Sunday, February 20, 2011

Una mano di tenere (A hand to hold)

"I'll take a cappuccino, please."

I say it in English, stumbling over my thoughts...realizing how strange it sounds to order a cappuccino in any language--other than Italian.

Despite my disappointment in having to order in English, I suddenly get excited for what it is to come--my first cappuccino in nearly twenty days, my first mug of something other than a Dunkin cup of coffee, my first mug of froth and first hand to hold, by an arm that hangs off the side of a beautiful artistic, original, unique cafe mug...

Wait a second.

I look at what is placed in front of me. 'Is that a soup bowl?' My thoughts get disheveled. My friends are speaking, but I don't hear them. I look at it again, and I think, 'At least it's not made of styrofoam, but similar to my Dunkin coffee, something is missing...there is no hand to hold,' I pout quietly to myself. The Le Pain Quotidien waitress has placed an armless mug in front of me--an amputated mug. I almost want to ask if this mug has gone through battle, if the arm had to be removed due to some fight it got in with a teacup in the dishwasher. But I sit quietly.

I manage to get a few words out to my friends, "The foam looks fabulous," I say out loud, and I let my friend, who has ordered a simple cup of coffee to dip her spoon in for a taste.

'But there's no hand to hold,' I repeat in my head.

For $4.15, I want a hand to hold.

I cup my hands around the bowl-like mug. The mug is warm and burns the tips of my fingers. Instead of a hand to hold, a comforting hand that lets my fingers stay cool while a warm pool of espresso and milk touches the insides of my mouth, I am getting a full, blown, on-fire hug. I love hugs, adore them, but this one hurts...this one burns.

I put the mug down, and dip my spoon, in order to indulge in the bubbles that I am faced with.


I reach to put my hands, again, around the cappuccino, hoping this hug will be more comforting.

It isn't.

I swallow my words, and continue to dip my spoon in shoveling bubbles into my mouth. On the outside I seem like I am in pure happiness, but on the inside I am calming myself from doing something utterly and ultimately disastrous. 'I could go into the back kitchen and search for a mug that hasn't gone through battle...I could go down the street to buy a new mug--This is Manhattan--there'd have to be a mug store somewhere...right?'

But I sit. And I sip. And I put my hands around the bowl as it begins to cool. And I give it one last hug with my hands, and I think: 'Oh you poor little cappuccino could have had so much potential.'

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