Thursday, October 13, 2005
So, last night I went to a nice small French restaurant for dinner. I only had eyes for my dinner date, but when he stepped away, headed for the bathroom, I got a good look at the couple sitting near the window behind him. Now, for me, couples in conflict are like dinner theatre. I think some people have a flare for performance even if they are bankers or insurance reps for 40 hours a week. But, why do people break up in public, why do they fight in public? Why do couples insist on discussing their personal problems over pate and baguettes while the waiter pretends not to notice the crying woman as he slips by with extra napkins?
Couples are the best kind of dinner theatre because I get to tell the stories. I get to focus on their gestures and faces and decide what’s going on at the window table across the room. I can stare and they don’t notice because they are enraptured in their own story. They don’t know that I’m crafting my own. As long as the pair aren’t sobbing loudly or slamming their fists onto the table in anger you can project whatever you want on them. They can play out the drama in your own life. Or, they can be your flesh and blood equivalent of Luke and Laura or any soap relationship from Days of our Lives to Coronation Street
My dinner date got back and noticed me watching the couple. He noticed her blotting her tears taking care not to ruin her mascara. He noticed her companion’s inability to look her in the eye.
So, we told stories about them. He’s moving to work in New York City, she knows he is seeing someone else. He feels that she doesn’t listen, she is always thinking of another man. She can’t express how she feels, he always interrupts her before she makes her point. Last week she kissed his best friend, he’s ashamed of the relationship and doesn’t want to introduce her to his family. We told a thousand stories like that.
Then the woman laughed out loud. It was false, clearly nothing was resolved. She laughed, I think because she didn’t want to continue the fight. She laughed as she wiped tears away and her companion looked relieved. He cracked another joke and she laughed again, this time louder. But, she was nervous. It was obvious. She just wanted to stop no one wants to remember the argument over dinner. Then she excused herself and spent a good long time in the bathroom. Sometimes you need a break.
She came back to him standing, having just paid the bill. They left and he guided her out of the restaurant with his right hand on the small of her back.