The Lisping Barista at the Epiphany Cafe


The young woman miraculously said yes to the Geeky Guy.

I’m sorry to have to start in the middle of the story like this, but you should be used to it by now. In real life, stories always start in the middle. When you were born, the tale had already begun. It’ll continue after you die. At times it will seem to go on without you, even if you think you’re still alive.

Then there will be times when your story seems to go nowhere. It had been like that for me. I was a forgotten novel in a drawer, a half told tale, a shaggy dog that lost the scent. My life had stopped while my author went on a long digression, a parenthetical parable, a superfluous sermon. He piled and piled metaphors on me till I couldn’t move. Alliterated allusions abated my breath. I was sitting there, waiting for an editor to cross me out. But then something happened. Some may call it inspiration, others might say it was transformation, still others believe in transubstantiation; I like to think of it as a revelation. I was cut and pasted, rearranged, restated, and put where I belong. I found myself at the Epiphany Cafe, overhearing a fetching young woman miraculously say yes.

By outward appearances, it looked like a perfectly ordinary coffee shop. Not the kind from your parent’s generation where the buxom waitress calls you honey; but of the class of expensive whipped concoctions, hip baristas, and scribes arrayed at table tops, heads down into their manuscripts. A place where no one knows your name, but they know how you like your latte. Please don’t imagine it was a chain: a Starbucks, Seattle’s best, Tim Horton’s or Dunkin Donuts. It was one of a kind. It could be anywhere, but you could never open one again, anywhere else. It was at the perfect location: the intersection of Inspiration and Perspiration; over by where you get off, and on, the Ego Highway; before you get to those housing tracts, where every where looks the same.

The young woman was the conductor of the espresso machine, standing where she always stood, when the Geeky Guy approached her. She was a craftsman of crushed beans, an artisan of whipped milk, a master of macchiato; and she also crushed, whipped, and mastered our hearts. Women and men, we arranged our laptops so we could peer over and watch. She was a clash of artistry and awkwardness, bangles and chains, purity and piercings. She had enough tattoos so that, if you knew the language, you could read her life. By means of the cuts on her arms you could see right into her and know she was in pain. You would just want to take care of her, but there was a counter in the way. The closest you would get would be the tip jar, which overflowed when she was on shift. But then the Geeky Guy, who no one expected, rose up, went forth, and asked her out on a date. He suggested coffee, which didn’t seem bizarre till later, and she said, so that we all could hear, yes.

To be precise, with her pierced tongue, it sounded more like, “Yeth.” That’s why I call her the Lisping Barista.

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S. Harry Zade

Writing a blog keeps me alive.

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