Two days.  Two Cafes.  Two cups of coffee.  And two different conversations, overheard because two girls were talking too loud or just not caring if someone else heard what they had to say.

I have a favorite place to sit and drink coffee when I’m in town.  The coffee is strong and the cups are heavy, they fill your hands.  Refills are free.

I like a booth, in the back, where I can lean against the window and watch the world.  I stopped by one afternoon.  I needed the coffee and a place to sit and think.

Across from me,  a dining table.  Typical, maroon surface, chromed edge and four metal chairs.  One person sat there.

She was a tall girl, attractive,  wearing glasses, long blond hair.  Maybe a college student, maybe in graduate school or a new graduate, working at her first real job.  She wore a dress.  Unusual in today’s world.

I smiled at her.  I’m from the South, that’s what we do.

Something was wrong.

She looked like her world had come crashing down on top of everything she knew.

Her eyes were red, she dropped a tear and wiped it away from her cheek.  She pushed her hair back behind her ear.

Maybe it happened about an hour earlier.  Not much longer than that, I’m sure.  Her phone was on the table. She picked it up, then put it down.  She picked it up again and looked down at it for the longest time.

The plate in front of her had a half-eaten sandwich.  It’s the South, she had a glass of sweet tea on the side. She didn’t touch it.

Then, she looked long and hard at the phone once again.  She tapped the face of the phone one time.  Then another and put the phone to her ear.  Speed dialing a number.

“I need to tell you something!”  her voice was loud enough for me to hear, even though I didn’t care to listen.  “It’s over.  O-V-E-R. Like, we’re at the end of the road. There is no going back. I don’t want to talk to you, I don’t want you to talk to me.”  She paused. Listening, I assumed.  A minute or two clicked by.  “Never!”

She sat there, but she was gone, looking away, far away, past the window, outside, across the street, beyond the horizon.  Her mind was in another world. She was crying.  I hid behind my coffee.  I didn’t want to think about what I was thinking.

“No, that’s not going to work!  Yes, we had some good times.  No, I don’t need some time.  Yes, you are….never mind.  I’ve got to go.  This is hard for me too.  No, don’t call.  Please.”  And she put the phone down and picked up a paper napkin.  She buried her face and sobbed.

I finished my coffee, tipped an invisible waitress and left.   Another’s heartbreak is not something I care to witness.

The next day.  At a fast food restaurant, paper plates, plastic knives, spoons and forks.   Cheap food and senior citizen coffee for me.  I find another booth next to another  window.  In the booth behind me, another young lady.  I never saw her face, just the back of her head.  She was on the phone as I sat down.

“The ring is so pretty.  I love it.  Oh, I’m so happy!  I’m sitting here, eating breakfast, thinking about the two of us and how happy I am.  I’m just looking at my ring .  No, it’s our ring.  I can’t wait until you get  home.  I love you too.”

Two days, two coffees, two lives.


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I’m trying to get rid of an old baseball cap.  It’s difficult.  No, it’s hard.  I’ve tried to throw it away.  I’ve put it aside, in the Salvation Army bag,  three times already.  I just can’t seem to let it go.  That cap and I have been down the road a mile or two.

Every time, I find myself going back and pulling that old cap out of the bag.    It’s faded.  The threads are worn, some of the seams are broken.   But, it fits me well.  I like it.  I’ve had it for going on five or six years.

I’ve owned three hundred and ninety-three other baseball caps in my lifetime. Lots and lots of free caps.  People would give them to me.  I even bought boxes of caps and gave them to friends and customers.  I kept one or two for myself.  Eventually, I gave them away also.

Free caps are easy to get rid of.  I never felt guilty giving away a free cap.

But,  I bought this cap I’m trying to throw away.  I bought it to keep.

My first memory of owning my very own cap is a Navy Blue wool baseball cap.  I was seven years old.  I got it when I played little league baseball in Waterproof, Louisiana.

That  first cap had a “W” on the front and elastic in the back.  Back then, baseball caps, even for little leaguers, were 100% wool.  I printed my name on the bill, red ink. It faded the first time the cap got wet.  Somewhere, along with a lot of memories, it disappeared.

The first cap I really lost  was a red one.  It had a patch on the front that said “Detroit Diesel.”  Someone gave it to my Dad.  He gave it to me.  I was in high school.  It blew off my head one day while I was riding in the back of a pickup truck.  Gone.

Men wore a lot of hats back then.  Boys had caps.  Both the men and boys tipped their hat or cap to say hello and show respect.  Those were the innocent days.

You’d never, ever see anyone wearing a cap inside a building.  That just didn’t happen.  Times have changed.

Back to my cap.  I bought this cap because it fit well.  I liked the color.

I wanted a cap that said Ole Miss, my college.  It was Khaki when new.  Today, it’s a well worn tan.   I’ve worn it a lot.  It’s stained with sweat and stuff. I’ve washed it in the washing machine a hundred times.  The cloth on the brim is torn and ragged.  When all is said and done, it’s just worn out.  But, I still like the way it fits my skull.

My wife gave me a new Ole Miss cap.  It’s Navy Blue with red trim..  Nice, but not the same.  And, I have another, new Khaki cap, with a big M on the front,  Ole Miss across the back, where you adjust the size.  It’s a nice cap, but it isn’t the same either.

She won’t tell me to get rid of the old cap.  Then again, she won’t tell me to wear it, either.  I keep it for when I’m doing dirty jobs outside, like cutting the grass, or sawing down a tree.  It gets nasty and it stinks. I plan to throw it away.  Then I throw it in the washing machine again.  The color fades a little more.  The ragged edges tatter  a bit more.  I hang it outside to dry.  And, I still can’t throw it away.


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