Story Challenge Day 16: On Coffee Shops

Today, I was reading this blog post about coffee shops, and how at one point they were hubs for philosophical conversation and debate.

Which got me thinking (which sometimes gets me into trouble, but that’s the fuel for a whole other post). What if I were just sitting in a coffee shop, minding my own business, when all of a sudden a nearby table erupts into one of those conversations? What would I do?

And THAT got me thinking, and remembering. That DID happen to me, in a way.

Picture the scene: a neighborhood Starbucks, 6:00 am. I’m settled in to catch up on school work and grad work before starting work-work because it’s the only time I can capture (fuel, I suppose, for another blog post).

All of a sudden, a guy comes up to me. “You’re pretty smart, right?”

I don’t know this guy. But I know the guy he’s with, who just happens to be the parent of one of my former kiddos.

I reply, “Umm….well, it depends on the subject, or who’s asking.”
“This guy is trying to tell me that it’s OK to say that he’s ‘more busy,’ and I’m telling him that’s not a thing. He’s ‘busier.’ Right? You’re not supposed to say ‘more busy,’ that’s just not right.”
“Well…I suppose technically you’re right with the grammar, so that’s a thing.” I quickly check my sources before moving on. “You do only use ‘more’ or ‘less’ when the adjective is three or more syllables long.”
“A-HA!” he shouts, with a satisfied smirk to his friend.
He stops smirking. “There’s a but?”
“But. Have you ever heard the word ‘pedantry?'”
“Pedantry. It’s a great word. It’s the word we use for when someone corrects an error that doesn’t need to be corrected.* Did you know what he meant to say with ‘more busy?'”

A moment of silence sweeps across, followed by a moment of thought, then a moment of recognition.

“Pedantry. That’s a new one. I’ll have to use that one.”

And then the guys and I, we launched into conversation together that day. And many days after that, our chats extending towards all sorts of subjects about this world.

Since then a lot has changed. I finished my degree. COVID hit. The shop closed. But still, I find the guys hanging out together on a morning walk. We always say hello, chat, catch up on things.

So, to bring things full circle, I guess I can imagine what it might be like to be in one of those Paris cafés, enjoying a tasty beverage in the midst of philosophical debate and witty repartee. And I think it might not be so bad after all.

* Remember. I’m a teacher of gifted kids. The answer is yes, the talk around “pedantry” comes up probably as often as some of you might imagine. Classroom teachers and parents, you can thank me later.

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

13 thoughts on “Story Challenge Day 16: On Coffee Shops

  1. I love this story! I also love that word and how you explained it. And I can definitely it let see it being a helpful thing for kiddos to understand too, especially in a group of gifted students.

    1. Exactly! You know, it’s hard for some of them, because they really do mean well. Errors *are* annoying, and we want to correct them.

      What’s hard is if kids already are fighting somewhat of a “know-it-all” reputation. Knowing about pedantry, and the ability we have to let things go, is a step in the right direction for them.

  2. I love this story. Coffee shops and tea houses used to be where intellectuals would meet! I’d love to be part of an impromptu conversation like this someday.
    And your slice reminded me of a completely unrelated incident that I could slice about – so thank you! 😀

  3. What a great story. Don’t people know by know that there is always a “but”? I like the friendly banter. I know a person who likes to correct everyone because it makes him feel superior.

    1. I had a thing with my kids where I’d say, “but there’s a ‘but.’ a VERY BIG ‘but.’ ”

      It always made us all giggle. Because…BUT.

  4. What a remarkable story! The dialogue here is exceptional and I could picture the characters. You have taken a moment in time and quickly extended the relationship to drop us into the present.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I’m usually not one who likes to write dialogue, but this one came naturally to me. Maybe because I’d already been in the situation? I guess I’ve always got something to work on.

  5. Oh so cool, thanks for including me in the link to this! I love that you had this intellectual conversation in such a random unexpected way and that it led to more. I have spent so much time with people whose first language isn’t English that it hardly ever happens to me. These people are definitely gifted in a different way, because like my current students, they converse and learn in a language that’s not their own!

  6. I love this story so much! Your dialogue makes the moment work so well as a slice!

    It also makes me want to go to a coffee shop and talk to some pedantic kids. 🙂

    1. Thank you! And if you’d like some pedantry, just visit any comments section on social media ; )

  7. I grinned reading this easily, seeing it all unfolding..This is a great story little. I wind up in conversations with random strangers regularly. I wouldn’t have batted an eye jumping in.

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