Monthly Archives: May 2017

Mokai Mouths

Mokai being the local chirringuito (seasonal beach bar/café) where I’ve hung out the past few summers.

This was from an exercise I did for a writing workshop.  Task = go to a cafe or restaurant you frequent and pay attention to people’s mouths.  Focus more on observation than story-telling.


Blonde beardy boy, neither hipster beardy (is that’s what he’s trying for?) nor Spanish sexy beardy, sucks his fingers, one by one, then wipes his mouth with a reasonably useless scrap of a napkin that comes from the dineresque dispenser/menu holder. He continues to chew once his fingers are out of his mouth. Was he sucking his fingers with a mouth full of food?

His girlfriend is also a chewer. Her left cheek is fuller than her right, like a chipmunk favoring one side of its mouth. Maybe she’s just been to the dentist. Maybe she needs to go to one.


The older local people here tend to keep their mouths closed more than the younger tourists. They speak when they have something to say, enjoying their time and soaking in in the salty sea air, as opposed to succumbing to the urge/need to fill the breezy void with their desire to be heard. Sometimes it’s more pleasant to listen to the sea than to hear yourself speak. Maybe they’ve learned that with age. Or maybe they’ve just run out of things to talk about.


The black straw of his raised drink hovers a few inches below his mouth, like a mini microphone. He runs his tongue between his teeth and the insides of his cheek while he’s talking, trying to dislodge whatever’s left of his lunch before he slurps down that last slug of sangria. Setting his glass down, he scratches and tugs on one ear. His mouth simultaneously open and closes, a ventriloquist’s dummy whose controls are attached to his earlobe.


There’s a new waiter this year, not an unusual occurrence. He’s a bit more efficient than previous models and friendly, albeit a bit aloof.

He repeats my order back to me in English, even though I gave it in Spanish. He sounds Eastern European, and I remember him doing the same thing a couple weeks ago. Is my Spanish so shit that he needs to check his understanding? Does he just like to practice? Does he want me to know I don’t have to try to speak Spanish because he’s more comfortable with English?

He looks a bit rough around the edges (in a good way) and his rare smile reveals crowded, crooked and tobacco-stained teeth. He looks more like a carny than a chirringuito waiter (again, in a good way).


She licks her lower lip before bringing the cigarette to her mouth. Her face tightens as she inhales, like she’s sitting on a vacuum cleaner that’s pulling everything inwards. She floats her hand to the side, like Norma Desmond motioning to someone in the wings, trying keep the cigarette away from her and her friend (yes, yes, yes, darling, it’s a terrible habit but one must have a vice, mustn’t one?). Her face is now relaxed, lips full and mouth open. She gazes at the cigarette like it’s a camera attached to her selfie-stick arm. She makes an open-mouthed fish-lip face as the smoke wafts from her body in a lazy cloud.

Her friend waits for her to re-engage in their conversation, her own mouth alternately occupied by a skinny, hand-rolled cigarette and one of the two black straws sticking out of her fruity cocktail. Her mouth bobs between the rollie and the straw, then back to the rolli, never missing a beat. Like she’s doing alternating sets of two different exercises at the gym. Her lips are always slightly apart unless they’re engaged with smoke or drink.


Some guy joins another guy, who has been sitting with his mobile since I got here, at his table. They exchange hellos and consult each other about beverages, then order dos cañas, por favor (draft beer is always a safe bet, and they score points for being polite) from the carny camarero.

The newcomer is very chatty (perhaps nervously so) and clearly Spanish, what with the way the tip of his tongue darts in and out between his teeth while making that sound that lives somewhere between “s” and “c”. His tablemate, who has long since put down his phone, grins to one side, his lips semi-revealing what appears to be perfect, glistening smile. The grinner’s eyes never leave chatty boy’s mouth. He leans in ever so slightly.

If one were to fill in the thought bubble above his head, it’d read something like “I’m not really thirsty. Let’s get to part two of this Grindr date so you can put that tongue to better use.”


She’s the only person here wearing lipstick, a pinkish coral. She has mirrored, oversized tortoiseshell shades. Her highlighted hair is pulled back into a lazy ponytail. She drinks white wine and talks on her mobile … the old-fashioned way, holding it against one ear. She sets down the wine and slowly raises one patata brava at a time to her mouth, using an oversized toothpick as a skewer. She gently holds the cube of deep-fried starch between her front teeth while she pulls the stick out.

She has some more wine.

When she eats her hummus-covered pita, she puts it in her mouth then bites off a corner. She places the rest back on her plate before closing her mouth.

No food ever touches her lips.

I will have to try this at home

She never stops her cell phone conversation.

Her earrings are amazing.


Carny camarero delivers the beers to chatty boy and his still grinning friend.  They thank him (ever the polite ones) and ask for la cuenta (when he has the time). He walks over to the touchscreen that’s mounted on a pillar. His mouth moves as he taps in the commands needed to print the bill. Is he talking to himself? Reciting lines for an audition? Practicing his English or Spanish? Quietly telling off the table who recently left without leaving him a tip?


It’s almost 25° out, but the guy sitting next to me is wearing a knitted cap. Coldplay fans never die, they just grow ginger caterpillars under their nose. His moustache looks like it has wax in it.

Maybe his girlfriend wanted a mustache too, but since she couldn’t match his she has opted for a piercing between her left nostril and upper lip. There is a beauty mark under her right nostril in the same area. Never confuse symmetry with balance.


The French waiter from last year (somehow more kissable than last season) brings a picture of orange something (a quick carta consultation says it’s cava with mango and peach) to mannequin mouth and his buddies. They’re clearly here for the afternoon.

And things are getting serious: they are now drinking without straws.

What is that boy’s name? I asked him countless times last year and it never stuck. They usually don’t return for a second season, but that’s no excuse.

His chin fuzz is a lit little less wiry this year and a little more filled out, but still not enough to be called a proper goatee. His smile is a little more genuine than I remember. His teeth are whiter. His arms are more defined.  His haircut a soupçon more stylish.

He says hola to me as he sidles between the tables and I nod and say bon jour. Does he remember me or is he just being friendly?

He flashes that smile, his upper lip lined by a pencil-thin moustache … more because that’s all he can grow than because he wants to make an ironic statement.

Chirringuito waiters are rarely just being friendly.

Yes, totally more kissable this year.

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