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The Coffee Shop

waiting in line in YOLO coffee shop
YOLO Coffee shop Jerusalem

Car parked in the underground garage, in the narrow street of busy downtown Salonika. We entered the store. Short sleeved tee shirts of every colour were displayed in the window.


The sleek black haired salesman stepped forward "Can I be of service?". Etti has a way of turning matter of fact business discussions into personal conversations.


Israelis, it was divulged, rented the apartment above the store. His Summer weekends were spent at a holiday home, in the village by the sea, where we were vacationing.

Dark blue felt hat on my bald pate. Fooled by blue skies into thinking the day to be warm. Imagining myself in the guise of a Greek sailor. Torso covered only with the flimsy blue garment purchased in the ancient Greek city. 

I strode into the YOLO coffee shop, on busy KIACH str near the Mahaneh Yehudah market in Jerusalem. The weekly get-together, with my 4 friends, named by Shaul, the mutual mending club, was about to begin.

Opinions are negated in vehement and vociferous words denoting bodily discharges. What should take priority? Rescuing the hostages or destroying Hamas? Hostages would have been released immediately had Israel not retaliated by attacking Hamas.

We aren’t alone others sit at tables in quiet, often intimate conversations. A mother is feeding cake into the mouth of her child in a pram, a soldier with an M16 slung over his shoulder is sweet talking his girlfriend.

A lady cross legged, a little brown Pekinese at her feet, just below the heel of her elegant shoe. One knee over the other. Her coffee cup held delicately between forefinger and thumb.

She lifts the vessel to her lips which are painted a deep purple. She stares straight into the eyes of an old man sitting opposite her.

He has a long fluffy white beard, a long nose, gaunt face. His arms are folded across his chest. He glares back at the lady who is looking at him with daggers in her eyes.

A man with a kipa, wearing a black jacket, fringes hang out from below, in the fashion of Orthodox Jews.

The pretty cashier looks passive, taking orders and registering the payments on a credit card machine.

The walls can’t be seen. Covered with shelves, with cakes, "what's tasty here?" I wondered, as I waited in the line to be served.

Display counters show other pastries covered with white icing. The owner of this place thinks that white makes a cake appear more attractive. He wants to sell the stuff he makes.

Everything is sweet. Sugar is unhealthy yet it attracts people, bees and flies. All are attracted by the sweet stuff. It turns into treacly mess in their bodies.

The lady pouring the coffee and setting out the cups and saucers, smiles at everyone. Don’t worry your order is next.

I bring the coffee and the tea to our table. The war isn’t being discussed. Robbie is telling how he insulted the bus driver who stopped the bus suddenly and caused him to fall forward and pull a ligament in his arm.

The first aid station told him to go away “nothing's the matter with you”, they said.


Robbie in excruciating pain turned to another doctor who told him to wait for an x-ray.

Rough short hairs form his grey beard, connecting it with what one might call a moustache under his nose. White may make cakes look attractive but not Robbie’s crooked teeth.

Clenched teeth partially block the flow of words full of advice on how to fix a broken this or that or how to bake this or that cake or how he purchased candlesticks as barmitzva gifts for his nephews only recently born.

Robbie falls into traps, of which he’s warning others to be careful, a man caring for everyone’s well-being but his own.

Shaul insists that our outing to Teel Aviv to ride the new city transport system must take place. It had been planned but the war began and we postponed it.

The girl in the grey knitted dress is slim. Her curves are all nicely emphasized by the garment she is wearing. She might be called a waitress but she looks like someone who moves between the tables for the sake of showing her presence.

Robbie says that I am rude to stare at her. For once I agree with the all-knowing one.

Declan, impersonates his renowned compatriot, George Bernard Shaw, long scruffy white beard and all. He’s cuddled up in a thick red tartan jacket, rescued from the trash can on the sidewalk near his apartment.

A tongue as sharp as Shaw’s, but not as wise, he deflates egos, emptying balloons filled with hot air. Being put down in this way, doesn’t change my opinion, which is always contrary to his.

Rapidly balding, smiling, narrow faced, bespectacled Mike, in his fireman red cardigan, crosses swords with Robbie. His way of baking bread, screwing on doors, and painting walls is always more efficient than Robbie’s.

Slurping coffee and tea, drowned out serious subjects. Memories of accompanying my travel agent wife, in Batumi returned to me. Khatchapuri, a Georgian dish, of fluffy bread, runny egg and cheese was gobbled up.


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