Coffee, Quiet, and Cards (ENGL 304 Creative Nonfiction Writing Blog #1: A Scene)

It’s quiet tonight in this little mom and pop-themed coffee shop nestled between Starbucks and a New York-style pizzeria.

The 50s rock music murmurs softly through the speakers in a sort of half-hearted attempt to set the mood for a Friday night, but to no avail. The coffee connoisseur next to me pitter-patters between her iPhone and laptop, while the older woman to my left traces each line of her paperback. An elderly couple on the couch sits closely to each other, yet somehow distanced by their respective reading material. Even the two baristas sense the placidness of the place, alternating from updating their Twitter accounts to spiritedly debating over whose beard is the superior one.

A woman at the counter taps on the glass display, pointing to the cookie she wants. A different barista quickly takes her order, seeming relieved to have something to do other than rearrange the boxed salads for the umpteenth time.

Two decorative street signs painted with the names “Montecito” and “Baldwin” loom overhead. Perhaps they point to better days, when the threat of Ebola didn’t grace the inside of the Los Angeles Times like the one resting on my coffee table.

Underneath the vintage Coca-Cola sign, fresh pots of organic coffee replace the old. Can you really taste the difference between organic and non-organic? I don’t ask. Across the room, I notice a shelf filled with a generous assortment of board games – Scrabble, Stratego, and Sorry! – that have probably gone untouched for awhile. A young girl, possibly in third grade sits at a table with her back to the games, eyes glued to her phone screen.

Another vintage sign reads, “HELP WANTED: Men & Women for Essential War Work – Inquire 41 Goodell St.” A 20-something young man and his girlfriend who have just sauntered in now occupy the table under the sign, setting up a game of Black Jack. A man at the adjacent table smiles occasionally, overhearing the girlfriend playfully argue the rules when it’s evident beginner’s luck will not be making an appearance in this card game.

“Oh fine!” she sighs, relinquishing her cards to her boyfriend. A few more shuffles of the deck, and a rematch is in order. The shop won’t close for another two hours – sufficient time for her to garner a win.


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