She walked up to the counter. I know her. She’s been here before with others. They sit in the corner making their own scribblings on pieces of paper. Those papers are what they will, one day, be known for. The man with his large dark beard and round framed glasses and only takes almond milk in his coffee, and the women he is surrounded by, all of whom have the same natural smell and appearance. I can tell they are excited about their work.
The way I was excited when I decided I would be a choreographer for my new band or professional horseback rider or when my eight year old self and eight year old versions of my friends decided to create our own business.
They say nothing but nice things to one another. They are supportive and loving and completely fraudulent. Something about their never ending kindness frustrated me. I wanted to love them, because it seemed that love was all they knew how to do, but it was an act.
She spoke in a high wispy voice and talked to me with familiarity. A kind of familiarity that was disturbing, because I had no idea who she really was. “ I don’t know what to tip you.” She said to me. “ So I am going to tip you with love.” She continued as she drew a heart in the blank labeled “tip” on the receipt. I smiled, half amused, half bewildered. I thought to myself “I’m not here to be loved.”
“Bless you.” She said as she slightly bowed her head and waied me. I had not sneezed.
I made conversation, intrigued. “What were you guys working on yesterday?” I asked her.
“Well, let me see. We wrote it down here somewhere.” She said in her same airy tone, trying to make it appear effortless. She began to shuffle through the lose papers in her hands. I wondered to myself what she sounded like when she wasn’t playing this part. Did she speak with more conviction? Was her voice deeper? Her enlightened self was forced.
“We are attempting to recalibrate our moral compasses, in an ever enveloping immoral society.” She read off one of her or her cohorts’ scribblings.
I smiled, unsure of what to make of their verbose goal. I simply said, “Well, I wish there were more people like you in the world.” This was a lie. But I was performing as well.
At that point this woman decided that love was not enough and put a couple dollars in the tip jar between us. The curtains closed and we became ourselves again, only after separating.