Our coffee klatch is chiefly composed of old people these days. Not you, Kyle. But the rest of us regulars. One day DiAnne announced: “I’m married to a 70-year-old man.” I commiserated. So am I. We’ve met weekly at Coffee at the Point for ten years. Maybe six, maybe sixteen. Ten years is my fallback guess for how long ago anything was. When did we take that trip? Ten years ago. When did we buy this mattress? Ten years ago. Time for a new one.
Judy gets credit for our being here. We met her and Kyle, Lara, Alan and his young son Nick at a coffee shop in Whittier, where we all lived and some of us still do. Alan and Nick played chess with a Simpsons set. Lara came with baby Dedee in a stroller. When that shop closed we said our goodbyes. Judy refused: “Oh no, you don’t. We’ll find another place.”
“We” meant Judy, who found Coffee at the Point, then operating with another name and owner, and rounded us up. C at P is in Five Points, which borders Whittier. Alan started working Saturdays and Nick started playing sports, so we soon didn’t see them anymore. Lara moved to the burbs, doesn’t get to town much and Dedee just graduated from high school. Congrats, Dedee!
We added John and DiAnne, who I at first frowned on because they live on the wrong side of Downing. (This is a Whittier group, people!) “How long have you been coming to this coffee group?” I asked DiAnne. “About ten years,” she replied. I glared at her. Now we have drop-ins from as far afield as Cheesman Park. We also include Jerry, who lives upstairs from the shop, takes the elevator and walks 30 feet to join us, the closest thing we’ve got to a New York experience.
Judy began to manage the art for C at P a few years back. One morning we discovered the owner, Ryan, had set up a table with a black tablecloth and printed sign: “Reserved for Judy Weaver & Friends.” Every Saturday morning since, our reserved table awaits us. It’s gone a bit to Judy’s head. She issues warnings about who may or may not be her friends this week.
Alan showed up last Saturday with a towering young man, a fellow who graduates from college next year, is 21 and claims to be the little Nick kid we used to watch play chess. “How long since we’ve seen you?” “About ten years,” Alan promptly replied.
Judy’s an extrovert. I like her anyway, but she’s constantly bringing flyers for some event, ideas for meeting at the farmer’s market, or the news that next week is Juneteenth. To her extrovert mind, a street festival’s booths and bands and people packed in like sardines means coming earlier and staying later. Phil immediately says, “we won’t be here next Saturday, then.”
No longer surprised by our introvert attitude—she’s heard this response from us before—Judy remains undeterred. Clearly, we need to get out more. It’s her mission to see that we do. That goes for Jerry too. Kyle, DiAnne and John do fine on their own.
Chloe is a lovely Cleo Parker Robinson dancer who worked at the coffee shop through her pregnancy. We’d met the baby, but recently she walked in with a toddler. Transformations of children you rarely see are miraculous: that baby became a stunning little boy in two blinks. “He’s going to be a heartbreaker,” I gushed. Just then Ryan’s brother Donovan walked past, wagging an admonishing finger: “He’s spoken for.” Chloe smiled. “Donovan wants him for his daughter. It’ll be an arranged marriage.”
This coffee klatch has evolved from a casual gathering to a commitment. Now when you’re not going to attend you have to let the others know. That could be my fault. One morning I accused John and DiAnne of having been absent. “That’s right,” they replied, readily admitting their guilt. “You’ll have to bring an excuse next time,” I snapped. Once a teacher, always a teacher.
We spend a lot of time in what Phil calls echo conversations: liberal Democrats all, we rant against Trump. Did you hear what he said about Brexit? Pathetic. John Oliver said if he’d just breathed into the microphone it would have been more information. We’re a pandemonium of parrots on such topics.
Our neighborhood conversations have evolved. In the early 2000s they were like, you know, that Victorian square on the corner with the metal porch columns? Oh, that one. I hate those columns. Did the cops come? Now our conversations are mainly, did you see the particleboard mini-mansion they’re building on that lot? Modernistas in the midst of Queen Annes. Disgusting.
Phil and I may be introverts, but we’re still human and hence social. I read somewhere that even seeing people once a week improves spirits. Saturday morning coffee has for decades helped do that for us. Or maybe for ten years.