January 12, 2012

Hot Drinks on a Cold Day

The snow covered the ground in a thin sheet, rippling with every sharp agitation by the wind. The customers sunk their hands in to pockets, clenched every fiber, and did their best imitation of a turtle, sans shell. Once inside, they relaxed, released their bodies from the rigid slump. Their mouths opened, exhaled, and the red slowly dissipated from their faces.

"Whoo", they said. "It's cold out there."

It's a funny thing, weather, so obvious and yet omnipresent fodder for discussion. And so I obliged, answering that yes, it was, and that I was quite glad to be stationed behind an espresso machine, preparing hot drinks for those less fortunately positioned.

We read from our scripts, delivering lines with no particular elan. After all, we'd played this scene before, and so many times. This was a familiar stage, with no audience save ourselves. A rehearsal, then, everything said with an implied wink and nod, everyone involved in actualizing the fiction acutely aware of the process.

But the cold was not a prop, nor were the drinks meant to remedy it. And neither, of course, was the process of making the drinks a practiced mime. These things were all real, and lent a touch of substance to words that might otherwise have been ethereal.

It was cold, yes, no less so for being stated so frequently, or so needlessly. And the drinks were every bit as comforting, warming to those receiving and preparing them. The tangible, grounding words and sentiments, masking the cliche.

It's cold out there. A good day for coffee.

Yes, of course. And the sun rises in the morning, sets in the evening. And yet, that perpetual truth loses none of its splendor. A sunrise or sunset can still move a person that has seen countless, a red or purple protrusion in to the atmosphere eliciting a sense of childlike wonder.

So yes, it's cold out there. Yes, it's a good day for coffee. These words, these facts, the smiles as people clench their cups, strip away whatever cynicism I might have. It skirts the surface of my conscience like the snow on the sidewalk outside, and is quickly discarded with a sharp gust of something that should - but simply cannot - feel like a mere cliche.

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