When Life Gives You Lemons Have Chocolate Cake (Plus a Few Glasses of Wine)

We had no idea what to expect that night and frankly I was getting a little nervous. The GPS said we were just two miles away however the neighborhood was looking sketchy—at least not the kind of place my Jewish grandma would have deemed safe for her little bubala to be wandering.

I was the one who planned the outing in Jacksonville, Florida, 80 miles away from our home turf of Flagler Beach. I had assured my friend Tim that I had done my homework and that The Three Layers Coffee House was going to be a great place to sell our books. The only problem was my estimates were based solely on an email conversation with the manager and a few fancy website images that promised whipped cream topped chocolate cakes (I’m a sucker for cake).

We pulled up to the one story brick café and parked. Little tables lined the side of the building and funky Jazz streamed out the open door.

It looked friendly enough, but how could we know this was going to be the place for us?

Tim and I looked at each other with weary glances.

“Once we go in we can’t back out, ” Tim said.

I just looked at him, unsure.

“I guess we just have to go for it.” I said

And with that we stepped out of the car and headed in. A number of people sat about the well lit room, sipping their espresso cups, nibbling on treats as they enjoyed the band.

three layers

Upon arrival we were directed to the wine bar, a separate room in the back, dark and cozy, where a small area had been designated for us.

Behind the bar stood a woman with an air of casual comfort, her red hair pulled back into a pony tail. She welcomed us and introduced herself as Amy, the manager of the aptly named “Amy’s Wine House”


After hauling an automobile’s weight in boxes and supplies, we laid out our table cloth, set up our wares and followed the routine set up. And so, with our table looking lovely we waited for the crowds to pour in.

And we waited.

And waited.

Two glasses down and our only potential customer was a drunken looking fellow who left as quick as he came and two young women who appeared to not even notice our elaborate set up.

And so Tim and I had soup… desserts… a little more wine… and nothing.

Not only did we not sell a single book, no one even came by to look at them.

Now, had we been in the wrong mindset, this could have been one crappy evening. Rearranging schedules, spending gas money and time…it was a set up for complete and utter frustration.

However, not once did we look at each other with disappointment. In fact, quite the opposite. We were relaxed and happy, savoring good wine, casual conversation in a funky, new setting. Sure we weren’t selling books, but we both chose to make it a good time anyhow.

With no other customers that night Amy, our barista had plenty of time to chat with us. Amy’s knowledge of Beatles trivia appeared (to this Beatles rookie anyway) to rival Tim’s own, and Tim, impressed with Amy’s music knowledge promised to air one of Amy’s pick songs on his radio show (Surf 97. FM).


We left that night with a new friend, some left over of chocolate cake and a reminder that even though things may not go as planned, they can still go wonderfully.




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