The coffee cup, saucer, and sugar tube are all matching black with white edges. The cup says "florio," the saucer says "il caffé degli amatori," and the sugar tube says both. The corner of my table is crudely painted with the number 13 in white -- I'm not sure if it is bad luck to sit at a number 13 table, but I have not felt any ill effects yet. The number of the table next to me is even messier, and though it seems like it should be table 12 (the next pair of tables in front of me are 14 and 15), it looks more like a very splotchy 11. There is no ashtray on my table or the adjacent one, but most pairs of tables sport at least one green "Loburg" ashtray. The table tops are marbled brown with scarred wooden edges, the chairs have dark olive green/brown seat and back cushions, and the vinyl back cushion of the chair catty-cornered from me has split corners. My back is to a windowed wall, and I sit on a couch with upholstery matching the chairs. Down at the end of the tables and windows in front of me, a young woman dials a number on her cell phone and holds it to her ear. The window-wall she sits next to is at an angle to mine, so I see her side and back.
There is a morning radio show playing with a lot of talk and some bad kareoke from random callers interspersed with current pop hits. The songs are mostly in English, more on the hip-hop side, and so far have included Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson. The waiter is very carefully setting the tables now with white tablecloths and tan paper mats. He is taking his time, and his effort to place the forks exactly right gives him the semblance of having a slight obsessive-compulsive disorder. Lights hang down from the ceiling with spherical bulbs housed in half-sphere marbled beige and peach shades.
Outside, pigeons strut to and fro on the sidewalk, dodging pedestrians. One little guy walks all the way across the street and makes it without any help from his wings. In the cold wind, the edge of the café awning flaps.
NOTE: I went back a year later to get a photo of this café, and the place has been hollowed out. The name of the café is still on the awning, but the work crews inside seem bent on turning it into something else entirely.
Copyright © 2003 David Sadegh.
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