They are at the table behind me.
I don't turn to look, but I can tell
they are young: twenties. Their bright
voices utter pronouncements,
laughing with assurance. I hear
one woman, two men. One man
talks loudest, leads the conversation,
shares his absolute insights
about life and people. He knows
how both behave, and how
they can be manipulated — for money.
He is telling the other two how much
he is set for success. They believe.
The girl (for I think she is barely
out of school) is almost equally assured
or wants them to think so. She agrees
airily with what the first man says, as if
she too knows, but needs his brilliance
to articulate what's so. If they are not quite
flirting, these two, they are at least trying
to impress. Without looking, I see
they are wearing very smart clothes. She
is well-fed blonde; no I don't mean fat, but with
that lovely layer of plumping under the skin
giving that skin a sunny transparence.
She knows she's got it, that lucky look.
The other man, third wheel, is not in the race.
He is the somewhat subordinate friend
they tolerate, laugh at, and then flatter
just a little bit, to keep him attached.
They scoff at his first remarks; then, after he
has been suitably abashed ten minutes or so,
they gradually start to take him more seriously,
or so it seems. Encouraged now, he expresses
further tentative opinions, kindly received. They
need him, or someone just like him. Meanwhile
I am tired: find myself nodding despite coffee.
I begin to pack up my things, and risk a look —
oh no! Can't believe I got them so exactly right.