or, "Hanging out in a European Café."

Laura and I had an early morning meeting at a Cyber Cafe here in
Puerto Rico, in Rio Piedras. We arrived early because traffic was
light due to the day of remembrance for President Ronald Reagan.
What are we going to do for half an hour in Rio
Piedras, we asked ourselves?

"You know it kinda feels like we’re in a small European town
square," Laura remarked.

"Yeah," I said, "If you cover your eyes, your ears,
your nose, and your sense of aesthetic." I chuckled at my own
joke. Laura didn’t laugh. I repeated it in a lame attempt to get a
smile at least. She giggled slightly.

Then, in her ever indomitable spirit of can-do, she stated, "Let’s
see if there’s a coffee shop." We took a couple of steps up the
block, passed a stray dog, a homeless man, a coin operated laundry
mat, and abandoned our search.

"Hmmm, Europe, you say?" I chuckled again.

"Let’s check behind this street. I ambled off at Laura’s
heels like the dutiful dog that I am. It was eight in the morning
and already it was hot. I began to sweat as we walked across a large
parking lot to an adjacent street. "Hey, this looks promising,"
Laura said, nodding toward a corner café.

"Yeah and as we walk in, I hope we
don’t startle the grizzled old woman as she finishes her cigarette in
her nightgown." It looked like that kind of

Once we stepped inside, the atmosphere
changed. Gone were my visions of an old woman in her pajamas with a
shotgun and a cigarette clenched between her teeth. No, they were
replaced by the cold grim reality of a couple of college kids in a
sparsely established tiny corner student hangout dump.

"Well, we’re here, I guess. What
should we have?" I mused. I checked out the selection. "Let’s
get quesitos and coffee. That okay with you?"

"Sure." I ordered two
expresos (that’s espresso in Spanish for you snobs out there), and two cream cheese pastry
rolls. We scoped out a clean table near a window with decent chairs
and sat down. We were then next to the street
in front of a large glass window. As the second homeless man passed,
Laura remarked.

"Don’t you just have the feel of a
European café nestled here against the window gazing at the
street?" She started to laugh.

"You know I like hanging out with
you, Laura. We should do these mini dates more often. I’m having
fun in my European café."

Laura started laughing harder and a
tear formed in her eye. "And you know if we put chairs out on
the sidewalk we could drink in the rich aroma of urine." She
started to lose it in a giggle fit, mascara streaming down here face.

With a flick of my wrist and a wistful
French flourish I sighed, "Aahh," and sat back in an
artful recline. Laura could not contain herself as she turned into a
hapless puddle of giggles and tears. She could barely sip her coffee
and eat her pastry. We commented on the buildings, how wonderfully
artful they were, with their square corners covered in mold and
pealing paint, and their imaginative shapes, concrete boxes stacked
one on top of each other for as far as the eye could see.

"This is the
life," I said. "An eternity of European cafes couldn’t replace this one moment I’ve spent with you, my dear."