An older gentleman was reading a newspaper and sitting next to me at Starbucks, where I was waiting for my student, and he suddenly turns to me and asks, “Do you watch a lot of TV?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess?” I shrugged, because, well, I do, but mostly on Netflix.
“Have you ever watched ‘Justified’?” He looked eagerly anticipatory…like asking me about my favorite band.
“Yeah, a few times.”
“Did you like it? I dunno if kids your age like it.” At this, he looked at the counter, then his feet, as if he was unsure of my age, and didn’t want to offend me.
“Yeah, I liked it, but I don’t have cable any more, soo…” I trailed off, shrugging.
“Oh, that’s a shame. My Tuesday nights are reserved for ‘Justified.’ There’s not a lot worth watching on TV these days, but that is just a great show.” As he spoke, he had a look of pure joy on his face, the corners of his eyes crinkling even as they opened wider to accentuate certain words.
“I have some friends who like it…I mean, we’re in our late 20s and early 30s, and it seems pretty popular from what I can tell. I just don’t have FX, so I never watch it. I think I have Season 1 lying around somewhere on DVD, though.” I commenced to babbling a bit, because it was just fascinating watching him listen.
I watched him look my face over, take in my ponytail through the back of my cap (with streaks of blue in the red), trying to guess my age. He sat for a few seconds, silent, then nodded.
“I just enjoy it a lot. That’s just a great show…I’m sorry for just interrupting you like that, but I saw something about it in the paper, and I wanted to know if you’d heard of it.” He gestured to the Entertainment section of the local paper as he said this, rattling and straightening it so that I could see that, indeed, this was not a random thought that just popped into his head.
He then began talking about singers (I was singing along with Sinatra standards while waiting, so I think he felt he could talk to me because of that?) and mentioned he was going to see an older jazz singer. He said, “He’s older than *I* am, even…heh…he’s 72…I’m 61…so, you know…”
This man did not look a day over 45.
I told him as much, and he blushed and told me thanks, and then proceeded to hum along to the songs playing while glancing at me occasionally from his newspaper. I kept singing, because why not? I enjoy some standards, and I was in the corner where no one could hear me except him.
About 10 minutes later, he left abruptly (I believe he wanted to get home in time to catch his favorite show), not saying a word to me in the process. He glanced back quickly and hesitated, but then continued quickly to the door.
Random encounters are sometimes the most amusing, don’tcha think?