Around 3:15 p.m., a short, sinewy guy—tan skin, probably in his late 20s—walks into a coffee shop packed with teenagers, head down, hands in pocket, shoulders scrunched toward his ears. He’s wearing a knitted navy blue hat and a matching ski jacket. Inside, at a wooden bar to the left, are two teenage girls: one with gnarly blonde hair and a few pimples on her chin, slapping her heels together and eating a banana, the other, with brown hair and a neon pink jacket, slurping a green drink and swiveling in a vinyl seat the color of a 1975 New York taxicab. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is playing on the radio.
The man walks up to the coffee bar. The barista, a skinny guy with gauges in his earlobes and downward-combed hair, tilts his head, puts his hand on his waist and says, “What can I get you?”
“Small tea, regular, with a splash of honey.”
He pays, slips his change into his pocket and looks over at the two girls. He points at their feet. “’Scuze me, for goodness sake, don’t your feet get cold?”
They look at each other and giggle. The blonde girl peels her blotchy banana further and takes a bite.
“I live at about 2800 feet above sea level in New Hampshire, and I’m thinking about how cold my feet would be if I wore those shoes. You’d have to ship me off in an ambulance and have me treated for hypothermia.”
The girl with the brown hair laughs and widens her eyes as if the word “hypothermia” were a dirty word.
“Visit New Hampshire,” says the guy in the blue. You have the right jacket but not the right shoes.”
“Do you go skiing there?” asks the brunette in the yellow chair.
“Everyone’s obsessed with ski-ing, ski-ing ski-ing,” he says, emphasizing the first syllable of “skiing” and framing the word with his hands as if signing to a crowd of deaf people. “But what about sledding? What about good old tubing?”
He continues. The barista rolls his eyes in the background.
“You guys—I mean you ladies—want to hear a funny story?
“Oh Lord,” says the brunette, smirking at her friend, who’s giggling.
“Sure,” says the blonde.
“If you look at the back of my aunt’s house in New Hampshire, you’ll find a huge hill with jagged rocks on it. That’s where I went tubing a while ago,” he says.
The barista shakes his head.
Guy in the blue continues. “You see, my aunt lives up there. She has a dog. Every time we went down the hill, he’d chase us. Finally, he bit the tubes and they popped, and we went flying across the yard.”
The girls look at each other and laugh.
“Yeah, well luckily we survived,” he says, kissing his hand and raising it to the ceiling.”
He goes on. “But yeah, if you ever visit New Hampshire, definitely change your footwear. I’m Chad, by the way.”
“I’m Jessica,” says the blonde.
“I’m Bridget,” says the brunette.
Chad says, “Oh, well, you know they made a movie about your diaries.”
“Don’t remind her,” the blonde laughs. “She hates that movie.”
“Oh boy. I got to run. It was nice chatting with you ladies. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
He picks up his tea. He walks out.
“What the hell is wrong with that guy?” asks the brunette.
The barista in the background sings, “Lucy in the sky with dia-monds.”