Sitting at Barnes and Nobles’ café with a café mocha and a piece of raspberry cheesecake – yes, this is a departure from the normal sugar cookie – I took stock of the people around me. Because it wasn’t early evening, there weren’t as many people in the café as there would be later on. There were many empty tables. I am not sure why, but there were not many students present with their laptops plugged in and studying or writing. I saw only one. She wore pajama bottoms with Sponge Bob Square-pants on them and a plain blue tee. An open backpack was beside her in a chair and a stack of books to her left with topics ranging from economics, biology, and English literature to algebra, calculus, and natural history. There were the ever-present ear buds stuck in her ears and she was listening to music from her phone, which was also attached to the laptop; I think it was charging.
The other patron at the café with me and the student was an older gentleman. He had a laptop and a stack of books he had collected throughout the book store. In his stack there was science fiction, fantasy, history, and an equally impressive stack of magazines. There were also several How To books in a chair beside him in a chair. Unlike the girl, he did not have in ear buds and wasn’t listening to music, but he did have his cell phone lying on the table beside his laptop.
His white hair was close to his head, nearing a military hair cut. His jeans were clean and well-worn as was the belt, and his tee-shirt was pale blue. (Was this ‘Wear A Blue Tee Shirt To Barnes And Noble Day’ and I missed the memo?) Worn white tennis shoes were on his feet, and these he had crossed at the ankles under the table. Like me, he was wearing glasses with bifocals. There was something about this man I kept glancing at. He was in his own world at his table, but he was also aware of what was going on around him, whereas the student was absorbed in her study. The man glanced over at me and caught me looking at him – I hope I wasn’t staring – and he smiled.
“You’re old school,” he said, with an amiable chuckle. He nodded to my table where I had arranged the books I had collected throughout the stacks, my notebooks – diary, writing notebook, pain journal, and a pad for letters – and pencil-case where all of my pens were held safely. A couple of library books were nearest the stack of books from the store to make sure I would not get them mixed up.
“Yeah, I guess I am. I have a laptop, but rarely bring it any more.”
“Do you write?” he asked.
“Yes, I do.”
“Published?” I shook my head. “I am working on my memoirs,” he said proudly. “Not many people will want to read about an old horse farmer, but I figured it would be good for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
“I’m a big fan of memoirs and biographies. I read them as much as I read everything else. They are one of my favorite genres.”
“OK, then there will be one person who will read my memoir once it gets published.” I agreed.