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By Bob Webb


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      Nice day out. Pushing sixty-five degrees. Lady in pink jogging shorts attracts my attention. Proud of her legs. Looks to see who's looking. Smiles. Up on tippie-toes to leave the empty coffee cups on the counter. Not that short. Enjoying her muscles. Me, too.


      The patio tables are full, jackets coming off. One of the girls is cleaning the inside glass of the main double doors on the east end of the shop. Man comes in and points at imaginary missed spot. He smiles. She laughs. Cleans it with bunched up paper towel. No music today. CD Player off. Cash register noisier than any conversation.


      Italian man with buxom girlfriend orders drinks. Talks with the girls behind the counter for several minutes. Boisterous hand waver. The girls laugh often. His girlfriend observes with comfortable smile. They sit one table over, her back to me. Too bad. He slurps his Mocha Java for effect. She cringes. I suggest she'll have to burp him soon. He laughs and tells her he's ready. She declines.


      Serious-faced brunette with long straight hair and long, tanned athletic legs, in denim mini, comes to join her partner, faces me as she sits down at the window table. Pink socks rolled down to white tennies. Can't seem to keep her knees together when she sits. Don't think it's deliberate. Can't stop looking at her. Can't keep looking at her. She's looking at me. Intense. Some voyeur I am.  Where did the girl in pink jogging shorts get to? Gone. Up on her tippies some where else.


      I return to counter for another cup. The girls are all redheads. Nice touch. I return to my table and pick up pen. Next...


      The pattern continues. Tall readhead/blond. Short hair and headband. Standing self-assured. Direct eye contact. Probably with everyone. I write about how some people do this eye thing while others avoid it with deadly zeal. She chooses to sit outdoors. I'm in the southwest corner, seeing all such as it is.


      What is this redhead focus, awareness, passion? Seems to go with the eye contact, the attitude I've written about before. The same with the short one at the oldies club. Quietly aware of who's watching and who's not. The same skill at looking back without a flinch or quick shift to another perspective. Appraising me as I appreciate her, both however from a safe distance. She appears to be participating, dancing with friends, or strangers. I remain the observer.


      I continue my redhead quest at the art festival with no success. The sense of longing  takes over (it is never far away). The long lost love, who never existed, for whom I pine, has not returned. I've caught glimpses of her in some of the women I've known. My Jungian wonder woman teases me through the lives of others. My pedestal is crowded. Some stay up there for a while. They step down or I push them off rudely. The important ones fall, or refuse the honor. Others never quite make it.


      Another day. She's not a redhead but I give her honorary status. Slender pale-skinned brunette, with long runner's legs. Muscle obvious in her arms. Short denim shorts. Black lace up combat style boots. Maybe five foot nine. Face reflects composure but little interest in her surroundings. Gets her coffee to go and is gone. Little losses, mini-griefs. Hi, I've been watching you. I find you interesting. Sit for a moment on the edge of the stool. See what I see, hear what I hear. Share with me your thoughts. Show me that you're more than a picture I see on a screen.


      Mother's day. Three moms with two kids each. They order coffee for themselves and cake or chocolate for the wee ones who jostle, whine and harangue, maneuvering to ensure they fare as well, or better, than their sib. Walking tantrum bombs, waiting for an excuse. Saw a lot of that at the art festival; several went off. Mom tries to have a quiet cup of coffee and look out the same window and see the same things I do. Her boys won't leave her to her moment. My lack of tolerance moves me away in frustration.

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