peyton. With an E.
The note's tossed back with, as you guessed it, “Napoleon Dynamite?”
I turned off my music. It was playing some Britney by now. I took out my earbuds and turned to Mack/Mark. “Hello.”
“Hello,” he gulped.
A professional-looking chap, straight as an arrow, suddenly getting nervous. My nerves were now skyrocketing.
“My name isn’t really Pedro,” I said, straightforward. “It’s Peyton. With an E.”
“That’s cute,” he said, quietly.
“I’m sorry I held the line up before,” I said, trying to keep the conversation stimulated. “Cake is so damn hard to pick!”
“I can get your other pick if you like,” he offered. He didn’t look so much like a sweaty nervous kid on the first day of high school now.
“I’m fine, thank you,” I said, taking sip from my coffee.
“So, what do you write down in there?” he asked, pointing at my notepad.
“Oh, you know, thoughts,” I said, generalising. “Nothing exciting.”
“Anything about me?”
I shot him a look. “Sorry, I only knew you existed till today. Maybe try tomorrow.”
“I will,” looking at his watch. “Same time tomorrow?”
1535 hours. Tempting.
“Tempting,” I said, slyly.
He finished up the last of his coffee and then pulled out something from his jacket pocket. It was a business card. His full name is Mark J. Copeland and he is a lawyer.
“Can I tempt you with this then?”
He tidied up his table, took the newspaper with him, briefcase in the other hand. He looked back at me and smiled. “May hear from you soon?”
And there it was. Some things are predictable and organic, if you can say that. I’m left wondering whether I should message Mark. Would this be a hook-up or something more? Meanwhile, Mark walked past the window and looked straight at me as I stare at his business card, looking like a confused dork. I gave him a courteous wave. I looked at my phone and then the business card. Then back at the phone. He’s probably walking into a shit-storm divorce between a fighting couple. Maybe he needs a distraction.
Oh what the hell.
I put in his number into my phone and sent a hello.