I probably observe more than I participate in life.
Yesterday, I encountered a group of people who were sitting on a patio about to enjoy an afternoon meal together. The group was comprised of three women, one man, and a newborn baby. All four adults order beer and entrees; the man clearly tells their server that he would like a side of ranch dressing for his french fries. As they wait for their food, the three women converse with each other. At first it seems like idle chit-chat: shopping, the weather, weekend plans, etc. But one of the women regales how as a girl, when she watched the weather forecast on the news, she always through that the meteorologist was saying “windshield” instead of “windchill.” She goes on to explain to her friends that she always wondered why a car windshield was so important where weather was concerned and that it wasn’t until she entered college that she finally understood that she had been mistaken all these years. I eavesdropped in awe: was this woman serious?
Now, don’t call me judgmental; in my first years of speaking, I pronounced spaghetti “basketti.” I also called Raymond, a family friend, “Rainman.” I’ll never forget the moment when I made the horrible realization that even at five years old, I sounded like an idiot. But my parents probably thought that it was cute, their daughter going about ordering fictitious food and insinuating that grown men were retarded. This woman must have been told at some point that her windshield/windchill confusion was really friggin’ adorable. She must have gotten a lot of pats on the head. But as much as I was engrossed in this harrowing tale of self-enlightenment, my focus was on this guy in the group. Clearly he was the husband of one of these women, brought along to amuse his newborn son while the mother could catch up with her old college room mates or something. The man didn’t even give a smile until the food arrived. He praised the server for remembering his ranch dressing: “You know, maybe one out of five servers actually remember to bring the ranch when I ask for it… thank you!” The server smiled sheepishly, most likely unsure about the sincereity of his grateful statement. He ate quietly as the women continued to talk about something unimportant, maybe bikini waxing or tennis elbow. The best part occurred when everyone had finished eating: the man put his sunglasses over his eyes and fell asleep. The women around him, including his wife, thought it was cute: “Poor guy! The baby must be exhausting him. We shouldn’t bother him.” Yeah, he was probably tired but if I were him, I would have fallen asleep much earlier in the conversation.
All joking and judgment aside, this encounter made me think more about relationships. I guess I can consider that all of my relationships with men have been field studies in my constantly changing conclusion about how relationships work. Of course, I keep in mind that everyone is different, to each his own, blah blah blah. No one has written the book on life, but I do like to ask people about their experiences in an effort to compile my own ideals for what I want. I also think a lot about my previous experiences. Some might say that maybe I dwell in the past, but I think that the past is important. I recently ran into an ex-boyfriend. I would later recall the concept of closure and how the book/film “High Fidelity” portrays it as an important step in moving on from a break-up for John Cusack’s character. But we don’t always get closure and sometimes, well, people just don’t give a fuck. That’s life. There used to be a time when answerless questions would keep me up at night: What was I thinking? Why did I stay for so long? When did we lose touch? Over the years, I’ve figured out that these questions were tormenting. Because once you ask them of yourself, even without answers, they don’t disappear. They return once you have entered a new relationship, acting like a shield of armor. You have to decide how to compartmentlize these thoughts. Everyone wants to protect themselves from getting hurt, but if you’re not too careful, the one whom you might want to be with might lose his/her patience with penetrating that suit of armor and give up. I’d like to think that if he/she truly cared maybe they wouldn’t give up, but I’m a realist. I think that I still do believe in Love, but it’s not easy. Love and relationships interest me as a writer and a human being. And well, doesn’t that sleepy guy from the patio love his wife and kid? Why else would he put himself through that miserable conversation?