Some people go to the movies, but I go to Café Stella. Primarily, I go because it is an excellent place to people watch and be entertained for free, and secondarily, because it’s one of few coffee shops that isn’t out to rob you by charging four bucks for a small cup of regular coffee. Café Stella requires less than two bucks for a cuppa—with tax—which is more than fair.
Café Stella is entertaining because it’s a radical change from my nine-to-five. I work at a Christian school, so I don’t encounter a lot of people who my mom calls “characters” unless I got to the Walmart on Military Highway. The faculty and staff I work with are quirky, to be sure, but it’s the sort of weirdness associated with intellectuals who have spent a ton of time studying. At school, here are very few tattoos, few rebellious piercings, and no radical hairdos and outfits. But, at Café Stella, there’s an abundance of people who fascinate me.
Today, I snagged the only free table. It’s positioned beside one table, similar to mine and catty corner from another, small around table. Two sets of dudes speaking languages I don’t know sit these tables table. The two guys on my left are wearing stripped, long-sleeved shirts, and I wonder if they such good friends that they find themselves wearing the similar outfits without consulting the other first. They might be speaking Arabic, but it’s hard to tell over the music and their rapid-fire conversation. The dude wearing blue stripes has a beard that’s growing in nice and bushy-like. He seems to have an affinity for Motown, which is playing on the speakers. He dances enthusiastically in his chair. I imagine a group of us starting a Soul Train right in the middle of Café Stella, but most of the tonight’s crowd seems pretty studious.
I’m fairly certain that the other guys are speaking Russian or some similar Eastern European language. One guy is short and slim; the other is short and stubby. They both have their MacBooks out, but I’m pretty sure the slim guy isn’t getting much done because he gets up every few minutes to get a pot of tea, to get something he forgot for the tea, to put the tea pot away, and probably, to go to the bathroom.
After a while, a tall, slim dude in a royal blue hoodie enters. I try to decipher the white design on his hoodie, but he sees me staring, and I pretend that he entered as I was thinking deep thoughts in the direction of the front entrance.
The guy in the hoodie looks like a lot like the pictures of the blond Jesus, except his hair is brown and rather wavy. He has a goatee-beard-ish thing, and he looks as if one parent is white and the other is not because he has a bit of an ambiguous ethnic look about him. I wonder if people tell him that he looks like Jesus because if he put on strappy, leather sandals, a long, flowing garment, and draped a scarf around his shoulders, he would look a lot the popular image of Christ.
Blue hoodie walks over to the guys who might be from the Middle East and starts stroking the head of the guy who is wearing the light blue stripes. I look at him, and he’s staring at me again. I look away and keep typing, secretly savoring the adorable display of bromance.
Blue hoodie takes a seat with his friends, and I soon realize while, phenotypically, he resembles the popular Jesus, but he doesn’t sound a bit like him. He says the F word about every other sentence and takes the Lord’s name in vain.
Sometimes, on the inside, I want to be radical. Get a tattoo, sport a nose ring, dye my hair purple or blue, and wear ripped jeans. But I’ve concluded that that style is never going to be my style. I’m not going to say the F word a lot, and I prefer not to take the Lord’s name in vain. So, instead, I go to Café Stella and park myself somewhere with a pot of Early Grey, where I pretend to read or two write, but in reality, I’m watching my neighbors and observing their ways of life.