Two Murky Scenes


At first, it’s a sad portrait. The man sits in middle of the crowded coffee shop, alone at his table amid the bustle and conversation. Norah Jones sings in the background. He is in his late fifties, with a poorly trimmed mustache and bags under his eyes. He has a yellow legal pad and a couple books near at hand, but he is not looking at them. The piece of cardboard folded in front him has the words “Screenwriters Group” written on it in thick black marker. Everyone ignores him.

But, a ray of hope: he is finally joined by three others, two of whom look very much like him. Who knows if they will ever write screenplays, or if they will ever go anywhere, but their conversation is animated; they all love being there. That’s enough, sometimes.


An early-twenties couple are making their way out the front door; I’m sitting at the nearest table to it. The guy is walking in front, talking on the cell phone and holding his coffee in his other hand. As he approaches the door he realizes that opening it will be difficult that way.

He doesn’t take the phone from his ear for half a second to open the door himself. He doesn’t fall back and look sheepishly/imploringly at his girlfriend for her to open it. He just stops — doesn’t even turn to look at her — keeps talking on his cellphone, and waits for her to pass him and open it. She’s briefly distracted by the table of free magazines, and his face quickly registers annoyance at this tiny delay. She sees the face, moves around him, open the door for him, and he keeps walking. Doesn’t even look at her.

I make eye contact with her as she’s heading out. Realizing I just saw the whole thing, she smiles and rolls her eyes. I shake my head, hoping to convey “Break up with that jerk. Yesterday, if you can.” I hope she does.