She is pacing the foyer, glancing every other second at her watch. Her expression is grim, the tight lines around her mouth are incredibly pronounced. She is pissed.
Who, I wonder, is going to bear her wrath when they walk through that front door? Is she meeting a friend who is chronically late by segments of half hours, and she’s fed up with it? Is her office mate standing her up? Her husband? Her boyfriend? Her sibling?
In walks an unremarkable gentleman. He glances around the foyer. He assesses the family of four, barely looks at two other suits who are giving their names to the maitre d’. Then he spies the waiting woman.
“Sandy?” he asks.
“Tim?” she asks.
They extend hands. He smiles hello. She responds in brilliant kind. She smiles like she has no care in the world. Date? Client? Sales prospect? How quickly she extinguished her white-hot anger when Tim arrived. Ready-to-kill to placid in less than 3 seconds. What’s next, Tim?
Later, I am walking home, and I wait at the corner for the light to change. I am standing next to a very obviously pregnant woman. I try to not be overt when I look at her outfit. So adorable is her pretty, fitted blue dress. So unlike the tents and sacks available to me back in the olden days. She looks happy and healthy; a slight smile tugs at the corners of her mouth.
A car pulls up and stops. The pregnant woman stares at the car for only a second, but there is no mistaking her perceptible, purposeful hesitation. Then, as her switch is flipped, she yanks open the car door and starts screaming–literally screaming, “Where the fuck have you been?”
As she tosses her bag in the back seat and attempts to gracefully situate her bulky form into the car’s passenger seat, her litany continues:
“You couldn’t give a crap about how long I’ve had to wait. God, always, you have to make me wait.” She continues to yell at the driver, but I can’t tell what is said after that because she pulls the door shut. The stoplight turns and they pull away.
Her husband? Boyfriend? Brother? Does he have any idea how happy and at peace she seemed to be until he came along? Placid to ready-to-kill in less than 3 seconds. But what about the baby? What’s next for the baby?
There he is, as always, the 20-something young man I see every day in the same place at the same time as I walk to work, usually saying goodbye to his mom. He is handsome and ponytailed, on the cusp between young adulthood and leaving behind his college ways. But on this day, his mom is standing very close to him, and he is smiling down at her. He cups his hand behind her head and draws her face toward his. They kiss–a long, lingering kiss that only happens in the movies or during the first month of dating someone new.
Well, now. I guess she isn’t his mom. I guess she never was. My mistake. Sorry. Not judging.
Because they look totally and completely in love as significant others to one another. Mom to no-one’s-mom in the very few seconds it takes for their lips to meet. What’s next for them when they tell their families and friends?
An elderly couple stands in my foyer, holding hands. How cute, I think. “We want one of your best tables,” he tells me. “It’s a special anniversary!”
I direct a host to take the lovebirds to a booth. They follow, still clasping each other’s hands. My God, I wonder, how do they still have it after all the years they have surely been together? How did they make it through all the ups and downs, and more downs? How do they still reach for each other’s hands, and still be there for each other?
“Hey, RG, that couple I just sat, guess what anniversary it is?” smirks my host upon returning to the podium.
“I give up–50th?”
“Ha! Try six months,” she revels in telling me. “They couldn’t stop kissing once I seated them. I did NOT need to see that!”
Hmm. I see, I guess.
Two women, so angry. One young man and one older woman, so clearly in passionate love. Two seniors, embracing their young love. What’s next for any of them? The big deal made? A divorce and the moniker of single mom? A continuing, difficult-to-explain-to-anyone affair? Happily every after, for as long as they have left?
For any of us–as glimpsed by the waiters and bussers and maitre d’s and hosts and event planners and GMs and all the rest of the managers, each of us summed up in the seconds of our best and worst moments–what’s next?