Usurpers to the Throne


The usual hours and the usual parking spot and the usual teenage boys behind the bar who take bets on what flavor of fruit juice I’ll be drinking today; if I’ll accept the aperitivo or no; if I’ll get any writing done while Old Man Antonio lectures me on exactly what my problem is (I have many). The caffè has become a physiologist’s bell for me and I am a salivating dog; without it, without my usual routine of street-facing table, fruit juice in a tall glass on ice with a straw, the white noise of espresso machine and old man nonsense, I do not write. Every day from 5 to 8. The undisputed bright spot of my day.

But sometimes, I roll up to the caffèwalk through the doors, take off my hat and sunglasses – and I see this:

A crew of unauthorized bitches at my table.

I took this picture yesterday, from the vastly inferior table behind my usual. Imagine that the camera lens is glowering, radiating black waves of wrath. Now, the staff at the caffè know that that table is mine but of course, they can’t redirect paying customers so on the occasions that this bullshit happens, they shoot me sympathetic glances; shrug their shoulders. I shrug mine, too – even if inside I’m seething. For the most part, usurpers to the throne leave quickly and within a few minutes of sitting down at another table, I can reclaim my place. But sometimes, bitches got to linger, as in the above photo. Some round-headed baby that wouldn’t shut up. Some random fat-faced relatives who kept streaming in and out. My current chapter is open, glowing on my screen, but I can’t work here at this other table; it’s too little, I’m blocked from the street, there is no bell, I have no juice. The fuck, people – do you not understand you’re impeding literary genius? Out. Out. Out of my damn spot!

And finally, the invaders leave – a graveyard of half-eaten antipasto baskets littered all over my work space. Just as they begin to collect their things, I see two teenage girls walk into the caffè. Fling my purse onto the seat, loop my ankle around the table leg.

And then the table is mine again. And then the words fall into place.

Ehi, says Alfredo at the bar. You got your place back, eh?

My place? I say. Oh, I suppose so.


6 Replies to “Usurpers to the Throne”

  1. You know, I always had My Official Table at my favorite restaurants in Japan, but I’ve never been a regular any place in the states, much less to the point of having a designated spot. What is it about being abroad that does that?

    1. Completely agree, Lara! The closest I ever came to being a regular in any place back home was when I worked at a small Irish pub on 2nd avenue in New York City, or maybe at Marie’s Crisis in the West Village (the pianists knew my face, anyway). My parents are in town this week so they came to visit me at the caffe; the owners told them I was like family.

  2. Sometimes, bitches gotta linger – nice!

    1. I can always count on you to enjoy my more profane thoughts, Nick. 😀

  3. Oh god, I love the dependance on ritual in this post. Thank fark you got your seat back.

  4. What a delightful post! Kudos on the MacBeth reference as well!

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