I sat there, forcing myself into that uncomfortable space. Putting my phone away, feeling that “incredible loneliness”, as Louis put it. Listening, really listening, to my despair.
That Crillon cake was perfect. And the tea too. It’s good to be able to feel it; that aloneness. You can almost hear them, those unhappy thoughts, wailing as they crawl inside. And all those shiny happy faces… are they looking at you, wondering what you’re doing? No, they’re living out their lives, just as you are. You’re the stranger in the window they see for a fleeting second.
A moment of sonder strikes you. You leave a note for the stranger who will take your seat. “To the person who sits here next: have a wonderful day.”
You wonder who’ll get it, that note. A businessman with a laptop and too little time? Maybe your letter will make him pause and smile in the daily hurriedness of life. A saccharine-sweet couple, still sulking after a fight? Maybe it will make her laugh, and they’ll kiss and make up. Perhaps a young girl of fifteen, drinking high tea for the first time in her life, not sure how to pronounce her order right (Quillon cake, is it?), someone still awed by the pretentiousness of the big city; and your note will make her feel slightly welcome.
Maybe the guy who cleans up will pick it up and throw it away, he saw you sneak it back in the napkin tray before. He’s probably watching you now, this little waif of a girl (woman?) scribbling away on a napkin with a purple pen. The purple ink makes you smile, there’s a story behind it. There’s a story behind everything, isn’t there?
How would you judge a stranger who left you a note at your table, written in purple ink? Would you guess she was twenty-seven? Age has no ink colour, you think, chuckling to yourself. In your bag you’ve got green pens and blue pens and purple ones too. To remind yourself to be whimsical sometimes. The world is so meaningless anyway, why not live it in a sense of whimsy?
It’s a beautiful word, whimsy. Sad and pensive and foolish and ridiculous at once. You have only half a napkin left to scribble on, your thoughts are crowding in for the top spot, like little sperm-boys fighting to reach the prize. Hah! You’d never have written that five years ago. You really must be growing up. Finally.
It’s not so bad, this growing-up business. Even with the bills and rent and chores to go home to. As long as you remember, now and then, to live a little whimsy.