Her head is exaggeratedly poised on a stiffly held neck; her expression overloaded with feigned interest in what he is saying, which by the way, is a whole lot of nothing. He sits back languidly in his seat, legs crossed, ensuring his hand and cigarette are just so and that his expression conveys the right amount of vaguely bored relaxedness. The other man and woman at the table parrot each other, interjecting when they can, and even when they can't, to ensure equal screen time for all whilst furtively scanning their surroundings.
This party of four has been coming here ever since they discovered it would be fashionable to do so, although the restaurant has been around for almost twenty years. And each visit produces a repetitive set of minutely rehearsed theatricals such as those described above.
Their survival (the survival of their lies) is based on obliviousness, real or feigned. This total disregard frees them from any unwelcome revelation, truth and thus responsibility. I on the other hand, as many of you, can't help but feel complicit to a situation once I have become aware of it; feel as though I must take some sort of action.
And so here they sit: the heavily painted diva fiddling with her slightly fried hair, leaning into the table, speaking ever louder and laughing uproariously at ill timed bursts, tandem to innumerous bathroom visits for makeup checks.
Next come the Mr.and Mrs. ranting on about their amazing love story and extraordinary life together, further immortalized across all social media, though in all these months that I have waited on them I've never seen them touch or steal an intimate moment ever.
And then comes the "baby", the self proclaimed bachelor who still lives at home with his mother while playing the hot shot lover around town. He is the still life portrait of sexual and emotional restraint until something worthy comes along. When opportunity doesn't knock he bums a ride home and slips into his childhood bedroom leaving his smoke permeated clothes by the door for his mother to tend to.
Some of their conversations could be forgiven in the mouths of prepubescents, but these are thirty and forty somethings.
And before you go feeling sorry for them or pitying their pathetic ways, pay close attention. Under all the forced laughter and banter there lies a steely (arrogant competitive indifference) narcissistic determination to cement all that is being said and done for posterity and to allow no one or nothing to besmirch, challenge or defy this grand performance, thus making them dangerous.
The problem being that moonlight reflected in a puddle of diseased muddy water looks romantic until the unforgiving/unapologetic light of day reveals all.
Title photo by BROTE studios