I belong to two coffee klatches, but none of us call it that. If we did, we’d be expelled. We just say, “I have coffee with the boys in the morning.” One group meets at Starbucks, in Ormond Beach, Florida. The other assembles at the Owego Kitchen and Carols Coffee & Art Bar, in Owego, N.Y. Both are loud, boisterous and disruptive to the profitability of the establishments, yet we are tolerated, and for that, grateful.
Each klatch is a closed society, though guests and visitors do pop in and out on occasion; full membership must be earned. It takes a while to fit in. We’ve added two new members (Eric and Mike) to the Owego klatch over the past few years. I’m the newcomer in Ormond Beach. Both groups have similar rules, codes of conversation, so to speak. Have a “story” to tell? Some neat, or dreadful experience you want to relate? Good luck with that! The floor is never yielded completely, no matter how compelling the experience you wish to talk about.
It’s not “show and tell.” It’s “group-tell.” Daren, of the Owego klatch, often has something to share. He’s active, travels, and things happen to him. He gets into a lot of predicaments. Some, by simple bad luck. Some, because he’s a stand-up guy who steps in to lend a hand or straighten out a mess. But, his best stories are those where he’s as hapless as the rest of us. Like, the time he chased a bat around his bedroom wielding a tennis racquet or tried to convince a squirrel it didn’t really want to build a nest in his attic. Each of those episodes had their hilarious moments, but nothing compared to his macho strut across a nite spot in New York City in his salad days, with a long stream of toilet paper dragging from the heel of his shoe. (Revealed in print for the 3rd time. Sorry Daren).
It doesn’t matter how intriguing or funny his story may be; he gets no more than 30 seconds to tell the tale before we interrupt and take the discussion in another direction or replace it with our own experience. He waits and grabs it back, and rushes to get more of the tale told. But, it ain’t gunna be that easy. We all talk, or nobody talks. It’s what keeps the klatch going; no one can bore the group for any length of time. The Ormond Beach klatch is the same, though people in that group resist interruptions with more vigor. It does them no good.
Tony, a former member of the Owego klatch, got so used to being interrupted that when he moved to the west coast of Florida and joined a bunch of locals for morning coffee, they thought he had an affliction. They were puzzled by his pauses after each sentence. He was expecting to be interrupted, but the group didn’t do that. They wondered, “What’s wrong with this guy; he can’t sustain a normal conversation?” He told me it took several months to stop talking in an erratic fashion. Of course, I interrupted him as he related this to me.