“It’s over. The icecaps are melting.”—Overheard at the coffeehouse.
I’m a fan of coffeehouses. Wherever I go, I check out the coffee. There’s Java House in Iowa City, The Runcible Spoon in Bloomington, the Cafe Diem in Ames, Well Grounded in Omaha, Zanzibar in Des Moines, The Oddly Correct Coffee Bar in Kansas City, the Blue Heron in Winona, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Washington, D.C., Caffe Nero in London, Caribou and Starbucks everywhere. And the Borders cafe was so reader-friendly that I taught a small Latin class there.
These days I know how to brew excellent coffee, but when I need a break I head out with a book or newspaper for half an hour. And, if possible, I grab a window table, because cafes tend to be dimly-lit.
Most people are on electronic devices, but the tables are so close together that everybody eavesdrops on everybody else’s conversation, like it or not. Sometimes it’s sports talk, incomprehensible to me. Sometimes it’s gossip, and gossip is the same everywhere: sex, politics, work. I tune that right out. At the moment the politicians are on the State Fair circuit, so everybody’s talking about the 22 (or whatever the count is) running for president.
Overheard in a coffeehouse: “It’s all smoke and mirrors. They’ll cancel each other out.”
And what’s everyone reading at the coffeehouse? Isn’t that what we all want to know?
Anne Tyler’s Clock Dance, Madeline Miller’s Circe, which is going to be made into an HBO series, Laura Lippmann’s latest, J. Ryan Stradal’s The Lager Queen of Minnesota, Neal Stephenson’s Fall, or Dodge in Hell, Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdads Sing…
And what people are reading on phones and e-readers, only the corporations know for sure.