My friend Tara is back and visiting, having moved to Belgium roughly a year ago.
We are waiting for starters at Bar La Grassa. She lifts a glass to her lips, speaks around the rim. “If I have to go to Bruges or Delirium again –” She takes a sip, doesn’t finish the sentence.
Apparently that is what one does when visiting Tara in Belgium: travel to Bruges/drink one’s self dizzy at the Delirium Tremens brewery.
It is inevitable that she will make both trips again.
The move to another country has been hard on her, not because of her shaky yet better-than-the-average-American’s grasp of Dutch but because her job is in her home.
And our little Tara is an extrovert.
“You don’t brush your hair some days, am I right?”
She looks at me with that intensely focused look she’s capable of but says nothing.
“You remember to brush your teeth?”
She sighs. “Why bother? I’m in conference calls around the clock…”
“How about pants? Do you remember to put on your pants?”
She waves me off with one dismissive hand, smiling. “What’s the point? I’m not going to see anyone.”
“Can’t you go to a coffee shop or something? Find some free Wi-Fi?”
She laughs bitterly, shakes her head. “They don’t do that. Not to mention the fact that there’s no free Wi-Fi anywhere but the McDonald’s, and you know how I feel about that.”
I do indeed. Tara believes in conversation, food, and wine, quite possibly in that order.
I am thinking of Tara this afternoon as I walk through the skyways of Minneapolis in search of lunch. There, sitting at a table outside one of many dining establishments, is a woman logging on to her laptop, a phone in her ear, all the while balancing a briefcase on her lap, a puddle of business-ly accoutrements at her feet.
She’s yelling into her phone as I walk by. “So tell me what’s going on with you! I hear you’re in some trouble! Oh, and I’m sitting in a public space, so if you hear anything weird, it’s just background noise. Ignore it.”
I pause for just a moment, fight the urge to lean in and babble something “weird” like “The Vikings stand a good chance this year!” or “Sure it itches, but that’s what the salve is for!”
To her, I – and the others streaming by – are background noise; and to me, she is someone getting set to hear more, from the sounds of the opening gambit, than she perhaps should in a public setting.
Or perhaps she’s had all she can handle of sitting at home in her underwear, the dishes soaking as she makes another call.
I cannot judge this. Unless, of course, she makes another “background noise” statement.
Wait. No, not even then.
The caveman* in my head – the one who advises that I mind my own business – rears up, shakes his massive, shaggy head, and lumbers toward the cave’s opening and into the light.
• See yesterday’s post. Whenever surrounded by large groups of people I wonder about the caveman’s ability to be diplomatic.