I would like to start with a complete honesty that I don’t normally share with people: I watch people all the time. I write down what people say because I consider myself a conversationalist and much like Darwin I take copious notes for what I call “research.” Yes air quotes could have been used there; sadly air quotes are frowned upon in the written lexicon of the English language. Maybe in the future air quotes can be submitted to Webster. I sometimes wonder if Webster is that kid from the show in the 1980’s. Apparently I am easily distracted.  Back to the point, yes, air quotes, and now we are moving past air quotes and on to honesty. Not that I wasn’t sharing my exact feelings of the subject, finally, yes moving on. Okay. I write all day every day. Why? Because I consider myself a writer, and why would I an overweight, out of shape linguist (only one language) consider myself as such? Well for one I can see through your judgment and am appalled and two because I have written and published a novel before. The novel is called Playing Soldier, I will wait for you to google it…..shocking isn’t it? I write every single day about conversations that I hear or characters that I see on the street, in the movies, on the television, in my house, with the neighbors, there are characters everywhere and I love them all. I learn from them every single day. So for this project I did exactly what I have always done I sat on a bench and watched the movie of life play out in front of me. It is written in first person mostly because I am extremely narcissistic.

I am not a big on new devices. I mean I see phones on television sometimes and think to myself that I should purchase the phone, but then I realize that if I owned said phone I would always want the next phone, the phone companies completely hose the consumer when they offer phones at a discounted price only to make you sign a contract that is completely one sided; much like marriage. Moving on. I enjoy a posh chair. You know a chair that is comfortable yet supports your areas in need of support. Like that lower back or the buttocks. I tend to bruise my buttocks often, not that I am involved in some sport that includes a slap happy group of guys who find in entertaining to slap your buttocks in appreciation of a job well down. I should submit a grievance to the union. I am relatively certain that slow pitch softball doesn’t have a union.  Maybe I should do some independent research on my league.

Some guy just sat across from me. He smells like a mixture of alcohol and champagne. I conclude that he must have walked through the Macy’s counter. He looks like he is married, seemingly beaten and vulnerable. He rotates his wedding ring as though he were rotating tires on a large truck. His hands are large with hair growing out of his individual fingers, not the tips but the middle of his finger. I notice things like that. His name could be Roger or Hank or Billy. His name should be Billy.  Billy is thirty-three and has two kids. His kids are nine and seven, they have matching haircuts even-though one of them is a girl and one a questionable looking boy. Not that that the question would be of his gender but mostly of his haircut and stature, being that he hasn’t hit puberty yet.  Billy’s wife drives him crazy with her obsession with telling him what to wear and how to dress.  Billy shifts in his chair and drinks in his surroundings.

“Hello” Billy says aloud. I look around but there is no one around me. I can only assume that Billy is speaking to me.  I nervously shift my weight from my buttocks to my left and then right leg. Billy stares at me as though I been previously judging him and making up a completely illogical background on him. I stutter but push out of my diaphragm a strangely weak “Hello” back to him. I immediately turn red. He has somehow turned this around on me, as if we were cage fighters and I was completely unprepared for a sweet counter he pulled on me.  All I can do is sit in shock and awe of this awesome turn of events. I attempt to bury my large item questions I want to ask Billy, Starting with if Billy was his name. He looks to his left toward the store that his aggressive wife pollinated while he hoped that she did not drain his whole account. I attempt a crack a humor but it doesn’t go over very well, when I attempt to relate to him by complaining about a spouse that I don’t have.  “My lady spends all my money too” I see the words flying out of my mouth to quickly to return them to me. He considers my comment and responds with “You know, I used to think like that but now I just enjoy being with her.” My assumption that Billy has children evaporates as the twins drain back into my imagination. A moment passes as Billy waits for me to say something to him. I process through the millions of questions I have for him and chose the following. “So, umh, how long have you and the old lady been together?” Billy responds quickly with “Oh, no I am here with my Mother.” I shift my position in the now completely uncomfortable chair.

Billy’s watch looks new, I stare at it for a moment too long as Billy notices and begins a watch conversation that I wiggle out of by name dropping “Citizen” and “Timex” I know very little about the companies and find it a bit off putting that I have to work in my pretend interest in watches. Abruptly Billy stands up and walks away. I immediately miss Billy as he represented my most prized possession. Immediately after Billy walks away I am inundated with three women in their fifties who sit next to each other on a bench directly across from me.  I engage in what I can only describe as “Ear hustling”, whereas I listen in to their conversation without them noticing me. It is an art form rarely seen on this side of the tracks. I like to imagine myself looking out over the horizon at a large group of hump back whales singing to each other in the distance. Not that these women were the size of humpback whales. Maybe the one in the red. I shall name her Agnes…………….

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