I have to take a break. Statistics is getting easier to understand (thank you, YouTube) but my ears hurt, and it’s good for the brain to focus on something else for a little while.
So, I’m gonna focus on the two women sitting at the table next to mine here at Starbucks. Because my internet connection is stupid at home. I didn’t want to come to Starbucks, but there it is. Don’t ever get Dish. They suck. I don’t care what their commercials say. On the graph of liars, marketers are right there underneath lawyers.
Women are funny creatures. We really, really are. Some of us thrive on drama. Others can do without. And still others pretend not to like it, but gravitate towards it for secret reasons of our own. Maybe our lives are boring. Maybe for that minute in time we can be part of someone’s undivided attention, under the guise of caring and wanting to help. Am I generalising, yes. Oh yes, I am. But it’s so delicious to sit and listen to these women, while I’m pretending to listen to my music and play Words with Friends. And not do my Statistics for a minute.
One of the women has to be in her early forties. Maybe late, I’m not sure. But, she’s sitting with a girl who is around my age. Maybe younger. The younger girl is doing much of the talking while the older woman sits with her chin in her hand, giving the young girl all of her attention, a half smile on her lips. I don’t know what’s going on behind her eyes, but her body language and posture tells me she’s soaking up everything the younger girl is saying.
Much of it has to do with a boy, who I am assuming is the younger girls’ boyfriend. Maybe fiance. Oklahoma is like Utah in that respect. Their voices dip and rise with what they’re talking about. I think when they get the inkling that I’m listening (and it is hard to keep a straight face while I’m typing) their voices dip. Or when they’re talking about something another person-a girl they both know-their voices dip as if they’re sharing a conspiracy. The behind the hand “Oh my God, I know!” stereotype of high school. When their voices raise, it’s to laugh about something shared and to agree with each other that someone is doing something so stupid, that she/he should have known better, almost in consolation on the older woman’s part. As if she understands what the girl is going through (because she has been there before) and can sympathise, but she isn’t going to go home and make fun of her coffee-break companion behind her back, in the safety of her own kitchen, possibly recanting what was said to her husband or even to another girlfriend. A shared laugh at someone else’s expense, perpetrating the same cycle started in the Starbucks.
I’m not immune. I have not taken the high road. I am female. I talk. I bitch. I whine and complain about people I know and people I don’t know. Especially when they’ve done something stupid, as if by talking about it I can somehow assert my superiority. And, I suppose in a psychological way, I am. By talking again and again about this person or that person, I promise myself I am not going to do the same thing they did. Except, inevitably, I’m gonna. And I’m gonna be talked about. Lord knows I’ve done enough stupid shit in my 26 years to be talked about. Maybe over coffee in a Starbucks, while some smartass types about me in their blog.
What fascinates me is the older woman. What is her motivation to give all of her attention to the younger girl and her, ultimately trivial problems. Does she care about the girl? They obviously know each other, but how well? Are they family? Maybe aunt and niece. Or perhaps godmother and child.
They’ve dipped their voices again, letting the cookie-cutter ambience take over. The clang of drinks, the laughter of baristas trying to keep their energy up while their shift drags on through the gunmetal grey skies. It’s comforting in its familiarity and overuse, and offers the women enough of a cover to make sure they’re not heard, just in case I might know someone they’re talking about.
I don’t. But they don’t know that. Caution is a funny thing.
As the girl tells the older woman how she only gets an hour of sleep before she wakes up to do homework and other high school/college troubles, the woman nods her head, switches her position and commiserates with the girl, telling her she should sleep more. She really should, it’s showing on her face, under her eyes, and she just seems oh so tired. The girl nods, and I can hear the ‘pity me’ undertone to her words. I’ve used it before, when I’m trying to get sympathy for my own hellish college lifestyle. Not being able to write every day is really putting an edge on my mood lately.
Not that I can talk. I have a friend who has it worse than I do. I don’t know how she does it, honestly.
The older woman loves the younger girl’s tweet about something. I don’t know what it is. But the words make me laugh. How times have changed. Suddenly tweets are noteworthy. The snark in me wants to think the older woman is simply listening to the younger girl because there is a hole in her life. To throw herself so completely into a younger generation, speaking words that she knows will resonate with the younger girl, make her open up more fully. Perhaps the woman is a vampire of sorts. Middle aged as she is, she might not have a husband any more. Without a man in her life, maybe she goes in search of the things that will make her ‘cool’ to her younger friends and chases them. She looks as though she has read the Twilight books and can talk about them with every measure of seriousness and love that the young fans do, preferring Edward, I think. Perhaps the 50 Shades books are tucked into a nightstand drawer. Only to be pulled out when the doors are locked and only one light is burning in her bedroom. When she’s safe and no one will disturb-or judge-her.
And the young girl. She is like all the others in my age range. Just figuring out that drama isn’t worth it. Maybe she just needs someone to vent to, like adults do these days. Or, maybe she’s like so many others with a small contingent of friends she’s known for umpteen years. Whatever they do, whatever slight (real or imagined) it must be talked about. It is a calamity that can change everything in her young life. Because, oh my god so and so really just did that thing with that guy who was going to be my ex anyway, so I really don’t care but I sort of still do because what a bitch. I have to decide if she is going to be my friend anymore. I think she’s going to be, but he definitely is going to be my ex.
It’s fun to watch out of the corner of my eye as these women talk. The older woman takes a slightly offended tone as their conversation shifts to a woman I don’t think either of them know well, maybe the younger girl does, but the older woman’s impression was not good. The younger girl is hanging on to what the woman says with the feigned disinterest all teenagers adopt at some point in their lives. Their exchange is one of attention, a careful dance of the teenager’s problems and the older woman’s sympathy where one should never overshadow the other and it is the woman’s job to bolster the girl’s ego while keeping her own in check even as she talks about her own experiences. They do agree, however, that the teenager should ditch a girl she’s gotten into a tiff with. Because she was sleeping around, and that is something that’s just not done in their little circle. But neither of them are judging, you know?
Women are funny creatures, and maybe I should come to Starbucks more often. I’m not a fan of the cookie cutter or the terrible coffee, but the baristas make a pretty good cup of chai, and you never know who is gonna sit down next to you and what they’re going to bring to the table.