Saturday, March 18, 2006

Coffeeshop Couple

I thought about whether or not it was appropriate to write about this. But then I thought: if it was appropriate for them to have this discussion - LOUDLY - in public, then, shit yeah, it's appropriate for me to write about it.

So I'm sitting in my favorite coffee shop, minding my own business, grading some papers. I've said "hi" to the guy at the table in the corner - which is the table next to mine - because I've seen him there before. He's working at his laptop, I'm writing comments on papers, and all is right with the world.

Then, a woman walks in, directly to his table (she obviously knows him, I think). They kiss hello (bingo!). They start to chat. I'm not paying attention, beyond having noticed the kiss. I hear little snippets of conversation, something about a woman who lives several hours away. This woman is worried about her. Apparently, she is an ex of the man at the table, and she is worried that this woman might not stay ex.

Then: an ultimatum. I think it was that the man no longer be friends with the out-of-town woman. Or maybe it was that the couple at the table take a break so that the woman could be assured that the man had gotten the out-of-town woman out of his system. They are starting to be rather loud now, and their discussion is punctuated by the trading of childish insults ("how original - you said that months ago"; "well, be original and stop making me say unoriginal things"). I look up - the others in the shop are casting annoyed and somewhat disbelieving glares in their general direction.

I debate whether or not to assert my right to sit, auditorily unmolested, at the table and grade my papers by glaring directly at them, maybe even saying, "hey, you're being pretty loud; I'm sure you don't want us all to know all of the intimacies of your relationship." But instead I get up with a heavy sigh and an exaggerated huffiness and grump off to the front of the place to chat with friends.

Why is it that people feel comfortable having what should be private discussions in public? This was really a rather intimate discussion, in which other relationships were brought up and held under the light, in which both people were asked to speculate as to whether or not they'd be in relationships with certain others if the significant other were not around. It was not the kind of conversation I'd want to have in public, not because I would feel awkward about sharing such information, but because I wouldn't want other people to hear what I sound like fighting with my partner. I would want to avoid letting them see the pettiness and meanness that I am capable of. I sound like I'm being judgmental, but I'm not - I mean this literally: I know what people are capable of, and I know what I am capable of, and I don't want the public to see me at my worst. Why, then, would this couple be ready to drag their worst selves into public?

Over coffee, for god's sake.

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