Sunday, January 15, 2012
There is this town called Nowhere. That wasn't its name originally, oh no. Nowhere once had a respectable name of sorts, named after some explorer or such,the sort of name we glance over in an old textbook. But Nowhere wasn't content with such a respectable Anglo-Saxon name. Nowhere was precisely in the middle of well, nowhere and for this geographic placement the town became named. The town is by no city at all, Walmarts and convenient gas stations that stick to the hours they claim to be open are foreign concepts. One is either remotely removed from all human life forms or uncomfortably close to one's neighbors. Nowhere is one of the last few beach towns untouched by corporations or surf chains, mostly due to the fact no one has paved the roads in years and the locals rip down all signs pointing to their town. Nowhere is a perfect slice of Nowhere. Conversations used to go as follows:
"Where do you live?"
"I live in the middle of nowhere"
And so the name stuck,the town became literally known as Nowhere and at that it remains to this day.
"Where do you live?"
"No, really, where do you live?"
"I live up on the hill, in Nowhere."
The center of Nowhere has always been Lulu's Cafe, owned by Nancy, now. Nancy is a heavy set middle aged woman who wears too much red lipstick, has greying brown hair and is drawn towards large floral print dresses and penny loafers. She makes a mean meatloaf and the best cinnamon bun and cup of steaming hot coffee you'll ever taste. Lulu's has been around for more years than anyone can remember, which is saying something. The original owner must have been named Lulu, and the nickname has stuck. Every subsequent owner has been nicknamed Lulu. Even the last owner, a nice man named Robert became the joke of the town, referred to as 'Lulu' by everyone. Robert had a good sense of humor and bore the nickname with a grin, though it's rumored it may have added to his eventual mental breakdown and selling of the cafe. Nowhere has that effect on some people. Time moves a bit more slowly here and stories get repeated and retold more often than some have patience for.
Lulu's Cafe technically opens at 7:00 am, or at least the sign says so. Sometimes Nancy 'Lulu' forgets to open the doors though and is rudely reminded by P.J. rapping his cane against the glass door, clamoring for his morning donut and cup of black coffee, no cream.
P.J. is an old painter, who sometimes forgets to change out of his robe. He has a sharp tongue and wry sense of humor. He drives an old cranky Volvo that he refers to as 'Virginia'. Virginia sends out fumes of black steam and creaks and groans. He will click his tongue and look at his old decrepit car and sigh "Creaks and groans for us both..I always wonder whose back is going to go out first." and then turn back to his black coffee. He sits in the peeling red booth by the window, with a newspaper and watches as the other customers roll in.
Lily, the new librarian and yoga teacher in town usually comes in around 7:30. She orders her cup of green tea and wheat bread like every morning. She is a pretty young thing, long blonde hair swept back and large brown eyes with a determined step and lively disposition. Her yoga classes have turned out to be surprisingly full, though mostly by the middle aged men of Nowhere, for reasons she seems completely naive to. P.J. himself has even been present at a few, though he does not do much besides sitting on his yoga ball complaining about how he is too old to do this kind of thing. Lily always greets Nancy with a cheery good morning and sits by the fire as Nancy brings her "the usual" while urging her to eat more.
"Are you sure you don't want some eggs or some bacon..or I would even whip up some of my meatloaf for ya, hun."
"Oh, I'm just fine! Lula, I don't want anything else..don't worry!"
"Are you dieting, hun? Hun, you better not be dieting. I once tried to diet and believe me, the things diet do to a good figure like our own, well, let me tell you.."
Lily will laugh and listen to Nancy's horror tales of diets, like every morning and sip her green tea. P.J. always makes some comments as she leaves about her not lasting, her kind never lasting in Nowhere.
Nancy will click her tongue at P.J. and wag her apron at him as Bean walks in. Bean's real name is Elizabeth Jillian Clark. However P.J. has never had a good head for names, which has only worsened with age. He usually just calls people whatever they remind him of. Bean is tall and long with long features and a willowy walk that reminds one quite a lot of a bean stalk. That is exactly what P.J. christened her as soon as she appeared in town. As is the story with most of Nowhere, the name stuck.
Bean is an avid knitter and loves children, though she has none of her own. Hence she is constantly knitting some new contraption or scarf for some already overburdened child of Nowhere, getting ready to bequeath them with their umpteenth scarf or mitten from her. Bean is also the town gossip. She will stroll into the cafe with her tongue already wagging, not even bothering to say hello.
"Oh, Lula, you won't even BELIEVE what I just heard!! So you know Charles at the gas station, well as we all know he has been making eyes at the cashier for years. Well, and it was about time if you ask me, so yesterday I heard that..you won't even believe it! Well Delilah went to the gas station and she no one was there..well you wouldn't believe it but when she went 'round back.."
"No, I don't believe it!" P.J. will grumble just to bug Bean.
Bean will fix him with a glare and continue her story to whoever is listening and will continue to repeat the story to anyone who walks through the glass doors.
Alfred sometimes pulls his big old Harley into the parking lot outside of Lulu's, hollers and strolls in. He will pull Lulu into his arms to sound of her pretend shrieks, gives her a big wet kiss on the lips and laugh as she complains about his big brown beard. Alfred is Lulu's boyfriend of 15 years, a nomadic, leather clad motorcycle enthusiast who is completely and utterly in love with Lulu. Alfred proposes to her every year, on the same date, with the same ring, in the same manner. Usually he will swing his arm around her, over two cups of coffee when the restaurant has closed and holler
"Lulu, you are quite the fine looking woman and I really do love you. How about we get hitched?"
"Alfred, you know I love you, but you don't sit still, hun. You are my nomad. Life traveling around doesn't suit my settling bones. And do you really want to live in Nowhere? This is my home, I don't want to move and live in motel eights with you."
"But I bought you the motorcycle..you riding it?"
"Sometimes" Lula will lie.
"So is this a no?"
"Nah, I couldn't ever say no to you!"
"Well, good..so..uh..should I ask again next year?"
"That sounds like a fine idea, Allie."
And so he does and has done for fifteen years.
Jasmine is the local writer, a small girl with cropped blonde hair and big peering owl like eyes. She usually comes in after school and will order anything from a bagel and cream cheese to Lulu's fried chicken and waffles. She's a funny girl with an animated nature and funny perspective on the world. She loves to prop herself next to P.J. and tell him stories. She can always make the old man chuckle, despite his grouchy nature. They take turn swapping stories like two old chickadees, back and forth. Jasmine or Jazzy is a very high-strung, emotional child and will often pour out her entire heart to the old man. It's an unlikely friendship, but the two are as thick as cream. Jasmine once told P.J. an old fairytale about a girl who was born with two hearts and would fix hearts and broken dreams with a needle. P.J. looked her squarely in the eye and then pointed at the pen clasped in her hands and said in his low gravely voice
"This is your needle, two heart- girl..now go fix the world."
And so Jazzy is. She comes into Lula's every afternoon and writes as much as she can, the observation arounds her. Lula always laughs at her and calls her the cafe sponge. But P.J. and Jazzy both know who she really is.
So this is Lulu's Cafe, a small coffee shop with big red peeling booths and movie posters of old films no one bothered to see, fraying hot pink fake rose bouquets and checkered floors. The inhabitants of Nowhere flock in and out of the cafe, day in and out, and time goes slowly as Lulu warms up her coffee pot, and the waves in the sea crash in and out as they have since back when Lulu's cafe was truly owned by a Lulu.
And times go on and on, as it always has in...
Posted by Hannah Louisa Yerington at 11:38 PM