A 30-day blog project: Something Found, Something Written, and Something Made.
I recently found this in one of my old journals:
“Have you seen the whale?”
The Grouchy Man Story, the Real One
Once Upon a Time Steve and I spent a good but emotional weekend in Annapolis, Maryland in order to attend our youngest son’s college graduation ceremony.
Right before we needed to leave for the airport, Wes and I were standing outside a coffeeshop waiting for Steve to return. Wes, who is amazing and wonderful and perfect in every way — but not necessarily super demonstrative with his affection — asked me to smile as he held up his cameraphone.
This was unusual, but I complied happily.
Wes seemed to be taking a long time taking this parting photo, but I chalked it up to him not really knowing how to use his phone. I kept smiling.
At some point I was aware that two middle-aged, shorts-sporting men were standing on the sidewalk near us but, possibly due to my extreme state of pity for Wes (who, a college grad now and 21 years of age, clearly had no idea how to use the camera function on his phone), or possibly due also to the glowy feeling of having said son give me some attention (or both), I didn’t give the men much thought.
Enter Steve. He emerged from the coffeehouse, assessed the situation, and quickly told the men that they didn’t need to wait for us, to go ahead and pass behind us.
This isn’t the first time I’ve missed something obvious while living in my own little world. Two years ago I copied down the following sentence in my journal: “Have you seen the whale?”
My friend Robert had asked me this as I passed him at the corner of Yesler and 1st Avenue on a day in January 2015. I laughed and shook my head “no.”
Then, delighted with the strange question, I rushed home to write it down. How absurd!
(I didn’t find out until days later that a 30-foot gray whale had been found under the Seattle ferry terminal, about 100 yards away. A real whale, people! Robert was actually asking me if I had seen the whale.)
But back to Grouchy Man.
“Are they done?” he asked.
“Yes,” Steve assured, waving them along encouragingly.
“Well you could have TOLD us that!” Angry Man shouted as he stormed past.
The three of us stared, confused.
The thing is we weren’t finished, as Wes (bless his heart) was at that moment still fumbling with his phone. How could I have told him ahead of time that we had finished when, clearly, we hadn’t?
I understood that this man was trying to be polite, I did. But my heart went out to poor Wes… in a few minutes we would be leaving him all alone with The Grouchy Angry Man and his Petite Polite Posse.
And he didn’t even know how to use his phone.*
Have a wonderful day!
* Wes knows how to use his phone. He was making a video.