The six of us crowd around two small tables
with round fake marble tops. It's New Year's Day
and the North Beach cafe is packed with latte drinkers.
People check their reflections in the windows
as they walk in the door. Just a few smokers,
but they're rolling their own from tobacco pouches.

She's a therapist, the wife of a friend
and she still has Brooklyn in her voice.
Toned down New York City: she's saying
sensitive California things about abused children.

The men are talking about mathematics and Russia.
I can hear that much, but we're at the second
of two tables, and I'm almost two diameters away from them.

"Do you watch sports on TV?" She's done with her decaf cappuccino,
and we're searching for common ground, just a short secant away
from each other at the table.

"I watch boxing sometimes. On ESPN."

"Oh. That's terrible. You must have a lot of repressed violence."
Her face is full of genuine concern for me. I want to hug her
and tell her it's okay, that I'm joking.

But instead I tell her, "Not really. I just watch the bantamweight fights. Those little guys are pretty graceful, dancing around the ring. Not at all like the heavyweights."

I was lying about all of it, of course.
I'm full of repressed violence and I never watch boxing.
But I'd already had too much coffee for impromptu therapy,
and the cafe was depressing the hell out of me.

forward          anywhere         lines