I am back at the Atrium Starbucks. It is late, or late for me to ever be here at 8PM on a mild Saturday night. My younger son is attending a birthday party nearby at one of those giant indoor inflatable jumping party places, where kids fling themselves mercilessly at the inflatables and each other until someone is injured and weeps bitterly. This is a certainty of occurrence. I know this because I have attended approximately 8.5 million inflatable jumping party place birthday parties. The people who run the joint should just have a paramedic jumping around with the kids. I have noticed that most of the inflatables are blood-red. Hmm. But tonight, I escaped. I feel giddy. I will not be able to escape so easily when my son also has his birthday party there in a couple of weeks. Sigh.

So on this lovely Saturday night, when I think most adults should be out with their s/o seeing a movie or having a sinfully-late exotic dinner or, ideally, bowling, I look around at my fellow Starbuckians and wonder why they are here. There are three couples. One of them looks to be in their upper-40s-to-early-50s, and have the easy mirrored movements of a pair that have been together a long time. The woman’s moderately-unfashionable jeans and Seattle Seahawks hoodie match well with her husband’s forest-green fleece sweater and equally-unfashionable jeans. What did I tell you about hoodies and fleeces here, huh? They seem calm and close, not exactly writhing in ecstasy but pleased in their coffee purchase and each other. It is easy to see them in another ten years, where the man will be grayer and a little stooped with what remains of his butt completely flattened, and the woman will pull back her fluffy brown curls into a sensible do, and will give up her Dansko clogs for the safety of the heelless flat with a seriously-cushioned insole. Maybe they will bring in a small rambunctious grandchild to spill a milk and eat only two bites out of a big Starbucks cookie before deciding he wants to go to the park across the street.

Then there is Couple #2. A date! Look at that. The man, who I hesitated calling a man for a second because he looks like a boy, is about 20 and is as cute as a button. He is in casual-clean mode, with faded out jeans, a shrimp-colored polo shirt, a khaki baseball hat, and HA! He is wearing the identical black canvas Nikes as me! I am not at all sure what that means. His date is also adorable, with voluminous long brown hair, tall chunky black suede boots with dark skinny jeans perfectly tucked into them, and a plain black sweater that says, “I look appealing but not desperate for attention.” They are talking a mile a minute, and clearly finished their coffees quite some time ago. They lean slightly towards each other as they speak, sometimes talking over each other in a rush to get their words out. Every so often the girl laughs, the boy/man smiles at her, and they never stop talking even for a minute. They like each other. This somehow pleases me and I smile a small smile in their direction at the damn cuteness of it all, but of course they do not see me whatsoever. It seems they will have a nice night.

The last couple must be in their late 70s or 80s. I am already impressed that they are out and about at 8:27PM (look how times flies, people) instead of whining about their medications and falling asleep to a PBS fund pitch at home. They are a sharp-looking elder two, the man natty in an army-green parka, a brown suede driving hat, and a plaid scarf. I will forgive him his Birkenstocks and black socks, something I normally would never do. The woman has a cute, short, and no doubt expensive haircut, a lime-green long fleece (fleece, again), red suede loafers with a gold buckle that catches the light nicely, and is tall and thin. They sit, only occasionally talking, reading the Seattle Times, and sipping at their Grande Whatevers. Maybe they do this every Saturday. Maybe it is their Date Night. The woman drops a piece of the newspaper on the floor, and I rescue it for her. She smiles very nicely at me, and says, “Oh thank you, sweetheart,” and I say, “No problem,” and smile back. She is from a kinder time. Maybe I am as well. They get up to leave and I notice the man has some trouble walking -- he shuffles and seems a little uncomfortable. I think about when they won’t come to Starbucks at night anymore, and how time is a real bitch. Maybe 50 years ago they sat together yabbering at a diner on a first date, and leaned towards each other and smiled and laughed like there was no one else around. And whoosh! Here they are.

Jump jump jump jump jump. Keep flinging yourselves out there, all you couples of the caffeinated night.