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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Berlin Café Stories

By Lia of the Yum Yum Café blog

Lovers’ Brunch in a Berlin Café
Wool sweater, home knit, falling off her left shoulder exposing her white porcelain neck to her lover, they fall into an intense discussion that, at some point, slides unpredictably into a full blown disagreement, even though she and her older lover are happily in love, soaked in love, yet, it is true that her older lover, who dons a 60s goatee, which he’s worn since those Beatnik days, for he is well into his 60s in age, is happy with his young lover, happy the way she draws attention when she walks into the café, whereas, his red-eyed lover who’s wearing the wool sweater slipping off her left shoulder on this gorgeous late summer day, is less than happy, even though she is just in her 20s, she has intellectual points to argue, and it is only when the intellectual slides over into the personal, her hand gestures become less fluid holding the cigarette, less sensual, rather, they turn choppy, like her words that are spit out, enunciating her hurt, underlying her vulnerability, and so, this breakfast of warm croissants and black coffee in a public place, becomes a dramatic, private break up that none of us hear, but we all bear witness to in silence.

Retired Professors
They’ve been friends for years. Ever since they worked together in the same office at the university. Long retired. Surprisingly, both have managed to keep up their youthful appearances. That is, considering their age. They exude a lively intellect. They are the type of professionals that have worked long, but never hard.

Today, they’ve met for coffee and cigarillos. As they do every Thursday. Sharing the newspaper. One reads the current events section. The other prefers the editorials.

A homeless person wanders from table to table asking for money. Many of the customers look the other way when he is addressing them, as if the man is an annoyance to be pointedly ignored. Others just shake their heads denying their inclination.

When the man arrives at the professors’ table, the one invites the fellow to sit down at their table. He offers the man one of his cigarillos, then asks the passing waitress to bring another cup of coffee. The three men sit in comfortable silence. When the homeless man finishes his coffee, he nods his head in thanks, gets up without disturbing the professors any further and leaves the café.

Pompous Old Fool
He’s obviously derives much pleasure in hearing himself speak. More so than listening to what the other two at the table have to say.

Speaking forcefully, vehemently, he expounds upon the charms of New York while sitting in a charming café in the middle of Charlottenburg in Berlin. The sun is shining. The cappuccino lush. Where does this pompous old fool find the energy to continue his tirade?

His table guests try to change the direction of his bitter words. First, by posing leading questions towards other directions. Which he ignores. Then, they offer light humour. An insult to his immense (ego) intelligence.

He snaps his fingers impatiently at the waitress. More bread. He interrupts the conversation of the other two to complain about mundane idiosyncrasies.

His voice carries across the room and invades my solitary side order of salad. Making me close my eyes and feeling his abrasiveness scrape across my mind. Leaving traces of irritation.

I wish him well. I wish him gone.

Hanging onto his Words
She leans over the restaurant table to hang more closely onto his words. A young woman of undeniable beauty and credible intelligence. She is obviously accustomed to attention. Her dinner companion, with his indistinguishable looks, is not.

He tries not to presume upon her continued interest. Disbelieving the overt signals emanating from her body gestures and the twinkle of her eyes, he continues to rapidly talk on. Never giving her a chance to interrupt the flow of his anxiety. In the confusion of the situation, his belly is telling him one thing (shut up) and his mind another (don’t stop).

He drones on in the hope that he’ll either be put out of this persisting misery, or his deepest wish for love with a beauty queen will come true.

In mid-sentence, the woman reaches over and taps his hand gently. He ceases to talk for a split second. His body registers the gesture, informs the brain of its significance, which thankfully then closes down. At last, at the end of this pause, he asks her a question about herself.

Happily, she leans back into her seat and begins a long tale. One, she has perhaps told many times to men such as her date this evening. He leans forward across the table, hanging closely upon her words.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Often times while dining out, the wife and I (I more than she)consider the stories we sit in the midst of. I've even dared to step into another's space; perhaps becoming a part of some other observer's story.

I had my tea but enjoyed an imagined biscuit also as your vignets gave me a seat in the Cafe'.

I especially enjoyed the sentence of the first offering. Your writing gave a sense of the establishment. The mess of smugness, vanity, secrecy and kindness were all in the atmosphere.

Well done my lady.

I love reading your stories, Lia. You have such a wonderful way of bringing life to your characters and I am right there in the story watching these fascinating plots come to life.

You are blessed with so many talents and have the wisdom to use them. Please keep writing and all of your followers will continue to read.

I always enjoy people watching in public places, but until recently anything they said was a light buzz in my almost deaf ears. Since I got hearing aids, I can more easily hear their conversations - but I often think that doesn't make them more interesting to me.

Lia - I'll have to remember to whisper in the future. (I'm sure I was the "Pompous Old Fool")!

These are great!

As for "Lovers' Brunch in a Berlin Cafe" - I don't think I've read a sentence that long since I struggled through the translation of Julius Ceasar in tenth grade Latin class. Yours was much more fun!

great sketches, Lia. Thank you

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