I haven’t stepped into a restaurant or café for one and a half years. One of the first things I plan to do when the pandemic is finally over, is to sashay into a coffee shop. (Without a mask) Normally one doesn’t sashay into a chilled out informal space defined primarily by coffee and biscotti, but after the long hiatus just a casual walk-in won’t do. A swagger of some sort would do more justice to honor the moment.
There is something persuasive about a coffee shop, isn’t it? When I go on shopping jaunts, rather, when I went on shopping jaunts before lockdown, the main event was the post-shopping tryst with a Starbucks or cafetaria where I could plonk down tired but happy with all the shopping bags clubbed in heaps around my feet.
If a dictionary of “happy words,” were to be compiled, coffee shop / café would rate high. One can sit, dawdle, idle away time for hours if need be only at a joint like this.
A subtle seduction is at work. Coffee smells flamboyantly flounce around. Freshly baked bread aromas try, but graciously bow out, to the brew. There is a pleasant noisyness as a background score. The array of temptations like croissants, biscotti, cheesecakes, and cupcakes peeking from the glass counters add delicious charm to the interior landscape. The result: an unwinding zone, quasi magical, where you can give a shot at feeling happily aligned with the universe.
Have you noticed how people slip into this carefree state, suspiciously close to happiness in coffee shops?? Simply by being with friends at a table, and sipping latte? Laughter rings louder. So much so that perchance, if an alien were to train its lens on earth on them, it would infer, “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.”
Visiting a coffee shop I have always felt, what is termed as the ‘coffee shop effect’ like a tangible thing. It is the hug of a friend, a high five, a love story. Above all, It is a space, stylishly cosy for just loosening up, being relaxed and casual, no dress codes, no stiffness, only informal gassing. (Gossip is on the menu, if you wish).
Also, if there is a place where loitering is honed into a fine art it is the coffee shop. It’s a place to hang. Making some sense of the world and its problems, especially those perennial knotty ones of relationships and the like, is a wee simpler with a coffee cup in your hands and a friend across the table. Even if not sorted at least be given temporary reprieve.
Girltime and the trading of juicy stats about current status is ever on high sail here. The joy of exchanging those relevant and irrelevant tidbits from your lives is non pareil at a coffee shop. You can squeal, guffaw, be as undecorous as situation demands, without anyone batting an eyelid. Point is you don’t have to sit like mannequins. (That requirement is for the stiff starchy interiors of upper-end restaurants.)
And now here’s the funny part. Though “catching up” is great at these coffee joints, even just being alone by yourself is a tremendous feeling, on occasion. At least for me. I have always felt a peculiar joy in walking into a coffee shop alone, sitting by myself ordering my stuff and sipping it in quiet reflection and splendid isolation.The atmosphere is so cheery and congenial that it simply embraces you whether you are alone or together..
Many great writers often frequented these warm spaces with notepad and pen and imbued them with their literary charisma. James Joyce, TS Elliott, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, F Scott Fitzgerald all frequently took recourse to coffee shops and cafes to do their writing. Great ideas for literary masterpieces were brewed over a litter of endless cups of coffee. The buzz of sidewalk cafes, and their fuzzy warmth, stoked writers’ imaginations perfectly to tabulate the subtle and complex nuances of human nature.
No wonder that a coffee shop with its ambient warmth and promise of a good brew with friends or lovers, (or alone) remains unequivocally the most splendid and enduring symbol of happy spaces and camaraderie in the world.