She Reads South Asia


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Submission to Caffeine Society Stories Contest

A Mind-Brewing Experience

The early morning line at Café Arpeggio was out the door as always. Being the best café in Fall River, Massachusetts, their assorted eclectic coffees excelled over what you received at any of the others and was certainly beyond that of the numerous local donut shops. Not often minding the wait, as being a freelance writer, my schedule was ordinarily unrushed, today was different. I had an interview to conduct and was running late. Now, after standing in line with a clear view of the menu board for the last ten minutes, the guy in front of me still couldn‘t make up his mind. The seconds on my watch seemed to tick off louder than usual, echoing in my head, as if to emphasis how ticked off I was in reality. “Come on buddy,” I thought to myself.

After scratching his chin for the fifth time, he came to a decision. “Finally,” I thought.

“I’ll have a brambleberry-filled muffin and a medium Caramel Blizzard Latte, dark with three sugars and extra shots of caramel and whipped cream. Oh, and can you put one of those chocolate covered maraschino cherries on it too please?”

I did a double take. He ordered his coffee the exact same way I did, along with my favorite muffin. “Make that two,” I blurted out loud, not wanting the barista to waste anymore time.

The man turned around to see who shared his creative taste of gourmet brew and bakery delight. He smiled and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who drinks their coffee this way and with the same muffin. Amazing.”

“Maximum doses of caffeine and sugar,” I replied, smiling back. “Sorry about jumping in and ordering mine at the same time but I’m kind of in a hurry.”

“There’s no need to apologize. Actually, I’m running late for an interview myself.”

“An interview? You too?”

The barista broke into the conversation. “Is this all together?”

We both answered simultaneously. “Yes.” “No.”

“Ok, which is it folks? Do you see this line out the door,” the barista asked in frustration.

As he handed a ten-dollar bill to the barista, he adamantly said “yes” and told him to keep the change for his troubles. Turning back to face me, he said, “I insist. Now, we should get to our interviews and allow some of these other people to get their ‘cuppa joe’ too, before they stampede us for taking so long.”

We moved out of the ever-growing line with our carefully guarded items of sustenance. Precariously holding his in one hand, he held out the other in an introductory manner. By the way, my name is Rahul and yours?”

I stood there dumbfounded. How was it that I didn’t recognize him earlier? I slowly reached out for his hand, still in a daze. “Rahul,” I repeated. “Rahul Malhotra?”

“What a coincidence, that’s my name too,” he laughed.

I stuttered. “No, I meant…well you obviously know what I meant. I’m sorry; my name is Michaela, Michaela Simmons. I’m the…”

“Ah yes, you’re the lovely lady who’s conducting the interview that I’m late for. My humble apologies. Nice to finally meet you.”

“I’m just as late, so I apologize as well. And yes, it’s nice to finally meet you too.”

“Well, now that we’ve got the apologies out of the way, if it’s all the same to you, there is an empty booth over in the corner. We could do the interview there and save on any further delays. What do you say?”

“That sounds like a great idea,” I agreed.

After getting settled in the booth, I took one sip of my latte before taking out all the needed equipment for the interview, including my prized copy of his book, which awaited an autograph and a mini tape recorder.

“You don’t mind if I tape it too, do you?”

“Not at all. I’ll just try and speak up over the chaos at the counter.”

We both laughed, which broke the rest of the lingering nervousness.

“Well, I already have an answer to a question I’ve never yet asked when interviewing an author - what is your favorite café java and baked good item.”

“Yes, and you don’t even need to write down the answer to remember it.”

“I think from now on I’ll make it a unique, yet standard question in all my interviews.”

The questions continued until “the interview” concluded several hours later, although by the end of it all I wondered who had queried whom.

Later on that evening, I was sitting at my desk, trying to come up with an interesting ending for my article, which eluded me, that is until I looked at the take out menu from the café. Their slogan read: “The tastiest fun in town.” It seemed to capture the time we spent there and promised to spend again as a couple, hopefully for years to come.

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