It is nearly sunny over Puget sound by eight a.m.
My feet pound pavement. Walking to work.
A simple luxury of the highest order.
A man hugs three people outside the osteria,
one at a time,
ring around the roses style.
Lighting a cigar, he and his bulldog walk away and across the street to
my side of the road.
They precede me by about six feet as we walk.
I inhale deeply the spirals of smoke that follow him.
I feel less sheepish about the plumes of vapor I emit.
He stops to let me pass.
“Don’t want you breathing my fumes.”
“I was enjoying it.”
I was enjoying it, too.
“Showbiz Kids” comes through my cans.
Steely Dan’s Countdown to Ecstasy.
Five minutes later, I arrive at the cozy, little bistro located on Main Street. Two blocks from the water. I see the beach town’s Monday morning is already in full swing. Live and bumping with mostly silverhairs, at this hour.
The exception being a thirty-something couple that I wager is still out from last night.
They drink a lot of water.
(No one likes ice in their water here.)
I hum my hellos to the front of house crew.
I get mumbles back. It is early.
I announce my hellos to the back of house who are singing a song in Spanish that I have never heard. They wave enthusiastically. They have been here three hours longer than front of house.
Their coffee already kicked in.
and, the sun finally asserts itself, breaking free from behind clouds.
This thrills and disappoints.
I am already sweating. The A/C unit has not worked since I started.
I am used to the heat from my former life.
I hear garbled voices rise:
“[Something, something, something] Moroccan immigrants!”
“[Something, something, something] So what?! People look at you funny? Big deal.”
I doubt he knows what that feels like, but
what do I know?
As he leaves, I smile and offer the obligatory: “Thanks for coming in. Have a good day.”
“No!” he says, then approaches me.
Stepping in close.
“I had a friend and when people told him to have a good day, he’d say, “Don’t you ever tell me what to do.” “
I laugh and I mean it.
“Well, in that case, I sure hope you have an awful day,” I say with nonchalance.
He looks confused then smiles.
“This one, huh?” he says to no-one, indicating me with a finger.
“Didn’t you learn pointing at people is impolite?”