Where Men Gather

By, Timber Jones

There are many important matters to be settled at the coffee shop this morning.  Before sunrise, someone needs to solve the riddles set before us.  The one I have posed involves three lines.  Can you draw three separate lines without lifting the writing tip from the paper?  It seems that the wit of the regulars is more suited to solving the world’s problems than silly riddles that frustrate us more than give our intelligence hope.  But not Tavo, nope, Tavo is turning the paper into an accordion and is desperately trying to hang on to his integrity.  I tell him that he’s on the right track, but not quite there yet.  He finally concedes and I show him the trick.  He sneers at me, shakes his head, then goes back to the kitchen.

In the meantime, the other regulars have moved on to more important matters.  On the train that is our conversation, masks turn into communism, which leads to dogs, then to a brief pause to see what’s on the television, then back to communism….or was it seed planting?  Wherever it leads, the conversation never seems to get old or to stop.

When things get rough is when Buddy the Milkman enters.  Verbal jabs turn into full on assaults,comebacks, and even better comebacks, then to laughable insults.  His assistant quietly snickers in the background trying to be loyal to his “boss”, but knows that we regulars are more finely tuned to ribbing each other.  Maybe he is quiet because he is learning the trade.

Sal must have turned the heat on high, because I begin to sweat at this point.  Schaff suggests that perhaps it’s the 12 cups of coffee that I’ve already had.  He may be right, but he is as cool and dry as can be.

The counter begins to buzz again with talk of the state of the Country and we almost have the answers to what ails us.  Bill pipes in from the background table with his two cents, which is worth a whole lot more at the coffee shop than in congress.  When, I wonder, is the last time a politician drank bottomless drip coffee surrounded by regulars with all the answers?

Ron chimes in with not politics, but with a more-than-slightly-off-colored joke.  It’s worth a good chuckle.

Schaff tells the sad-eyed waitress that he enjoys her smile and instantly her eyes go glad and her smile becomes more authentic.  Schaff can work wonders like that.

As the early morning creeps along, more regulars and less regulars come in and find their spots.  The order bell rings more often and daylight fills more of the room.  Morning bones are harder to get off the stool at the counter, but, after all, we can’t stay all day.  The problems of the world will most likely still be around tomorrow and we can give solving them the old college try then.  Schaff and I take our hats from the hat rack and head outside where we inevitably find more to talk about.  That’s okay though, because this is what it’s like whenever and wherever men happen to gather.