Monday, August 8, 2011

guessing game

almost all of the restaurant's customers prefer sitting outside for lunch. who wouldn't? the weather is perfect; the view of the sea peeking over the sand dunes is serene. we order drinks and study the menu. my husband pecks away on his iphone deleting junk mail and prioritizing priority mail. i am reminded of a 50's sitcom with the silent husband hidden behind his newspaper ignoring the wife while the wife brandishes a frypan in front of the stove—a somewhat frightening image. but life goes on; information in the 21st century is simply delivered in a new form and, fortunately, i simply am not that kind of wife nor is my husband that kind of husband—quite simply, because he knows he'd be in deep trouble.

black clouds troop down from the north and start to muscle out the sun. i look around and do some people watching. a young man and woman lean across their table, whisper a few syllables, kiss. definitely engaged-to-be-married or newlyweds. (but i can't see their left hands so i can't be sure.) another couple, closer to our age, eats burgers and a mountain of french fries, in fact they are each built like a mountain of french fries.with heavy southern drawls they gab about somebody's new cadillac. i catch myself staring at two beautiful young women, too beautiful, and they know it. at the table beside ours an elderly gentleman holds the chair for an elderly lady who has difficulty walking and, once she's settled, pushes it gently toward the table, hovering over her, attending to her needs.

in my head i begin guessing about these people. where do they come from? what do they do? what are they like? what are their interests? there are general hints, certainly, in their outward attitudes and appearances. (those must be newlyweds, unquestionably on their honeymoon, right?) but then ultimately appearances can be deceiving, isn't that so? words reveal much more, they leave behind a good trail of scattered clues about the inside of a person.

it starts raining. everyone picks up their plates and glasses and belongings and makes a dash indoors, everyone, that is, except us. they needn't have worried; they wouldn't have gotten too wet. there is a roof over most of the outdoor dining area. i guess moody weather just disturbs some people; the sheer unpredictability of it all.

my husband has put away his phone and is enjoying his beer. we are not bothered by rain and wind, the distant thunder; in fact we like it. for us, the sound of a warm summer storm ushers in a soothing, free feeling.

we smile at each other and make plans for the rest of the day. i guess i'll never know if my game of imagined stories comes even a tiny bit close to each person's real story.

so many people. so many stories.

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