There’s an older woman I see at Starbucks in the morning that makes me take pause. Imagine The Rocky Horror Show 35 years later. She’s made up like a courtesan…lips red, cheeks rouged, with frizzy, stringy hair crisscrossing her face like strands of barbed wire.
To sum it up…it’s not too pretty, plus she’s very short, gazing up like a painted troll. She arrives seconds after me with hordes of shopping bags arranging them around her chair as though she were having a sale. I’ve tried not to look, but like a bad accident, can’t look away.
So there we were, the first two customers waiting for the bitchy barista to saddle up, when the woman appears not to have enough money to cover her coffee. She starts digging in her purse, beginning to panic. Now she comes in every day, so when she asks, could I pay you tomorrow, and the counter girl says no, I’m shocked.
“How shy is she?” I ask. Clearly no English major, the girl looks at me confused.
“Short, how short is she for her coffee?” I watch her count the change.
“That’s it? I will pay for her.”
At this point the painted lady says, “No, it’s okay. I’ll go to the cash machine.” Did I mention it’s pouring? Despite being in her 70s, as I look down at her, she has a childlike quality one can’t miss. I couldn’t help feeling, if she were a little easier on the eye, the girl might have been kinder.
“If I was a little short,” I ask her, “would you help me?” Without hesitating she says, “Yes., of course I would.”
“Well that’s settled then.” As snotty took my twenty I say, “Next time, try not to humiliate someone for fifty-four cents, okay?”
If looks could kill, I would have been under the bus speeding down Lex.