Yesterday I needed a place to grade papers that was cheerful and away from my apartment which is littered with distractions everywhere I look. I'd been wanting to check out a diminutive cafe on 1st street between 1st and 2nd aves called Arlo & Esme, which from the street promised all marble, and an old wooden bar. The clientelle at 10 a.m. was "barely" and included three of us freelancers with laptops, and a mom which an incredibly cooperative little monkey who quietly drank hot cocoa and pushed a Thomas train back and forth across the table top.
That said, I was momentarily nostalgic for the old Peacock Cafe on Greenwich Avenue. The Peacock was an ancient Italian espresso shop I used to go to in the early to mid-90s with a revolving tour of writer's groups that always started off with a bang and ended up flailing for dear life. If only those fledgling members had known the Peacock's days were numbered; they would have returned for sure, despite all the bad poetry and tortured first person pieces being workshopped. The Peacock was a wild beatnik hangout in the 50s, and the reason I loved it forty years later was because the owner was an old mustached-guy who used to spin his favorite arias on an old turntable behind the bar, and you could sit undisturbed for ages without feeling like you had to push off. In my memory he played a Gramophone, but that could be romance bending reality. Mustached Sweetie always made a mean cappuccino and delivered it with one eyebrow raised.
Arlo & Esme was a welcoming corner of the neighborhood yesterday, and I managed to get a lot of work done despite the macabre 80s playlist which cut through the physical serenity of the space. I'll go back.