Fetching your coffee in Williamsburg at 7am on a Sunday morning means you witness a lot of walks of shame. This morning I got caught behind a couple blocking the sidewalk as they ambled to the subway. He was trying, subtly subtly, to hurry them along but she was so lit up in a reverie of Sunday-morning-new-love-this-is-how-it’s-supposed-to-be that she didn’t pick up his cues. When they got to the stop she reached up expectantly, head tilted back and lips slightly parted for a big Hollywood goodbye kiss, but he merely pecked her cheek and patted her back while conspicuously removing his pelvis from the picture. Just like that her face fell, shoulders crumpling as she descended the stairs to the subway, and I shuddered, thinking of the awful self-loathing to which she was also about to descend. I could see the whole thing just from that moment: They’d met online, gone on two dates he’d considered more mediocre than she had, and they’d slept together the night before because of his idle desire to get laid and her powerful need for connection. The guy and I stood together at the corner, waiting for the traffic light to change, and I could feel the relief radiating from him like UV rays. Involuntarily I snorted. It was more of an audible exhale, really, but I confess I’d forgotten anyone could hear or see me since I consider myself invisible when I’m in Harriet the Spy mode. (It’s amazing how often I meet people who’ve never noticed me though I’ve watched them many times.) Suddenly he looked straight at me with the most searing mix of defensiveness and fury, and I–overcompensator that I sometimes can be–smiled evilly right back. The light changed, he rushed away, and I apologetically sent them both a silent burst of peony compassion. O, Sunday morning. Jesus, indeed.
This morning: rainy, cold, drear. Sitting in the coffee shop window, I was feeling smug that I didn’t have to hustle to work like all the Rick Springfield mofos hastening by. One of the coffee jerks — twentysomething, hugely pregnant, more blowsy than blooming — waddled outside, followed by a small young man with bright, dark eyes. They stood, kissing gingerly for a surprisingly long time as everyone streamed around them. I couldn’t stop gawking. So little apparent passion, and yet the kiss dragged on forever, tongues flashing and everything. Eventually, they disentangled and I went back to my crossword. An hour later, on the subway platform not a half-block from the coffee shop, I saw the small man again. With a far greater urgency, he was kissing someone else — a slight, pretty blond girl. The kind of girl who’d be your basic nightmare if you had eight months of baby sacked in your gut.