Green Line Cafe

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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disturbed by the arrival of a thickly-lensed tweaker, who, before continuing to walk up 43rd street until disappearing over spruce hill, places a gallon of water and a copy of ‘mastering agriculture’, which apparently has been lifted from the library of the university of new mexico, on the table just beneath your perch, you look up from your novella, and, glancing past the perpetually opening door, you see a girl nestled in the corner with her back to the horizontally arcing window which affords a view of a small plot of untended garden and an archipelago of slatted wooden tables blistering in the sun. she is studiously focused on the papers, texts, and dictionaries heaped upon the round ‘marble’ before her; dark tresses are tucked behind her ears to afford a better view of the work. she has buttoned a tight white blouse to her throat; the tails fall over an ankle length skirt consisting of two layers – one sheer and one of sheen.

Green Line Cafe

before she looks up and catches your eye, you cast your gaze widely across the room, rendering her but one of many equally interesting characters and objects always filling the teeming scene. aging, middle-class hippies train their children whilst scrappy, bearded bike messengers rein their dogs; grad students fill out spreadsheets and update their blogs as tattooed dykes eye one another for their missed connection. students of history glare at motorists who leave their engines running; neighbors waiting for the bus attempt to snag a chair on the sly.

a cyclist careens across the trolley tracks, from which the cafe takes its name; he avoids a t-boning by trucks traveling incorrectly up the one way street and slides across the gravel worked loose from numerous potholes to softly crash into the curb before the bike rack; a fresh hole in corduroy exposes a bloody rip in his knee. he stays upright and coolly locks his bike as the crowds turns to applaud – mockingly? the dark haired girl in the corner peers over her shoulder to find the source of the ruckus, then, finding nothing amusing in the event, looks across the cafe, seemingly to gage the reactions of others.

her eyes meet yours, and you flash a quick smile. it is not a warm grin of greeting that you offer; it is a safe smirk serving as generic commentary on the absurdity on the street. she blinks twice in response, taking advantage of the second blink as an opportunity to shift her eyes away from yours. in case anyone has seen your failure, you continue to smile as you look for a more sympathetic face, as though you can enjoy this comedy with any of the fellow clientele, until you finally must satisfy yourself with just yourself by silently mouthing a half-baked witticism about bike wrecks and coffee, before returning to read for the third time the pages open in your text.

the bloodied cyclist enters the cafe and approaches the counter.

“one large coffee for here, please”

the barista nods and reaches for a mug.

“could i get a black mug, please?”

the barista ponders this for moment. “all the black mugs are being washed.”

“yeah, that’s alright. i’ll just go over here until they’re done.” he moves along the wall and manages to find a doorknob amidst the dozens of flyers for art shows, rummage sales, vegan potlucks, communes, and record releases; he opens the door and disappears.

you sieze the opportunity to catch a new glimpse of the girl in the corner, and you find that she had been watching the entire exchange at the register and had followed the cyclist into the restroom with her eyes. when he returns to the room, she looks up again; he takes his cup and heads towards the door, but he suddenly seems to notice the girl staring at him as he quickly nods his head detours to her table. you only hear a couple of words: ‘waffle iron’, ‘kit’, and ‘dust devil’; he leans over her work and says ‘that’s analog’ before exiting the cafe.

with a stunned countenance and a furrowed brow, she stares at the floor as he leaves; clearly upset, she looks around the room and once again looks into your eyes. this time you manage a sympathetic smile and slight shrug; she watches you for a moment, then stares fixedly at her table. figuring you have an opening now, which is to start up a conversation whilst she is too emotionally unstable to blow you off with ease, you gather your things and prepare your initial remarks, which should be centered on what book she is reading or what she trying to study.

you steel yourself for the approach. as you draw close, you find that her ‘work’ is not work at all, but it is, in fact, a crossword puzzle. to make matters worse, the puzzle is not from the ‘new york times’ or even ‘philadelphia weekly’; rather, it appears to be ripped from the ‘city paper’. embarrassed for her, you abort your approach; though panicked, you avoid missing a step as you stride past her table and onto the sidewalk, where you arrive in time to see the coke-bottled tweaker in blue descending walnut hill along baltimore ave, with a five gallon bucket tucked under each arm.

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Green Line Cafe

4239 Baltimore Ave
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

soymilk: no extra charge
fair trade: available
wifi: no access

2 Responses to “Green Line Cafe”

  1. the angry red planet » secret christians in west philadelphia - we will bury you

    […] no! there is an unnerving trend in west philadelphia which involves the use nubile, sensually dressed young ladies who are dispatched to your neighboring table in the cafe and your front door at home. they pose as normal students, only upon close inspection does one realize that they are, in fact, actual christians; the text they are studying is the ‘holy bible’ and the syllabus before them is actually a list of ‘watchtower’ drop off points. you speak to these cafe spies at the risk of a lecture with the intent to convert. […]

  2. Audrey Bawre

    I just saw your Satellite review on Craigs List, and I say it is spot on about Green Line.

    Green Line used to be cool to go down and get some studying done in peace and quiet any time of day. These days you can’t go in there without hearing at least 2 babies screaming or banging on the window – or you have to hear a bunch of stay-at-home investors meeting to brag about which houses or buildings in the area they just bought for 1/2 their worth.

    I heard they are opening a new Green Line on 45th, maybe it will be a return to form.

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