Don’t deny you do it — we all do. I was doing it one Sunday at the Waterside Marina del Rey shopping center, drinking coffee, pretending to write important notes. As if to move out of the sun, I turned my chair toward two teens.
“Eric, like, said ‘Hi’ to me today,” one says, licking at a spoon of yogurt, ears lined with gold and silver rings. “Like, he’s so cute. He’s got those, like, bright blue eyes. I can’t imagine, like, looking into them, like, up close, you know? Do you think, like, he’s gonna, like, ask me out?”
An old man with a white frazzled beard sits under an umbrella, a tattered pack fills his market basket. On the table is a whole cake in a plastic container, and a pint of H”agen-Dazs. Taking a bite, he leans his head back, eyes closed in deep pleasure. As he chews, chin and nose seem to meet, making me think he’s toothless. Homeless? Well, he just took out a cell phone.
With an unbuttoned yellow shirt, and thick gold chain, a muscular man ambles arrogantly, feet splayed, checking out the scene. It’s apparent he wants to be checked out too.
Husband and wife eating big, fat sandwiches. Wife has to open her mouth wide to take a bite, and each time, a glob of cream cheese clings to her lip. Husband doesn’t tell her. Well, neither does she tell him he has ketchup on his.
Walking along, I pass the “local men’s club,” hanging out at their regular table near the fountain. One has bushy hair with a drooping mustache, another, sun-dried and wrinkled, puffs on a cigar yelling, “You’re nuts! Buying an SUV?” There’s a Hawaiian shirt guy, a large sunglasses guy, and a guy with cornrows and a gold earring. They’re having a bawdy old time, erupting with laughter every few minutes. I wonder what binds such a diverse group together — work? baseball? AA?
“Da, ya, ma, ma,” babbles a baby, her chubby feet kicking up bubbles in the fountain. Mom leans over speaking in singsong French, “C’est trËs amusant, Silvie, n’est-ce pas?” Dad and two little boys push a red sailboat back and forth, giggling and splashing.
Standing near the elegant outdoor restaurant, a man and I lock eyes of disbelief while staring at a young couple. Before them sit heaping plates of salad, goblets of white wine and a basket of rolls. They’re having a lively conversation, laughing, gesticulating, enjoying the lovely day in a romantic setting surrounded by yellow and red roses. They’re both on cell phones.
I watch you, you watch me, we’re all so fascinating.