I walked into Parco this morning with a friend I had promised to buy coffee for, because she had no cash. But when I opened my purse, there were only two measly dollars, not even enough for my own lame herbal tea.
"Uh oh," I said, showing her the vast emptiness where dollars should have been. We laughed. I was just about to leave and get cash when a lovely woman who works at the Y, in front of me in line, offered to float me.
"I know where to find you..." she said, knowing I'd be in her establishment later.
Nice. If she hadn't been there, I could probably have convinced the barrista to spot us until the next time. See, this is why I love being a regular. Gold stars were proffered all around, to my Y friend, to the friend I'd invited, my treat, with no means, and to the barrista, who waited while we figured out how to pay him.
As my friend and I sat, in the window, her star caught the eye of a little boy, who had eagerly been listening to our conversation while waiting for his mom. As she got her coffee and they began to walk out, he looked right at my friend.
"I like your star..." he said.
It seemed the perfect opportunity. "Do you want one?" I said.
He looked at his mom, like all good boys do when strangers offer them something.
"Go ahead..." she said, smiling, excited for him.
I gave one to him and, of course, to the mom. Nice early boldness, good effort, on both of their parts.
There must have been something in the air today, some centrifugal pull tugging the gold stars toward children. During my afternoon break, sipping a Red Cappuccino (an herbal tea masquerading as coffee)made for me special by the sweet, sympathetic barrista at Naidre's, two men walked in with some lively little girls. I immediately loved these girls. They were probably 5 or 6, and they were so happy and full of life, running around the small cafe tables without a care. The one stopped the other, made her pay attention as she tried to teach her the oft-complex hand maneuvers that go along with "Miss Mary Mack...," the chant that has bested the odds and held on through the many decades since I was their age.
I wanted to play too. I tried, but wasn't very good. The girls ran off, out the door, back in again.
"Wait, girls, I have something for you," I said.
They stood, waiting eagerly, as I pulled out some stars.
"Stickers?" the little teacher with the flying curls asked. "Cool!" She ran off to show her Dad, still waiting at the counter. She came back with the star in the middle of her forehead, like an Indian bindi.
"My Dad said I should put it there," she told me, and was off like a shot, again.
I gave a star to the other little girl's younger sister, a mere babe in her father's arms. He placed it on her and she and I gazed at each other for a while. I'm not sure how she felt about the star. Confused, perhaps. Like most things, it probably didn't yet have meaning for her.
Flying Curls' Dad followed shortly with his food, packed up to go. He was intrigued by the stars. I gave him one and he placed it, with a gracious "Thanks!" directly in the middle of his forehead.
"So, you're a writer? That's great! I did about four paragraphs of writing recently," he said.
"Why, what were you writing?" I asked.
"Well, you know Californication?"
Only my favorite show on television, the best-written one, I think, by far. He agreed. Like me, it had inspired him, the purity of it, the freedom with which David Duchovny's character, a writer, a playboy, talks and acts, even when it's totally against the rules, against his own and others' better judgment. It feels real, like the hyper-reality of a really smart person, what they would do if they could and the ramifications of doing so.
"If everyone could write like that..." I said.
"Yeah, I'd love to write," he said. He handed me his card. It turns out, in his real world, he is a photographer. But why not be writer and photographer both? Creativity is creativity, it can take so many different forms.
We said goodbye then, and he walked off to find Flying Curls, but then popped back in to add a comment, to mention another of his favorite writers, Miranda July. I had never heard of her.
He was shocked. "You've never heard of her? She's a badass performance artist/writer and you remind me of her..." With a wave, he was gone.
I smiled. Cool. I love being compared to a badass.
I looked up Ms. July later, after my new photographer friend sent me a photo of himself with his gold star on his forehead, and I asked him to remind me of her name. I liked her style from what I could tell. She did, indeed, seem like a badass. I particularly like one quote from her book of stories, "No One Belongs Here More Than You."
It says: "What a terrible mistake to let go of something wonderful for something real." Nice. Delusional, I see, just like me. See, fantasy shouldn't just be for children.