Conversations in the Cafe

OK. So I had the weirdest conversation of my entire life (so far) a couple of weeks ago. (And that includes the time I sat next to the guy who was stabbed seven times at a local 7-11 and lived to tell me the tale as we rode the #1 bus downtown together.)

I am sitting, minding my own business, surfing the internet. A young man who is covering for a friend at this Cafe that I frequent sits down at my table. I look up, somewhat annoyed at the disturbance, but attempting to seem friendly. Don’t ask me why. He says, “So are you not a grad student?” Without judgement on this inane comment, I reply, “Yes, I am, but I am done with class for today.” He asks about my course of study and tells me some about his and then he says, “So did you have a good Valentine’s Day? Did you have a valentine?” At which point I (very maturely, I think) control the laughter bubbling up and respond that I have a husband, so I had a de facto Valentine, although he was working so we didn’t do anything to celebrate. He deflates a little and steers this (now pointless for both of us) conversation back to grad school and what comes after. When I mention that I taught 7th and 8th grade English, he becomes very still, and in a slightly shaky (and is that a higher register?) voice, he asks, “Um, here in Austin?”

Friends, I am ashamed to say that I could not resist maintaining the silence while I gave him a level stare and then laughing out loud for just the briefest moment before I released him from the uncomfortable notion that he had just made a pass at one of his former teachers.

He visibly relaxed and reported that he did once have a class with a former teacher, but she did not recognize him. A few more minutes of hearing about his miserable Jr. High life and then finally a customer came, and he walked back to the counter.

I was worn out by the twist and turn of it, though I had hardly contributed to the conversation at all.

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