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It was a normal day, not unlike any other Wednesday. A slight overcast, with blue skies mixed in here and there. Palm trees dancing in the breeze.

I chose a bistro table that set outside of Pastries & More near the entrance. The table lacked any sense of privacy as it faced the bustling parking lot shared with a major competitor, Coffee Beans. I watched as cars zipped in and out of parking spaces. Coffee Beans’ drive-through had a line of cars backed up almost into the street. I watched people as they rushed into Pastries & More empty handed, and reappeared five minutes later with armfuls of boxes of pastries, bags of soup, and cup holders full of choice lattes, smoothies, coffees and teas. One woman’s order was so large, a Pastries & More server had to help her carry her order to her car. I reasoned that she was probably buying for the office. I stifled a chuckle watching the bumbling employee carry the lightest of the load while the woman managesd two large oversized bags in one hand as she hobbled on her cane in the other. The server tripped over the bags twice. I figured it was only a matter of time before she’d have to run back into the cafe to replace the drinks she was in danger of spilling due to those pesky bags.

I settled in to indulge in my frozen caramel refreshment when I spotted them. Three women, huddled together at a table adjacent to mine, a large window pane between us. I could see them through the glass. There they sat, the three of them, clearly different from one another. This place was always full of senior citizens enjoying their morning coffee, breakfast and good fellowship. But these three women caught my eye.

First, there was the plain one. We’ll call her Jane. Plain Jane. She wore a plain pink t-shirt with a rounded neck and black yoga capris. Maybe she had just come from working out or was on her way to doing so. Either way, she struck me as being a simple woman. She wore a very plain bob hair style with exposed gray strands tucked behind her ear. Each woman carried a purse, but ordinary style of Jane’s stood out. It was black with brown leather straps, very basic. There were no trinkets, dangles, or tags revealing a brand name. Just a black and brown purse. Her gold post earrings were the kind that graced the lobes of little girls getting their ears pierced for the first time. Plain Jane.

Then there was the one next to Jane. She looked like a Barbara. Like Jane, her haircut was a classic bob, but different. It was shorter, jazzier. Her touch of bronze highlights gave her a sense of youth. Her bangs were tossed across her forehead. She meant for them to look careless and effortless, but nothing about her was careless. Her makeup was subtle, giving the impression of a natural glow. She took her time preparing to meet with these ladies. It was obvious. She was the type to take her time with everything. Her white, peasant shirt fell just right against her mid section, careful not reveal too much of her figure. It was the perfect top for her striped capris. Her white, natural stone dangles complemented the whole outfit. But she liked giving the appearance of being bold. Her oversized, bright orange, name brand tote told that story.

Finally, the third lady. She looked like an Anne. Anne didn’t try to appear to be simple by any means. She was well put together. 9:30 a.m. and Anne was enjoying her meeting among friends in a common cafe wearing an elegant, short sleeved, black top that complimented every curve. She made sure of it. Despite her age she dawned a tight pair of denim, skinny capris, intending to remind the world she is a woman first and foremost before anything else. Her makeup, like Barb’s, was well planned minus the subtleties. Bold blue shadow was accented by a bold liner over her eyelids. Her highlights were bronze like Barb’s, but with intended color variation. This woman had spunk and anyone who encountered her would know it. Her sunshine, yellow canvas tote was just the touch of pizzazz she needed – wanted to bring out the spunk in her style. It was clear she used the tote for business as her portfolio peeked out of the top, but that didn’t mean it had to be ordinary.

I watched them, the three of them – friends conducting business. They were serious about their venture, whatever it was. But Jane didn’t seem as devoted as the other two. She listened. She engaged. No portfolios, no totes, no materials, no care in how she presented herself for this meeting. She was the first to leave. But there Barb and Anne remained in Jane’s absence. Engaged. Reviewing notes as they laughed and sipped their coffees.

To these three women, the two go-getters and the one that may need to be pushed into action now-and-then, fashion is everything. One gets it right, one tries, and one doesn’t care but knows she cleans up well. She’s the one the other two always shake their heads at and say ‘That’s just Jane‘. Three friends. I suppose I related most to Jane. Simple; taking one day at a time; appearing to not have a care in the world but instead caring too much.

Barb seemed to be competing with Anne. And Anne could stand on her own, content with Barb’s envy of her – thriving on it. It was all she had to hide her discontent home life. What would people think if they knew? But Jane knew. She could see right through these women. She knew them well. Unable to stomach too much of their perfect-life facades in one visit, she makes every visit short. Jane would arrive dressed to leave so she would have a reason to escape these intolerable women when she tires of them. They can’t hide anything from plain Jane.

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