The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: The Power of Observation

May 18, 2007

The Power of Observation

Wherever I go these days, my eye seems to be drawn to couples. They are on the train, walking on the street, at restaurants. They are laughing, holding hands, gazing into each other's eyes.
I can only assume that the couples have been there all along and that I, as a Singleton, have deftly avoided seeing them for the last ten years. But now that I have joined the ranks of the Newly Dating, I'm like one of those annoying gapers on the highway, delaying traffic, staring at something that is clearly none of my business.
There’s a part of me that is watching for hope of what is to come. For these, I ferret out the seasoned couples, the ones who’ve been together for a while. I observe the couple in their seventies—he still calls her his girl and holds her hand when they cross the street. I spy on the couple sitting together at a restaurant--with two words and a smile, they know everything there is to know about each other’s thoughts. I eye the couple teasing each other mercilessly--they have the perfect ease of those who know they are loved by another unconditionally.
Around those couples, I’m like a detective, taking notes, getting clues and piecing together the puzzle of what my Coupledom could be like. I secretly hope that just by being around couples like them, I have a possibility of learning how to make this strange thing called a relationship work for the long haul.
And then, there’s the dark part of me that is watching for my worst relationship fears. I watch for strain and tension, listen for passive aggressive language. I never fail to be drawn to couples who, while in the same relationship, are at very different places from each other. For some reason, they cannot get their timing right. He likes she-who-is-afraid-of-intimacy. She adores he-who-is-about-to dump-her.
I can spot the body language of the un-synced a mile away. He is often too eager, over solicitous, ever conscious of her needs, no matter how slight. Her tone towards him reveals her unspoken annoyance.
Or perhaps it is she who is in the throes of adoration. She leans in, her face turned towards him, eyes shining with open hope. He watches but doesn’t see her. He sits back, a vague smile on his face. He is already gone.
When I point out these observations to my Someone, he shakes his head, smiles, but says little else. I’m not sure if he finds this line of discussion morbid, or merely amusing. Then I quietly wonder if he finds me morbid, or merely amusing. I try not to interpret his silence in any way at all. But somewhere inside, a small voice whispers, “Please don’t let that be us.”
I want to ask what he thinks about this. I want desperately to know if he sees the same thing as I do. I want to hear him say that this could never be us.
I debate about whether to push the issue and I decide to let it go. They are not us. We are not out-of-step. We are just another couple in a Starbucks on a mid-week date.
I smile at my Someone and reach across the table for his hand. And I wonder if anyone is watching us, wondering if I'm that girl, leaning in, my face turned towards him, eyes shining with open hope.


Rachel said...

You said "ferret"!

DiDa said...

exactly what i feel