people watching

Hey there, I see you. Don’t think strangely of me if we make eye contact. Yes, I know it’s Saturday night and I am indeed in a booth alone. I’m not staring at you, I promise. I’m just people watching. It’s what I do. For a brief moment in time, you won’t even notice, I will simply absorb, perhaps steal a tiny portion of this moment from you. If you let me do my thing, I will move on to someone else in their room and I will steal moments from them.

It’s just one dinner, one cocktail or appetizer on one day of your life. It’s just one moment. But to me it’s more, I’m incredibly invested in it. You may not think of it as I do, but once this moment is gone all you will have is a memory. You may underestimate how precious that memory will be, but I don’t. See, I am not old enough to say that I will never be happy again, but I know that I am old enough that certain moments are forever past, others beyond my reach.  Vicariously is the only way I will experience them again.

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I see you, sir. The young guy with the pretty wife and 2 young children. You are having dinner. Your daughter is trying to get your attention for approval on the puzzle she just completed on her placemat. You’re on your phone. I would trade a thousand tomorrows to have one like you are having. Moments when I was a giant to them and my approval was everything. What you don’t know is a lot of the time I also was too wrapped up in what I was doing to pay attention to them. I want them back, all of them. Please, put the phone down. The text can wait. That disappointed look on her face…you can change that. If you don’t appreciate this moment, may I?

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I turn my attention to the young couple in the corner booth, barely able to keep their hands off of each other. Don’t mind me for staring, I’m not a creep I swear. It’s just that I can’t get over the way you are looking at each other. As if one would simply melt if the other left the table. It must be wonderful to be in love…would you tell me about it? You see, I don’t think that I have ever looked into someone’s eyes as you two are now. I want to but I doubt it now. I think we skipped that part and went right to bitterness and resentment. If it pleases you, could you do better than we did? Regardless, can I just enjoy yours for a while?

I catch the eye of Mr. Successful businessman at the bar. We nod and we then both look away. I see your $1000.00 suit, your Presidential Rolex and the drink that was poured from the top shelf. You clearly are doing great for yourself. Perhaps you are celebrating a promotion, a big close or merger. To your credit, you look like a guy with it all together. I’m happy for you. I struggled with money and success for my whole career. When I finally got close to wearing a smile like yours, I had to stop working. I hope you have something else in your life that makes you happy besides money. She’s a cruel mistress. But still, cheers. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous.

I take a sip of my drink and I zoom in on the happy couple at the other end of the bar. Older, smiling, looking at each other fondly as they speak. You are a couple that has been together for a long time. Your love has stood the test of time. Maybe you had it easy, but maybe you struggled with the marriage-crushing burdens of children, finances and work. If you did or didn’t you look like you made it through. I always wanted a love like yours. I hoped to someday say, in a crowded banquet hall, the words “I have been married to this beautiful woman, my best friend for 50 years” and soak in the applause.  It just didn’t work out that way. I am about to be, on Monday, the first member of my family ever to get divorced. It’s too late for me, but I’m really happy for you. If you look my way I’m not staring, I’m simply thinking about my three favorite things…

Could’ve
Should’ve
Would’ve

Who am I you ask? What am I doing here? I’m harmless I swear. You see, I am the petty thief of your moments. My satchel is full for now and I must go home.

14 thoughts on “people watching”

  1. This post put me on a roller coaster of emotion. I could have been you sitting there, as I am a keen people watcher as well. The only thing I noticed is that you seem a little harder on yourself than usual. Perhaps it’s the divorce. My parents considered me a failure for it. Twice. Let’s just say during a great deal of my adult life I was extremely shitty at making life choices. Choosing a compatible, normal, loving, non-abusive partner was my biggest weakness where marriage was concerned.
    You are not that old, you are intelligent, kind, selfless, an amazing friend and brother to other Masons whether you know them or they are complete strangers matters not one whit to you. You are also a fantastic writer and your wit and humor are off the charts!! I can assure you that if I were a single lady, I’d definitely be stalking you by now. So there is THAT to be thankful for😉💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am hard on myself. It grounds me. The same humility causes me to deflect your amazing praise, I am just trying to be the man my father wanted me to be.
      as for the married thing? You wouldn’t have to stalk me for very long lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I meant every word of it, I wish I could convey the just how much I meant them, mere words don’t seem sufficient. You are a rare and special person. I KNOW this because I am an empath and I can feel it in my bones. You’re energy just radiates goodness and kindness and love for your fellow man.
        I’m so happy that you had such an outstanding role model, my father just beat the brakes off of me for literally everything and has called me a failure since I was 12 years old. He really didn’t set the bar very high for me to achieve that much because the fact that in his eyes I was a failure was beat into my psyche.
        Well hell, I would’ve thought you would have ran from me. I like ‘em when they struggle😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is brilliant! I love the metaphor of the watcher being, not just the first person character, but the master thief … Time itself.

    I know there is a lot of yourself in this piece. I, too, don’t know how we get to those places in our lives, in spite of all our best efforts to avoid them. Things, I think, are stolen from us by erosion, by Time, and, sometimes, by our own inattention or distraction.

    I feel your pain, man. I do the same when I am out. I people-watch and play the shoulda/woulda/coulda game with myself. But that’s a game with no winners.

    Great writing as always!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t get to do the WordPress thing nearly as much as I’d like to any more, but your page is always a must-visit for me. Especially when I need a good laugh or just a smile.

        Like

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