From the back of the line inside a trendy, suburban Starbucks, I had a vantage point to observe the scene and plenty of time to do it.
A young couple stood face to face in front of me. His cream colored sweater emitted the scent of a spicy cologne. Her soft, strawberry-blond curls were tousled and the front of the locks around her face were anchored into place with a bobby pin or two.
Photo by DeusXFlorida – via Flickr, some rights reserved.
His shiny clean face smiled intermittently toward her soft, honey tinged and translucent face, sans any hint of makeup.
My brain classified tha=eir appearances as a “Ginger” and a “Frenchman.” His lightly tinted olive skin and black hair were shiny, too, with freshly applied hair product topping off this perfectly trimmed cut.
Her manner was genteel; his was suave, but matter-of-fact. My gaze left their image long before their gaze would leave each other.
As I looked toward the table section, I spied a deja vu. Same coloring, but drastically rearranged.
In the corner table by the shelves full of coffee products for sale sat a Ginger and a Frenchman. She was tiny and her legs dangled from her chair while her neck strained to reach the tip of a straw poking from her orange juice container. Her honey shaded, translucent face was kissed completely with a soft dusting of freckles.
She guided her tiny index finger over a reserve of crumbs on the table, then pressed it down over the morsels until they attached. Once in place, the crumbs were brought to her mouth and sucked off her finger with a giggle as she directed a sideways glance at her Frenchman father.
His shiny black hair stood in contrast to his cream colored, long sleeved crew neck jersey shirt. His new jeans and Doc Martins polished off his casual and cool look, in contrast to his daughter’s scuffed boots, wrinkled tights and print skirt that hung below the table…never still, always shifting.
She showed him her clean finger, as if she had gotten away with breaking table manners and giggled again. The delightful, five year-old tone carried across the coffee house and lifted the mood of the room.
“Yer cruisin’ for a bruisin’, sissy” he said as he leaned toward her – a gentle, menacingly tease behind his mannerisms.
Her body jerked upright ever so slightly as she bounded in joyful response to his corrective message. Her eyes crinkled into an elfin response as her tiny voice said, “YOU are cruisin’ for a bruisin’, daddy!” Peels of laughter followed as she delighted in this adult-child dance that was safe and warm.
The exchange meant the opposite of the actual text of their interplay. The message was the paradoxical example of what humans would say if they meant:
You’re breaking protocol; remember your manners. I love you, and you’re safe with me.
Sometimes breaking manners is fun if the time and place is right. I love you back. Thank you for allowing me to be safe with you.
My gaze left the daddy-daughter duo and returned to the young lovers. She was teasing him about something and touched his shoulder. Her eyes crinkled into an elfin grin, and he responded by pulling her toward him then kissing her forehead.
I pondered the example set before me of a daddy-daughter breakfast date impacting the ability to interact and trust in later-life relationships. I wondered what scene might be created by a Ginger mommy and a Frenchman son within the same context. Then I considered how I grow in trusting humanity by observing these moments…
Then, I ordered my coffee.
Postscript: I didn’t have my phone or camera with me, so I was searching through Flickr for an open-license photo of Starbucks when I came across this video. A minute-long glimpse into human interaction within a coffee shop.