I’ve been seeing a sweet man for the past few months. Someone I knew peripherally, and ran into just as I was finishing up radiation. It was the most unexpected and lovely thing at a time I really needed it. Ultimately though, it didn’t work out. Something sweet and simple, turned fraught and difficult and complicated and as I was pretty sure we were both feeling the same way, I asked him to coffee this morning to tell him that I thought we were better as friends, it’s disrespectful, I think, to leave things just dangling until they fade away, and it devalues what you had even if it didn’t work out, but I admit, I was a little nervous. Well, you never saw a more genuine smile or happy man than this one, upon hearing what I had to say. For a minute I thought, well, sheesh, look a little disappointed, but of course, then I would have felt terrible and I never want anyone to fake it. How perfect that we were both feeling the same thing at the same time and able to talk about it honestly, and I know, that I have a new, close, friend for life, someone I genuinely care about, who’s company I truly enjoy and who I think feels the same of me. It would have been grand to have something more, but we all know things don’t always click or work out the way we would like.
We met today at my local café, the one I patronize often, but rarely sit at, so I figure I’ve accrued table points. We sat talking for a long time, friend talk, happy talk. Despite being done with my tea, we were firmly entrenched in our spot, I had an an empty chair covered in my briefcase, bag, bread, coat, and we were deep in conversation. I shouldn’t have been twirling my empty cup around, that was a dead giveaway that I was done with it, because a little old lady approached. One bad ass, little old lady, who wanted a table, and wanted it now. That woman kicked our ass, and you better believe, she’s still probably sitting in our spot. She looked like the quintessential sweet old lady, oh how looks can be deceiving, cunning and steely will, sadly, are invisible. White hair, hunched shoulders, heavy coat and handbag dangling from crooked elbow. She was balancing a plate with a muffin in one hand, and a cup of coffee filled to the literal brim in the other, just begging to spill and she says “excuse me, are you finished, were you about to leave?” I said, “well, um, uh, we weren’t really.” The table-coveting warrior, just stood there, staring, tenuous coffee, more tenuous by the second, “well, yes, actually, we were just about to leave.” We didn't look anywhere near about to leave.
Damn, that was one fine play. I thought, well, if I were sitting on a bus, I would have automatically gotten up and given my seat without a second thought, so I’m wondering does this age hierarchy work in all situations? When are you old enough to just demand what you want and how much younger does someone else have to be for you to expect them to give way. If she was 70 and I’m 50, does that mean that next time I’m at the café and there’s no seat for me, I can encroach on and shame a 30-year old into giving it up? I will point out that she was alone and there was room at the communal table. Why did she pick our table... there were other malingerer’s, chatters, did I blow it by twirling my empty cup around? Am I a terrible person for how begrudgingly I gave it up? I guess once you get a table, it’s not a given you’re going to keep it. Take nothing for granted, not even your temporary table, things may be more temporary than you think.