I am really enjoying my time here at home. As evidenced in my previous entry, I've been seeing every friend I have in the Twin Cities, and tomorrow I head to the northern suburbs to spend the holidays with my family. Exited to see them, I must confess.
I'm in a different coffee shop today. One of my favourite things about the US is that it is filthy with neighbourhood coffee shops and cafes that have free wireless internet. This particular one is in an area full of starter homes (1920's bungalows) that people in my relative generation have snatched up in an affordable housing frenzy. It's kind of near the Mississippi River, and it's full of cute little shops and restaurants that appeal to the average thirty-something with moderate disposable income and upwardly mobile tastes. This particular coffee shop seems to be the official meeting place for several Mommy/Daddy/Me groups, where the toddlers race cars and run around and build things with blocks and the parents try to have intelligent conversation whilst keeping one eye on the kids to ensure no one puts something metal in an outlet or bonks their head on the hard concrete floor.
Eavesdropping is one of my hobbies, and this is a great place to do this. Lots of people here don't know each other well, but they're trying to be nice to the parent/uncle/grandparent of the toddler their toddler is playing with. My conclusion: these poor people need to get out more.
I've fixated on one guy who has one volume of his voice (super-loud), and he has lots of lame opinions to express. (To be fair, many of the other grownups have stopped talking, since he's sucking all the air out of the place.) He looks like an extra in Yentl, if you cut the earlocks, replaced the yamulke with a newsboy cap, and the wool suit with wide-wale corduroys and a sweater vest. He has a donkey laugh, bless him, and he obviously has had some trouble fitting in in his life. When I first sat down, he was on about how British people are much more interesting than Americans. I came late, so not sure how he got on this topic, but it's all I can do not to jump in and give him my two cents. (They're not more interesting, they're just different. We're fat...they've got bad teeth. We read People, they read Heat. We say cookies, they say biscuits. Same story different day. And we both talk about the weather too much.) He's one of those typical guys who's decided that Europeans are better just because they're not from here. I'm here to tell you that's just not so. They're just like us, with different food and smaller cars. I'm sick of people who've never lived in Europe telling me how much better it is. Personally, I'm currently reveling in every dependable toilet flush and non-scalding shower, because I've not seen either of these in six months.
I'm naming this guy Lenny. Lenny is now reading Thomas the Tank Engine. It's a story about wanting to travel and see the world. He's using voices (that all sound like Droopy Dog.) He's making his child do the alphabet dance. The kids are named Arlo and Miles. Arlo seems to have a little crush on me, as he keeps coming over and giving me a big shy-boy smile. I hope Arlo grows up with more nuance than his dad.
Lenny is now talking about tea. Please stop talking about tea, Lenny. The Brits drink tea, but that doesn't make it holy. It is just an alternative to coffee.
OOOH! Now it's all about Boxing Day. Hmmmm...what next? Will we talk of bumbershoots? Will Arlo say zed instead of zee in his alphabet dance? Perhaps he'll tell us he prefers roundabouts to stoplights?
I think it's time to move on. I'll try another coffee shop and see what they're talking about there.