The man who grunted into a chair at the table next to me at Aroma Sokolov had fleshy overworked fingers with hair thicker than he had on his head. A tan sweater, a size too tight for him, outlined the bulge of his belly, and his eyes and nose were watery from the droplets of exhaust that shiver in the air on a Holon winter morning. He unfolded his free copy of Yisra’el Hayom and, in response to a query from a young man at the counter, held up two of those fingers. He flipped the paper to look at the forecast, shook his head, settled back in his chair, and addressed me.
“Dry January, right? But then each year is drier than the last.”
I nodded and gave him a smile with which I tried to say “You know it!” And also “I’m kind of busy so leave me alone.”
“But that cloudburst last night? Did you catch it? At two in the morning?”
When I didn’t respond, he nodded in the direction of the counter. “That’s my son, Niv. He’s getting married next week.”
“Mazal tov,” I said, without an exclamation point.
“He’s a good kid. Great girl, too.” Niv, drumming a riff on the counter while he waited, had a runner’s build and a frazzle of rusty hair.
“Looks it,” I said, keeping my eyes on my laptop screen.
He gave up and returned to the newspaper. “Niv!” said a loudspeaker voice and a minute later the son placed a tray on the table and sat down. He carefully, respectfully lifted a glass mug of kafe hafukh from the bright orange tray and put it in front of his father, followed by a small plate bearing a jelly donut and two tiny metal jugs of hot milk. Tearing a packet of sugar with his teeth, he sweetened his own hafukh, which remained on the tray. From a pants pocket he drew an iPhone and positioned it next to the coffee. The two of them sipped silently, long enough for me to get focused and forget they were there.
“Did you catch that cloudburst at two a.m.?” the father suddenly said.