People Watching


Sitting in a Starbucks, drinking hot tea on a day that’s in the 90’s, the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend.  I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself.  See, I actually have a girlfriend.  I’m lucky that way.  But she is rather busy of late, and I don’t see her very much.  Regardless, it would never be enough.  I’m just that kind of guy.  I love being with her.  She has tremendous energy and it feeds me.  Some people bring out the best in us.  Some, not so much.   I’m beginning to realize, again, that it’s entirely up to me.

For example, I’m here at Starbucks, reading, drinking my tea, etc.  When I walk in, I notice a woman looking at me, and she offers a smile.  She is sitting with a man who I assume is her boyfriend or husband.  After grabbing my tea, I make my way to the bar for honey.  Yes, I’m drinking green tea with honey.  In Starbucks.  On Memorial Day weekend.  So what?  Perhaps that’s why Danielle has been so “busy;” she’s waiting for me to nut up and order a triple espresso with dirt in it.  Oh, and rescue a kitten from a burning building.  One thing at a time, though.

My writing usually turns her on, so we’re good.

Back to what I was saying, er, typing…  I was putting my manly-ass honey into my tough-as-shit Zen tea and I notice that the woman and her companion are looking at me.  I glance, and realize he is missing his right leg.  And–get this–he’s wearing long pants.  His right leg is tied in a knot.  Skinny dude, average looking, he offers me a similar smile.  I give him a knowing nod: Yeah, buddy.  Me and you.  We get it.  The rest of these people have no idea.  Respect.    And so on.  Well, not really.  But there’s an unspoken understanding.

I sit with my tea and open up my laptop, trying to get on the ‘net.  You know, that web of world-wide renown.  I can’t figure it out.  I have to somehow promise my first-born to Starbucks and AT&T, but I don’t know which is the human sacrifice button on this thing.  There’s a dude sitting next to me with one of those notebooks.  Those things that are really small yet somehow carry more information than the Hall of Records.  OK, I’m not sure there even is a Hall of Records.  But if there were, imagine how big it would have to be.  Then imagine all that info.  Then imagine a little bit more.  OK, got it?  There, that’s how much data is in this guy’s notebook.  I’m assuming, of course.  Probably filled with Dutch midget porn, Mexican burro racing, and fantasy football stats from the past ten years.  But then again, how would anyone truly know?  So I lean over and ask the dude how to procure internet here in this fine establishment.  He tells me I have to accept Starbucks’ terms and conditions (see above baby donation comment) and I’m on my way into the magical world of “I’m surfing the web.  Now what?”

Now, all this while, I’m keeping an eye on the couple that had been looking and smiling at me.  That’s when it dawns on me.  I’m witnessing a first date!!  Makes perfect sense.  Sunday afternoon.  Starbucks.  Holiday weekend.  These two are losers, just like me, with nowhere to be and they scheduled this little rendezvous for today.  See, it’s early enough in the day that if they want, they could go on to dinner and whatever.  It’s also early enough in the weekend with tomorrow being a holiday, that if they end up rolling around in the sack later tonight, they won’t have to rush out of bed early tomorrow.  Holy Cow!  I am witnessing the single-most awkward moment in a human being’s life.  First dates are brutal.  I pray I never have to go through one of them again (you listening, woman?).  As I come to this realization, I start paying closer attention.  She’s staring out the window, offering comments like “I don’t watch reality TV” and “can you believe my cat ate the whole thing?”  This was rough, but I could not look away.  We’re all sickos, admit it.  You would have all watched me get hit by that train, if out of nothing but morbid curiosity.  Shit, I myself am still waiting for it to turn up on YouTube!

