Just because I’m not making eye contact doesn’t mean I don’t see you.
I see you.
I’ve been seeing you since I walked in, and my heart gave an involuntary lurch when I realized we were seated near you.
You and all your ball cap, spray tan, white sneaker friends. I’m not old enough to be any of your mothers, barring a freak-of-nature situation. But I could have been your babysitter. Your older sister’s friend. Your camp counsellor.
One of you is wearing Ed Hardy, so I’m going to assume he’s the Captain of this Douche Platoon. I think there’s five of you, I don’t want to look at you long enough to count. Don’t want to encourage you; don’t want you to think I care. Because I don’t. And because if I don’t care, you can’t reject. Plus, I don’t care.
My table fills up. You notice. You want us to notice you. The laughs get louder, deeper, shifting from funny to dirty joke funny. Elbows in your friends ribs, and what you can get girls to do with you funny. The kind of laughs that start with silence then explode, and make me nervous, made me nervous before I knew what they meant. Pack of hyena laughs. Laughs of beasts who anticipate tearing apart fresh meat.
I give my head an internal, imperceptible shake. I am thirty fucking four. I have ten years on the oldest of you. I have seen enough, been through enough, lost enough, found enough, cried enough and risen above enough that you and your oozing testosterone should mean sweet bugger all to me.
There is a piece. A small, insecure, half a lifetime ago piece of me, who wants to know. How I measure up. If I measure up. How far short I fall. Could the blue eyes, the smile, the laughter that shows I’m funny and carefree, and that I am surrounded by people who find me that way, could these things make you consider me? If I sit up straight enough, will you notice the lumpy stomach (the result of 2 huge babies and a 90 pound weight loss, but you won’t care about that)? What about the bags under my eyes, my I-give-up ponytail? The uber-sensible, opposite of sexy shoes?
And an even smaller piece is scared you won’t notice any of it, won’t notice me at all. That I missed my time to get noticed.
Then I hear the quiet, and realize you’ve gone. I pay real and good attention to my group, not the one ear, one eye stuff I’ve been giving them all evening. I relax.
I kind of hate you. It’s nothing personal. Really, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s the effect your presence, your existence, the idea of you has on me. It’s the feeling that time is sliding away, doors are closing. It’s the fact that sometimes, I’m failing to transcend.