Sometimes we go people-watching at the Elgin Street Diner at two in the morning. Not just cause it’s one of the only places still open, but because it tends to be too busy before then. It’s hard to point someone out or steal a glance without being noticed when the tables are all occupied.
We try to figure out relationships from the way people sit, stories from the state of their shoes. Mostly it’s young drunks, trying to settle their stomachs with some grease before heading home. Frat boys from the bars, clusters of girls in tight dresses from the clubs. The ones who’ve had too much are easy to spot: when they aren’t making a beeline to the bathroom, they’re staring at their plates, wondering how much warning they’ll need for the next run.
But every so often is an enigma, like four men in cargo shorts who aren’t young enough to be single, but not old enough to be divorced. The corporate logos on their golf shirts belie the no-upkeep, don’t-care-anymore look that comes with fatherhood. It’s a breed rarely seen out beyond nine on a Thursday night, and one that looks especially out of place at a time when the only cars on the road are taxis and cruisers.
I don’t judge, but I sure do wonder.
This is our way of escaping the regular lives we lead, before catching up on enough sleep to beat morning rush-hour on the way home, and back to another day of reality. No one told us about the roles we had to play as adults, or the responsibilities that come with it. To combat signs of aging, share onion-bacon poutine, chocolate-banana milkshakes, and a slice of peanut-butter cake every now and then. Just an hour here is plenty, as long as it’s done on a regular basis.
When we’re fending off exhaustion to spend one more moment in each other’s company, sharing food we shouldn’t eat and words we shouldn’t say, I know I’m the only one she wants to be with there. It’s more proof to me than the things she writes and the rituals we share. So many people take that kind of unspoken faith for granted, but it’s still new to me, and I’m learning how much I need to be special to someone.