what follows is a complete fabrication. from any way you look at it. but it was fun to write from both sides.
I was sitting in my favorite spot at the coffee shop, (you know, the one, right near my house) which is the seat at the table right in the window, which is perfect for people watching. You can watch everyone who comes in, you've got a good view of the kids behind the counter, and you can even peek out the window at the bus stop right in front. Anyway, I was sitting there, drinking coffee and reading a book—or more accurately, staring out into the rain with a book on the table in front of me—when I noticed this kid walk up to the bus stop. Well, not a child, a young adult. A cute boy, in fact, which is what made me notice him. He had on grey tennis shoes, blue jeans, a black shirt under a grey hoodie under a blue jacket, and a black messenger bag all of which seemed to be getting pretty well soaked. The hood was up but his dark bangs were still wet enough to drip onto his pale cheekbone. His hands were deep in his jacket pockets and, shoulders hunched, he looked pretty miserable out there in the wet day.
He joined the small group of people standing in different attitudes of waiting, looked with kind eyes and a tiny half-smile at the lady nearest him, then backed up when her man kinda got in his face, leaning in and putting his arm around her, not so much in a marking territory sort of way, but more as if protecting her from something distasteful. I found myself frowning at this treatment, now too invested in random strangers to go back to my book.
I watched him check his phone as if it were a pocket watch, wiping the raindrops from his eyebrows, his starry eyelashes shadowing the tops of his cheeks. I averted my eyes as he turned towards the door and came into the shop, presumably to keep dry and avail himself of the bus tracker display screen mounted on the wall above the coffee grinder (This bit of technological brilliance was something I was excited to use as the winter progressed). He stepped up to the counter about 15 feet away from me and ordered a coffee to go. His voice was a husky tenor though it sounded like he favored the low end of his range, maybe in order to seem older. He looked like a student, though was almost certainly of drinking age. Maybe a grad student. I wondered if he was a TA and had a hard time maintaining authority.
His features were fine (like a pen with a fine tip), not to the point of delicate, but bordering on pretty. He had a straggly mustache and a congregation of hairs on his chin that were not quite the beginnings of a beard, as young, not particularly hairy, men sometimes do. His face was devoid of baby fat, but still had that 'fresh faced youth' thing going for it. His hands were long but not broad, showing strength without muscle, and stayed active without appearing fidgety. When he pushed his hood back I was somewhat shocked to see his hair was already greying.
“what's with the throwback jams? Every time I'm in here this week you are playing old-school stuff. Yesterday you played some Phish, today, it's OK Computer. Reminds me of college...” he addressed the shrugging barista as he received his cup.
“you are so not that old!” It came out of my mouth before I had time to stop it shut.
He looked over at me, startled, with a broadening lopsided grin. “thirty-three last week.”
“shut the front door!” I probably looked as shocked as I felt cuz he chuckled as I shut my mouth. I opened it again to say, “I would have guessed about ten years younger.”
“yeah, standard. My theory is that will happen to me until I go truly grey, which will be in just a couple years. Then everyone will guess ten years older.” he shook his head in a resigned but amused way.
“but how do you do it?” I wondered aloud.
“do it? I don't do anything. I just am. It's what you see that does it.” while speaking that pretty boy's entire face broke into the most radiant smile, white teeth showing, rosy cheek apples making crescent moons out of twinkling, laughing eyes. Her merriment was plainly beautiful and my flustered wonder was trumped by the contagiousness of it. I smiled back and laughed. Mostly at myself. We just looked at each other for a moment, then I received a subtle and, I must say, somewhat flirtatious wink as the damp hood was pulled back into place. And then a quick checking of the bus tracker one last time and a mumbled, “have a nice day” before the door opened to let out this random stranger and let in the cool damp outside air. As it hit my face I realized I was blushing.