Subtitled: The World According to Karen

On the CalTrain this morning coming in to work (commuting always the best place for random observations of human behavior):

A very mild mannered looking Asian man in tweed coat with elbow patches was seen white-knuckled-clutching a thick stack of bright red paper slips. I wondered what they were.

As I passed the racks holding maps and schedules, I saw the red slips. “Customer Complaints” they said at the top and featured several inky black lines down the page.

I wondered. What did that quiet well-dressed man have to complain about? In quantity.

I envisioned him at home angrily scratching out all his perceived failures of the CalTrain system, feeling better as each slip is completed, shaky hand taking a drink of a whiskey neat as he does so.

At the Semi-Well-Known sorta Italian chain restaurant on Sunday:

A schlumpy dressed man escorts a *gorgeous* leggy woman dressed to the nines through the front door. His eyes dart around the room. When the hostess asks how he may be helped, he says, “It’s busy here…we’re going next door, they have a bar!” To her credit, the hostess just smiles and says, “Have one for me…”

As The Good Man and I had our dinner, we observe the place next door is having a special night and is *packed*. More so than the place we’re at. So schlumpy man and hot chick (clearly dressed for a date) wouldn’t have stayed there either.

I envision them darting from place to place, schlumpy man never satisfied with the situation. This one too bright. That one too loud. That one over there has a funny smell. An evening long quest.

Woman’s feet are now tired in her four-inch platforms. She thought she’d be sitting more, sipping a nice Cabernet. Schlumpy man finally settles on International House of Pancakes and calls it a night. Beautiful and usually well-kept woman calls it an early night.

I envision that Schlumpy man’s phone doesn’t ring, no email in the inbox. And he wonders why.

At the local chain drug store:

A large man of what appears to be the Italian persuasion walks through the store, talking to himself. At first I think he’s on a mobile phone. He is not.

He’s got all the stereotypical accoutrements of a Guido from Joisey. He’s wearing dark sweatpants with rounded boiler belly pushing at a stained button down shirt worn under a nice looking navy blue blazer. With gold buttons. I can’t tell, but I think little anchors are imprinted into those buttons.

Hair is slicked well back. Tarnished gold-rimmed dark-lensed sunglasses in place over his eyes. It is early evening.

He toddles off to collect his requirements. I forget about him.

We find him again on line behind us. I have to return an item. When I got in line, there was no one else. Now there is a long line. Clerk is confuzzled about the return process. So everyone waits. On me.

Guido has set down his purchases on the rolling belt. It consists solely of a large bag of potato chips and two fo’ties (fourty ouncers of Coors. I’d have placed him as a Miller or Bud man. Maybe Coors was on sale.)

I’m currently reading a novel about a guy who is a hit man for a “made man”. This colors my outlook. I’m thinking, “I’m gonna get popped for making this guy wait.” My eyes go shifty.

Guido cracks a joke. About the cake mix on my pile of purchases waiting on the cashier. He says, “That takes too much work, you can just buy that already made!” and laughs a too-loud belly guffaw. I laugh nervously. My Brooklyn-born fiancée kibitzes with Guido. They laugh together. Guido isn’t mad, just impatient.

I discover Guido is probably just another lonely guy in suburban California. Happy to have had a few moments interaction with some other people.

I envision him driving off in a battered black Lincoln or Caddy, body in the trunk thumping as he whips around the corner on his way home to watch Sopranos reruns.

I remind myself not to take the fiction I read so literally.

At the well-known trendy natural and organic foods market:

The muzac is playing over the PA system. On this day they’ve chosen 80’s hits. Clearly appealing to the Gen X crowd that makes up much of their clientele.

Loverboy is in the air. “Only the Lucky Ones”

Soon to be middle-aged Girl remembers how her sister used to LOVE that band. She had the album on vinyl. The cover replete with the buttocks of Mike Reno clad in red leather pants with crossed fingers. Album titled “Get Lucky“.

Girl used to borrow her sister’s album and play it over and over and over. All those burgeoning teenage giggly thoughts about gazing at Mike Reno’s arse come bubbling up in her soon to be middle-aged mind. She remembers.

And she begins to sing along. In public.

She finds her mate. And decides to entertain him by doing a full air guitar solo while singing along.

And people walk by…unnoticing. Intent on finding their steel cut oats or their Kombuchi drinks.

I envision the Girl and her mate having a long happy life together.

Mainly because The Good Man is tolerant of my antics.

I love making character studies from the world.

You can’t make this sh*t up.

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