Working in a coffee shop guarantees you’ll get three things: free coffee (or in my case tea), a few skin burns from working in close quarters with piping hot machinery, and numerous unsolicited advances from customer Casanovas who aim to woo you with that one brilliant pickup line.
As a barista off and on for over six years, I was approached by quite an array of misguided lotharios, but the spazzy and off-color flocked to me like cartoon bears to honey. “You are like a beautiful … tablecloth,” said one hemp-necklaced crooner. “I’ll be your table if you’ll be my chair,” said another. One nebbishy hobbit-man offered me fruit juice–sweetened cookies and carob chips from his jacket after christening me “M’lady,” Don Quixote style. Strangely, none of these sweet nothings won me over. The coffee-shop approach that truly made my knees buckle consisted of little more than a look.
Kenton was a customer at my shop. He claims he was a regular, but I didn’t notice him until the morning he walked up to my register, looked straight into my eyes, and smiled. He placed his order and gave me his money. When he was done, he didn’t move. Instead, he stared—and smiled. He just kept looking at me. He perhaps wanted to say more, but out of his mouth: nothing. The line was piling up behind him. My heart began to race and my thoughts got jumbled; this was different. He didn’t call me a tablecloth, he didn’t try to force-feed me carob chips, he just looked in my eyes; he was hopeful, gentle, utterly lacking in bravado, adoring, and adorable. He was both terrified and unafraid, and he wasn’t getting out of my line.
I severed the awkward “Dreamweaver” moment, and walked over to the bar to make his drink. When he left, my always-eavesdropping coworker turned to me, hands on hips, and asked, “What was that?!” “I don’t know!” I replied, thoroughly disoriented.
I chalked it up to a fleeting missed connection until a month later when my boss asked me to train a new employee. “I think you’ll really like him,” she said. Kenton walked in with an apron in hand and a smile on his face. I was charmed, but didn’t put the pieces together until he informed me that I had indeed seen him before. Oh. My knees buckled again. That morning three years ago, I taught him how to make coffee; we’ve been dating ever since.
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