I’m not a deep person. Having to look inside myself and rummage around until I pull out a trinket of wisdom just does not come easily. But I guess insight is not something you can work at really, it just comes naturally. One thing I do know is coffee and where to buy the best of the best. And its here I sit in my favorite downtown coffee place, in my usual corner, my frosty attitude melting with aroma of hazelnut and espresso, knuckles kneading my forehead, and waiting for some airhead teenager to bring me my cup. Sure enough, a white mousse-haired college kid came whizzing over, sloshing my order in his wake, and set it down on my spindly-legged table. I didn’t acknowledge him. Then he said, “You did want your coffee black right?” The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them, “Black? Are there any other colors?” The silence stretched out like taffy; the ghost of a laugh on my lips and his just lapsed into a shocked “O”. The awkwardness sank in as the black joke made by a black woman sank with it. We stared at each other and suddenly every physical difference was pronounced: his light blue eyes versus my hard and dark ones, the acne and freckles dotting his face while mine was smooth but strained, and his hair straight and smooth while mine was riddled with kinks. But the funny thing is, neither one of us seemed superior to the other. I felt no hatred or shame in his presence, and as I looked into this kid’s eyes I detected no hostility or arrogance he felt in mine. Even with the generation gap between us, we were still just a man and a woman, one white and one black. So what. Suddenly, the world around us resumed and each of us cracked a smile that charmed away our silly differences a moment ago. He said, “This isn’t Skittles, you can’t taste the rainbow.” I shook my head still grinning. “Then throw some in there and I’ll see if I can.” This time we both laughed for real and he took back my cup and went to fill my new order. When he came back, he slid my cup of black coffee and Skittles onto my table, put his fingers to his lips and said “Bon appetite!” We laughed at the absurdity of it all before he left to serve other customers. I stirred my order and watched as the flavoring of the Skittles mixed in with the heat of the black coffee. The world no doubt had changed. Without even knowing it I had ordered a reality check in my sanctuary coffeehouse, and now I raised it to my lips and drank it in.
Faith's Wake Up Call
January 28, 2011