She Might Be Right

Friday, May 29, 2009

Still Waiting

It was as Americana as Norman Rockwell. It could have inspired the writing on the Statue of Liberty.

"Give us your tired, your hungry and your poor ..."

Well, that's me smack dab in the middle. To my left, getting as horizontal as any shopping mall bench will allow, was Tired -- a middle-aged man who would have logged fewer miles at a marathon than shopping with his girlfriend.

On my right was Poor -- a 30-something gentleman with a half-dozen bags at his feet from two-dozen stores. He had just enough left in him to pass the torch -- the credit card -- to his wife.

And I was Hungry. About as hungry as I had ever been for food, sunshine, a gentle breeze and a remote control in my hand.

We three not-so-wise men were waiting for someone. Fill in the blank as you wish -- wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, daughter, female acquaintance or just the first woman passing by who said that she was ready to leave. We were three of dozens (perhaps hundreds but I was too tired to get up and count) of men who were stationed on benches throughout the mall on this sunny afternoon.

Each of us could tell you the time. To the tenth of a second.

This was the bottomless wait. It was a game whose timekeeper was Rod Serling.

I had made the mistake only two hours earlier of saying, "Let's split up and meet in front of Sears. We'll get more done."

I had looked down for only a moment to do what any man would do -- synchronize our watches.

I did not hear the starter's pistol fire. She did.

She was out of the blocks with a burst that Usain Bolt has tried to emulate, but can't. Apparently, two hours was considered by her to be a shopping sprint. I was under the impression that it was a marathon.

Whatever led me to suggest going separate directions had left my mind after I had completed my shopping. All 15 minutes of it. I now had 105 minutes to browse.

She, I'm sure, had spent her first 15 minutes rejoicing in the fact that she was rid of her shopping anchor -- me. We had never been shopping-compatible and I am unable to explain to you why. I've had time to come up with reasons -- hours of sitting on that mall bench -- but I cannot.

Let's just say we use different shopping strategies.

I look for something specific. She does not. For variety, I'll buy the same shirt in two different colors. She would never. If I see something that I think is worth buying, I'll buy it right then, not after putting it down to look through 10 other stores only to come back to the first store.

I've discussed all of this with Tired and Poor. They feel likewise. We've also found that we share common opinions about the American League pennant race and the fact that Marianne, not Ginger, was the prettiest of the castaways on Gilligan's Island.

After that discussion, we kept ourselves busy by forming a huddled mass. We were poster children for Ellis Island.

I never did learn the real names of Tired and Poor, nor the names of the scores of men I watched from my box seat as they wandered aimlessly about the mall.

We did, however, share a feeling if only for the afternoon. We were fodder for Rockwell's creativity.

We were still-life. So were our watches.


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