A delivery truck from the city’s once venerable brewery growls and is suddenly silent. As I cross the street, stoop over the leaves and branches cut off from the espalier growing on the corner-facade, and over the threshold, I stand facing the bar. I’m greeted by a welcoming nod, the hum of the espresso-machine and Erann DD on the stereo.
As the waiter wipes off the head from the espresso machine, he waves at someone on the street. I take a seat in the narrow space between the table and the outer wall. My back to the truck outside, i face the café from my corner. Upon having moved the candle and the flower from my wobbly oak table, I take out my laptop and start to write. Before I know it – my cortado arrives, with a crunchy croissant on the side. The music changes to a salsa-jazz-lounge-mix that could hardly offend the ears of anyone. “Smooth operator”.
I have never felt comfortable working or writing in cafés. It’s an exhibitionist urge that I have never had much sympathy for. As things are however – I am charged with embodying the space. That’s right people.
As my eyes sweep across the room, passing 60’s upcycled furniture, French movie posters, black and white photos and the wine bottles framing the arched windows. I see more leaves falling past, as the gardener takes care of business. Strong sunlight gleaming in the windshield of the Mitsubishi behind him.
A father and daughter are the only other visitors at this early hour. Laughing and conversing over brunch, the father coughs. Happy 80’s pop now on the stereo, I feel a buzzing in my pocket. Katrine is done at the doctor. She’ll be here to join me soon… I wonder whether I’ll be able to work while she’s here, but decide that it’s part of my experience of being here.
It occurs to me, that I’m actually happy hiding behind my laptop. I have been here before, but never alone, and always to drink the discounted beer that architecture students get. At these times we have always been sitting outside or in the other end of the oblong room. Today the atmosphere is different. I am here to work. The morning light floods the room, yet the lights are still on and the candles burn.
My crossaint breaks between my teeth and a buttery sensation grows across my pallet. A swip of cortado later I look up as the waiter asks if everything is to my liking. The chairs are all recycled and all look like classics. Eames and Arne are both well represented. If they are real or not don’t really affect the atmosphere – except for me wondering about it.
90’s smooth hip-hop. I can’t help wondering whether everything is scratched on purpose. Nothing is new except for the humming coffee-monster behind the bar. Making itself noticed with blue LED’s running down the side. To get that in my line of sight however, I have to move my head slightly, to look past one of the classic round steel lamps that hang in a line, precisely following a kink in the facade, reflecting only vague shapes through their wear-and-tear.
I swap at a fly. Missing it, I look at the window sill behind me and notice the many magazines. Suddenly I’m blinded, as the truck drives off. A skinny, feminine looking asian man is opening his boutique designer store across the street.
Katrine arrives. She orders a pain au chocolat and a cortado. Smiles. Walks across the creaking floor and sits down across from me. The space changes completely. Now my focus is no longer on the terracotta tiles in the window frames or the old fashioned heater hidden in the panel behind me, but on her eyes, her Band-Aid from getting a hepatitis vaccination, and on my jealousy of her still having some of her croissant left. My mouth waters involuntarily. A Harley Davidson drives by and interrupts our conversation.
Katrine remarks that it’s a nice place, but that it doesn’t have the same beautiful glass ceiling as another café we frequent. The end wall of the room is painted brown and has more relaxed lounge furniture in front of it. A focal point in the room. She also points out that the black and white photos on the wall are actually a series by Helmut Newton, showing naked women in different positions. One of them with one woman spanking another. She saw an exhibition of his work in Berlin a few years ago.
Katrine is going on a weekend trip with her friends, she suggests that she might go and look for shoes for her brother’s wedding in two weeks. I still need a suit. The father and daughter are leaving. I have a vague sensation, that the music has changed in the background. Katrine plays with her hair.
There’s a certain undefinable time span, from when I empty my coffee, until I start feeling as if I have overstayed my welcome. The staff of course have more important things to do, than to care about such notions, but I still feel as if they are thinking, ‘buy something or leave’… With one last look at the large ‘train station’ clock protruding from the wall. I grab my leather jacket and my bag and walk up to pay.
Café Drudenfuss, Aarhus