So here’s this couple, going over their likes and dislikes, struggling to establish comfortable eye contact.  Then I realize she’s looking at me.  Oh, fuck.  Perhaps she’s a fetishist.  Sick bitch is into amputees.  Well, sorry ma’am, but we don’t play that.  Oh, wait.  Yes we do.  This guy is in the interview of his life.  He has been through much worse, but trust me, he really feels it now.  How long will it be until his next first date?  What if she tells everyone what a dullard he is?  Or worse, what if it actually works out???  And her, poor thing, out for the first time with a man who is missing something that does not include money, a job, or a dwelling outside his grandmom’s basement.  And she’s thinking similarly dreadful thoughts.  What if I don’t like him?  Does that make me a bad person?  What if I do like him?  How does she explain this?  How does she introduce him to family?  Does she give him a cute nickname like Speedy or Hop-along?  It is brief, but I catch the look.  I can read her thoughts: how do I do this?

I’ve been through this scenario and it’s a tough one.  I wonder how they met.  Did he post a profile online?  Do they have a mutual friend?  If it’s a set up, who takes the blame/credit?  Was she aware that he’s missing a leg?  Does it really matter?  I know, I know.  All you sensitive ladies out there are saying, “Hell no, it doesn’t matter.  As long as he’s a nice guy.”  But let’s be honest.  There’s no way this guy is without his insecurities.  How long will it be before these become too much and he runs her off?  How much does he overcompensate by doting, showering her with gifts, and putting her on a pedestal?  And how long before she tires of having to wait for him.  I mean, how long does it take to put on ONE FUCKING SHOE?  How long before he gets angry at her impatience?  Fact is, it takes a special woman (or man, if the situation were reversed) to be in a committed relationship with a person with any kind of physical “defect.”  Even if a man leaves for war whole and returns without an arm or a leg, that would greatly change the relationship.  Shit, relationships are difficult as is.  And here are these two, potentially starting one they both know will not be without its hurdles.

As I ponder, this guy does something that made me admire him.  Musta worked on her too.  See, I have long said that people who are missing legs have it exponentially harder than I.  Mobility is often taken for granted.  I know this feeling because, as those of you who know me well-enough know, I get gout and it is NOT pretty.  So, the guy stands up with one crutch and makes his way to the bar for sugar or half-and-half (no, that’s not a leg joke.  Fuckin’ pricks.)  A few minutes later, he gets up again and this time, without his crutch, hops over to the trash to dispose of refuse properly.  I shit you not, he sits back down, the woman is all lit up and laughing.  She’s enjoying herself.  Fuck, if I’m this relieved, I can only imagine how elated this guy is.  Seeing this guy overcome his condition has put her at ease.  How cool is that?  I wonder, yet again, how they met.  Did she walk in to find him sitting there, half leg under the table.  And then, when he got up to greet her, did he fall over?  Hahahaha, how fucked up would that be?  You know this guy has a sense of humor.  If not, she woulda bailed quickly.  There are some people out there with challenges and they’re all bitter about them and they let the world know just how hard and regrettable their lives are.  Jesus, I hope I never become that.  Then there are those silver-lining people; no matter what life throws at them, they keep that positive mental outlook that sustains them.  I strive to be that guy.  It’s difficult, yes.  But, oh, so rewarding.  A few minutes later they’re heading out from the cafe, hopfully–I mean HOPEFULLY–to the next segment of their terrific first date.  The one they’ll be telling their friends and coworkers about.  Chalk one up for the underdog.

So, I’m going to finish my UFC-watching, bomb-exploding, steroid-shooting Zen green tea with honey and continue watching people for  a little bit longer.  A couple just walked in and they’re both magnetically drawn to whatever is happening on his phone.  They’re probably checking their fake match profile: Hopful man for open-minded woman.  Good luck, douchebags.

Yes, I just completely judged these two people.  So what?  First impressions are meant to be disproven.  Just ask my boy Speedy.  On second thought, for their sake, I hope she names him Takes-a-Little-Longer-to-Get-There.  He didn’t look Cherokee to me, though.  Speaking of pow wows, I’m off to hopefully have one of my own.

As always, thank you for reading.  Subscribe, comment, and pass it on!!!

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