Anorexic Coffee Shops


San Francisco cafe restaurant

I stepped into a new coffee shop in a nearby town, recently.

It was long and skinny – skinnier than a rail car; tighter than a kindergarten cloak room – with tiny furniture trying to be invisible, trying to make the space less narrow.

The walls were more populated with art work than the floors were with seating arrangements. While the art was fascinating, colorful, and inventive, the shop itself was white with wooden floors and neutral, hand-hewn chairs and tables.

The people were colorless: gray-haired; earthenware clothes.

No music.

Hushed conversation.

A menu of a dozen or so coffees.

One plate of freshly-baked muffins for sale by the register.

I had wanted to sit and write a spell, but, the space squeezed the air out of me.

I wasn’t able to sit down. Instead, I paced the length of the shop like a caged leopard.Leopard in the cageThen drifted outside to my car.

Not even a single word came to mind as I drove home through breathtaking, stark prairie basins outlined by volcanic mountains.

The next day, I went to my local cafe and sat in the front room with the black-and-white checked floor – the square room bursting with people – the room with multicolored tables – with windows on three sides and views of scudding clouds and jagged mountain peaks – with the waitress who is unsmiling and impatiently angry.

The patrons are pudgy and commonplace, but, they laugh and chat and wipe their plates clean with gusto.

I ordered some badass cowgirl meal: A stack of blueberry pancakes, three strips of bacon, a scrambled egg.

Part Paleo; part heart attack on a plate.

But it was delicious.

As I sank deeper into the leatherette booth, I pulled out a book and finished reading it. I wrote several pages of memoir. I won’t try to analyze this contrast, but, well-upholstered, plump cafes seem to relax and inspire me more than skinny, anxious, little rigid rooms with anorexic air.

A little fat and decadence get my creative blood flowing, ’cause, after all, my soul is lean.

Like coffee shop, like life. Try to be too perfect, too contrived and it may be suffocating.

I’m finding my silence with this.

Pray punt this inner debate?

Yea, good call.

2 responses »

  1. My husband and I visited a tony upscale coffee shop this past week. We’d read about in the newspaper, and since we really enjoy eating breakfast out, I used Father’s Day as a relevant reason to try a new spot. The decor was modern (almost a clone of your image, although darker), but the ambiance was loud. Lots of talking, laughing, and happiness surrounded us as huge platters of food were put before us. We easily could have placed an order for one menu item, shared it, and had leftovers to take home — that was how robust the servings were. And the price was modest, the service sublime, and the coffee was hmm… just so so. But here in the South, we drink iced tea primarily anyway. It seems like our newfound tony upscale coffee shop is a keeper.


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