I do not recall when I first noticed him, except I do remember why. He was sitting opposite me, hunched on a book and a notepad, drinking an espresso and toying with a tall latte to-go. What struck me, of course, was neither the espresso, nor the latte, but the intent look with which he was reading and taking notes. In fact, was he taking notes? I couldn’t tell. Perhaps he was getting inspiration from that book or perhaps he was doing what I do, writing quotations so that he could get back to them later. Maybe he was reading the book but writing about something else entirely. Perhaps it was just a to-do list or, worse, a supermarket one and I am just romanticising it all.
But then I resolved it couldn’t be just a list because this guy is coming to Starbee almost daily to write lists while reading a different book each time. I know it’s none of my business but you must understand that when I see someone who gives me an inkling that he could be even vaguely just like me, my antennas start twitching. Who is he? What does he do? What does he like to read? What has he got to write all the time? I am interested. No, I am not interested, I am dying to know.
Notably, I caught his eye too. It could be all down to my staring, of course. As surreptitious as I may think my gaze to be, in truth it poses itself on him and tends to stay there and then moves from book to notepad to espresso to him back to book back to him and so on and so forth. It is thus that our eyes have met on more than a couple of occasions. There I am, thinking that he may be a stifled creative and there he is, probably wondering why the fuck is that woman staring and why is she in here every day, hasn’t she got a job?
Last week I resolved to talk to him. In fact, I even asked for advice from Rick who, as any other straight male out there, just isn’t very good at advice. ‘Talk to him’ was the suggestion, as he obviously doesn’t understand the ins-and-outs of male/female dynamics. I have often stricken passing conversations with women at Starbucks.
Only last week I gushed over somebody’s ‘fab teal coat’ which I squealed in her direction and sure enough I was informed that it was a great buy, and three years old to boot and a pure cashmere one at that and doesn’t it still look great? Doesn’t it just, it was lovely. But now imagine that there is this man sitting next to me, someone I see often for he comes to Starbee for his lunch, often accompanied by an older colleague. Yes, imagine this guy sitting next to me, reading the news on his phone like he was doing today and me edging over to quip: ‘I love your pinstriped suit’. Pwhoooar. Are you smiling at this point? Maybe even laughing? Well, MY POINT EXACTLY. You just don’t strike a convo with members of the opposite sex if you’re a woman. Period.
What am I supposed to do with my guy? Sidle over and whisper: ‘I was just wondering what you’ve been writing for the past four months?’. Now that’s a possibility, even though I concede that I may scare him off and he may never return to Starbee at lunchtime which would then suit everyone involved. But I just don’t think this would be the case because something of note happened last week, when I left Starbee and him in it, went to Waterstone’s for a mindless browse and crossed paths with him as I was leaving. At that point he smiled at me, in that I-am-not-sure-whether-you-noticed-but-I-also-always-see-you-in-Starbucks-and-I-am-not-sure-whether-I-should-have-smiled-at-all-because-I-don’t-really-know-you way.
I left Waterstone’s grinning to myself. This guy also wants to talk to me. So it was that on Monday I plonked myself there early in the morning to work. By the time he arrived, some bastards were sat in the table next to mine and he couldn’t sit anywhere. Waving at him with a grin and pointing at the free chair at my table seemed a little forward considering that we don’t even know each other’s names. Heck, I’ve never even heard his voice. So he left with his to-go and that was that. Yesterday I skipped and today he skipped. And that’s that about The Starbucks Guy for now.
I am still kicking myself over that one occasion weeks ago when we were sitting next to each other and he was reading and writing... but I was so immersed in the crap I was editing that by the time I realised it was him, he was packing his stuff and going. Well, whatever it takes, I am gonna have to do as Rick says and just talk to him. Watch this space.