When I was a kid I loved watching my parents drink coffee. I loved the smell and the way it burbled when the waitress topped off their cups. I always figured I’d drink coffee as an adult, too. I’d leave red lipstick marks like mom and clang the spoon on the saucer like my dad. Disappointingly I never acquired a taste for it.
The other night I called Andrea and she was out with friends “getting a coffee.” Well! In my mind she sounded grown up in a way even I will never get to be.
I was so entertained by the image that when she came up today I decided I had to see her drink coffee so after we dropped off her car to get an oil change, I drove us to the Plaza Barnes & Noble to look at books and talk in the cafe.
Walking from the parking garage to the bookstore, we came upon a man sitting Indian-style on the cold sidewalk holding out a cup. Andrea went up to him and said “Hi! Do you need some money?” I hid a chuckle. She got some cash out of her purse, put it in his cup and we walked into the store, arms entwined.
When we met up later in the coffee shop, she showed me her purchase of Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality. Very cool, I told her. I read it years ago and thought she’d like it.
So I watched her drink her coffee – wasn’t the same at all out of a Starbucks-type paper cup and she doesn’t wear lipstick – while I drank my hot chocolate and we talked.
When we left the store she went straight over to the man on the sidewalk. She handed him her bag and said, “I got this for you. It’s really popular – a lot of people like it and I hope you’ll read it.” What? I was thinking, oh God… The protective mother rises up and wants to protect her idealistic college freshman from hurt feelings or disappointments. But the man expressed his thanks. Gave her a great smile. Promised he’d read it.
When we pulled out of the parking garage into the sunlight we saw him doing just that, mouthing the words and everything.
But none of that is the best part. The best part is what Andrea said after. “I’m glad he didn’t say, ‘I’m homeless – what am I supposed to do with this?'” Because that told me she knew that was a possibility. That told me she knew books or five dollars or I’ll pray for you‘s aren’t what saves people. God saves people. From people who truly need food and shelter and a book maybe to wipe their ass, to people just out for cash to feed an addiction.
But Andrea didn’t want to save anyone. She just wants to love everyone. And I felt it. Remember how the Who’s in Whoville made the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes? Andrea made my heart smile today. I actually felt it.