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Love Affairs

June 14, 2010

So, as I recently twittered, I had a highly entertaining people watching session this afternoon while at a café. I was on a lunch break between meetings and so thought I’d sit at one of those cafés in front of the Sorbonne (rather touristy, but fantastic for people watching). While I know that most people are highly against mobile phone use in public places (buses, airport terminals, standing in queues for theatre tickets) I have a very different view of the matter: I love the opportunity to get a one-sided glimpse into someone’s life. You see, a phone conversation allows for far more imaginative involvement than a face-to-face conversation. For example, if I were to hear two people talking about their plans to pick up something for Uncle Fred, I’d perhaps more easily understand that they were referring to a pound of steak. If on the other hand I were to hear only one side of the conversation, my imagination would allow me to fill in the missing details and I might arrive at the conclusion that some sort of illegal activity was about to take place. As you see, far more interesting.

Well anyway, while sipping my hot cocoa at the café, I tuned into the phone conversation being had by a rather middle-aged man sitting just back and to the left of me. His conversation was confusing, until I realised that he had to be talking to a lover about the difficulties he was running into with his wife! By the time I puzzled this out, I was thanking myself for being fluent in French, and working hard to commit the gist of the conversation to my memory. The man was essentially saying that his wife was getting much clingier, and that he was going to be having great difficulty in continuing to arrange time away from home for their little trysts. I had to wonder whether he was being honest, or if the infatuation had worn off and he was simply trying to get rid of the girl. I was also quite amazed that he would be talking like this in such a public place! But then again, the French are much less inhibited in the ways of love, aren’t they…

The chap continued for some time, both placating her (though then again, it could well have been a him as he used no name) and distancing himself. There were some particularly sick-making portions of the conversation that would have turned anyone’s stomach, but left me eager for more. I wish I had had a little recording device with me to capture the conversation for later transcription, but I realise that that might be a bit indiscreet, and perhaps not exactly an activity smiled upon by the eyes of the law. Oh well, paraphrasing is more blogable (is that a real word? it must be) anyway.

So, after I’d say about 10 or 15 minutes, (I was on my second hot cocoa by this time — really lovely stuff it was too!) when I was admittedly getting a titch bored, I heard the man mutter a quick goodbye and hang up. I looked around on the pretext that I’d been watching someone walk by, and saw that a woman had arrived at the table. She was quite pretty, though of the same middle-aged appearance as the man, and was dressed rather strikingly in a flowered dress of the sort I might expect to see on Grace Kelly. I rather rapidly arrived at the conclusion that this woman had to be that chap’s wife, and now I would get a better picture of the relationships going on.

The man greeted his wife and asked her if she would like anything, to which she replied that she would like some hot chocolate (I quickly decided to like the lady). They sat in silence for a while, and when the hot cocoa arrived, she sipped it. Finally he remarked on the fineness of the day (debatable as there was a chill, and a definitely drizzle in the air). From discussion of the weather (more of a monologue I suppose than a discussion), he suddenly turned the conversation to how lovely she (his wife) was, and how much he loved her. She asked him where this sudden outpouring of emotion had come from, and he (in the typical manner) asked why he should have to have a reason other than the fact that she was the most wonderful creature in existence and that he was the luckiest man ever to live, to be married to her.

Unfortunately at this point I discovered that I was going to be late for my next round of meetings and had to dash off. I will never know if the man was being sincere or not. What a pity. But it does leave room for the imagination to fill in the rest of the story, now doesn’t it, and as I’ve said, I do so love to have room for my imagination to work.

Until later then!

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  1. Groggy last day in Paris « People Watching Inc.

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