Today, on a street corner, I accidentally avoided a man selling magazines. He thought I did it on purpose. He called me out, and I went with it.
After asking me if I had just dodged him on purpose and hearing me respond with a, “Yes, I totally just dodged you on purpose,” he started telling jokes to an old couple who, like me, stood at the corner waiting for the light to change. He said they were obviously newlyweds. I believed him and turned around.
They weren’t newlyweds at all. They were old people.
As I thought about who these people really were, I struggled with calling myself gullible. I settled with the idea that I’m trusting; city life hasn’t hardened me yet.
I then flashed a look at the hands belonging to the two people behind me who, maybe, for a nano-second a few moments before, I had turned around to see because I thought maybe they were a young couple walking down Michigan Avenue clad in wedding attire. I thought maybe her veil was blowing in the wind and he had only loosened his tie a little smidge of a bit. I thought maybe they were on their way across the street to The Art Institute. I thought maybe they were embarking on a personal sacred retreat. They were on their way to stand side-by-side in silence in front of the Chagall where they first laid eyes on each other. I assumed they would remember that day, four years ago, when they were lost in their minds and at home with Chagall. No, that wasn’t true. They had probably both heard that Weepies song, the one that said something about “a painting by Chagall.” They totally just wanted to see what it was all about.
These people attached to the hands my eyes quickly surveyed weren’t those people, though. They were old people. But, they weren’t the been-married-since-the-dawn-of-time old people the magazine salesman had implied. It was clear to me, by their ring-less fingers, that they had just started dating. Their lives had been empty before, not tragic, but empty. Neither of them had ever married, and now they had each other. They were taking the day to pretend to play hooky. They had to pretend because, in reality, they weren’t playing hooky from anything except independence.
I don’t know why the man on the corner thought he was so ironic calling them newlyweds. Had I not been looking at their hands I probably would not have seen in their faces what I didn’t in their hands: the funny reaction that man was searching for. Some people just jump to conclusions about those around them before knowing the facts. Thank the world I’m not like that.