What’s Next?

Posted on Tuesday 12 June 2007

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.

Oh. Well.

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?

13 Comments for 'What’s Next?'

    June 12, 2007 | 10:47 pm

    Ah, yes. Another lesson in “Never Judge, Never Judge.” Still, speculation is a lot of fun, isn’t it? I suppose this is the sort of thing that gives novelists ideas. . .

    June 13, 2007 | 3:55 am

    I Loved this one…Neat

    longtime reader
    June 13, 2007 | 9:46 am

    Beautifully told, RG. Thanks.

    June 13, 2007 | 9:48 am

    I love seeing people and making up stories about them. I’m sure I’m nowhere near accurate, but it’s fun.

    I’ve been in Sandy’s shoes — it’s so stressful. My husband and I met in a similar way, so it brought back happy memories.

    June 13, 2007 | 11:49 am

    Hello there. Just passed by and find out that your blogs are interesting. You’re good in writing stories…
    Keep blogging. I’ll come back for more…

    June 13, 2007 | 1:32 pm

    Yes, I too look at people and make up stories about them. I wonder how often I am correct, and when a chance comes by to find out I am almost always wrong.

    June 13, 2007 | 2:26 pm

    At times of extreme emotion, like when my daughter had to have open heart surgery at 5 months old, or when my mother died of cancer, I’ve found myself looking at other people and thinking how much tragedy is out there in people’s lives that we know nothing about by looking at them.

    June 13, 2007 | 3:05 pm

    How…uhm..interesting. I liked the post but the situation sounds just like one of those odd days when you see a bunch of things and do a second look and think to yourself, “Huh??” Anyways, nice post. ^_^

    June 13, 2007 | 3:33 pm

    Great post. I really enjoy it when the post takes you outside of the restaurant.

    June 13, 2007 | 10:56 pm

    very interesting post . its fun to read what u think of others who pass by our lives only briefly . thanks for an interesting story

    June 14, 2007 | 1:42 pm

    Really great story. (again)

    I love o. henry style twists! Great job.

    June 14, 2007 | 4:52 pm

    indeed, what’s next???

    I just love how you see things ,RG!

    and as always.. can’t wait to see what’s next here =)

    June 20, 2007 | 2:57 pm

    Again and again I find that situations in live are far more complex than they appear to bystanders.
    Perhaps I’m prone to “funny” situations. But very often, when I consider what this or that must look like to others, I know that they would never guess…

    And that’s what keeps me curious and cautious and open-minded – I hope.

    Thanks for those remarkable moments, RG.

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