Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002, 1:08 AM

Coffee shop ramblings

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Squirrel Hill called the 61C, so named for the bus line that stops just outside the front door. The girl at the table in front of me is wearing lowcut jeans and a tight shirt that pulls up from the waist when she bends over her table to write in the tablet sprawled on her table, and affords me a view of the top of some lilac colored underwear. I am a voyeur by nature. She is thin and beautiful and has a belt full of grommets wrapped tightly around her svelte waist.

I recognize the guy who just walked in the door. His name is Austin. He plays at being Bohemian, and acting younger than he is. That's a pretty funny comment considering that he is my age. You may ask the question "what the hell are you doing there, trying to act or feel younger yourself?" Perhaps. But more likely I am just trying to escape the self-imposed exile I am suffering after leaving my wife in my apartment. She will not be my wife for much longer. Two days, two days, seems like a long time to wait to file for divorce. Irreconcilable differences perpetuated by infidelity. The differences lie in many things, but in particular is the disturbing desire she has to share herself with other men regardless of my feelings. Sorry, but that is not what I signed up for when I slipped that ring onto your finger. One of those rare times when I can say "that wasn't in my contract" and mean it.

A room full of voyeurs all sitting alone watching the couple at the table in the center of the room. All pretending to be preoccupied with a book, or tablet, or laptop. It is a strange state of affairs this coffee shop pantomime-all silent, all watchful, all performing for the sake of the others and watching for a reaction.The most attractive and depraved tend to frequent places such as this, and I have to wonder where the middle of the road pass their time.

I want to reach out and gently stroke that inviting patch of exposed skin on the girl one seat ahead of me. I am tortured as I once was in the classroom forever staring at the girl in front of me, close enough to see the outlines of her undergarments and to catch her scent when she moved.

Beauty, beauty everywhere, so much so I can't think. A constant distraction to writing and working. Place me in a room filled with people and I suddenly contract ADD. Constantly scanning the group for signs of myself, my potential, my past, my eroticism, my shortcomings, my faults, my beauty and my sloth, and always finding it looking for the same in me. This ballet of non-committal glances and subtle gestures conveyed through the lifting of a glass or cup to the lips.