Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I overheard two people having a conversation today.

I was in James Dunn hall, in the main area where there is a Tim Hortons and lots of tables. This cafeteria is used by a lot of people to meet, sit and talk, do work, have a coffee, whatever. People come in and out from across the quad, on the way to classes, and also go through the building to get to things on the other side like parking lots, the SUB, etc. It’s the sort of place where there is a high volume of people moving through, but if you sit there often enough, as I do, you see a lot of the same faces, other people who also use it for doing work or eating, meeting friends.

A table over from where I sat, reading a chapter of Economics before my class at ten, there was a guy I see often. He looks to be in his early thirties, and is always reading. He has a sort of interesting face, he wears a red jacket. A girl I also see fairly often, thin with long curly dark hair and tweezed eyebrows, fashionable clothes, was standing talking to him. She had apparently met someone. We’ll call the guy she had met Bill, and the guy she was talking to Harry, to protect the innocent.

“[Harry], I met someone,” she said. “At the bar a little while ago, and we exchanged emails. We only talked for, like, ten minutes, but we had a real connection!” The way she said it belied maybe she was a little cynical about her own enthusiasm. Still, she was excited about this guy.

“So then [Bill] wrote me maybe two weeks ago, and then a few minutes later I got a spam email, you know, one of those ones you get for debt relief or whatever, and the subject line was '[Bill] is beautiful.' How weird is that, [Harry]?”

Harry thought about this. “Well, I think your mind is making connections between things that may or may not be a coincidence because you’re trying to rationalize going out with this guy. You know? If you weren’t already looking for a sign, would you see one?”

“Yeah, but still!” She countered.

Harry continued. “A few months ago you were happy to be single, doing your own thing, and now you’re finding small signs to rationalize going out with someone? I think you’re ready to date again.”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” she said. “I do like being in a relationship.” “Yeah,” Harry said, “You like what other people can do for you.”

“No, that’s not true!” She said, shifting her weight, protesting happily. “I like to take care of other people, give love.”

Then they talked about Harry’s own likelihood of marriage with his live-in girlfriend. I didn’t exactly zone out, but the rest of their conversation isn’t important for our purposes here.

As I was walking in my front door this afternoon, I was thinking about my own relationship situations of the past little while, and all the ‘signs’ I tend to find for various reasons, especially when it’s easier to assume what someone else feels than to communicate properly. Then I thought: maybe my overhearing their conversation is a sign!

Now you tell me: is that ironic, or just sad?

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