Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Lonely Woman

Nah, not me, silly. This is about a woman who stopped me on E. 89th on Saturday and proceeded to bend my ear about her life. Here's how it went down.

Bailey and I had just finished our little afternoon jaunt in the park and had crossed Park Avenue on our way home. (So near, and yet so far.) I was in a bit of a hurry because I was meeting friends for dinner and an off-Broadway play in the Village. (Doesn't that sound cool? Well, it was. But I digress.)

So I'm walkin' and I see this woman a few yards ahead of me - streaky blond pageboy hair, seersucker tennis dress, and the obligatory tennis racket. I notice she makes some comment to a guy she passes - looks like she might know him, but no. Just being friendly. Still, I'm in a hurry and clippin' along. Bailey and I almost make it by her - women on a mission, doncha' know - when she stops me and says, Oh, how cute! Is she a Chow-mix?

Why, yes she is. Big mistake. Never stop. Never. Just smile, nod, and keep walkin'. So, I'm about to walk off, when this suburbany-lookin' woman, launches into a completely off-the-wall conversation about how she'd moved up to NY several years ago from West Palm Beach, her children were grown, she was divorced but had had two relationships with men since coming to the city, yadda-yadda-yadda.

Jeez. What does one do? I'm in a massive hurry - tick-tock-tick-tock - but this woman is talking to me like I'm her new best friend. I'm trying to be polite (which I'm quickly learning is big negative with taxi drivers and, I guess, Upper East Side matrons) - smiling, nodding, inching my way toward Lex. Yikes! I won't go into all the details of this poor lady's life, but it did go on for about fifteen minutes.

Finally, my sweet Southern girl politeness wore off - I mean, I had a dinner and theatre in the Village waiting for me, for goodness' sake! I wished the woman well, and Bailey and I jogged the rest of the way home.

But I kinda wonder about the tennis-chick who stopped me on Saturday afternoon. What kind of person pulls aside a total stranger (just because I look like a nice person . . . ) and tells her really private stuff? Not that I'm beyond a friendly conversation with a stranger. But not private stuff. I hardly do that with good friends or family.

Was she crazy? Depressed? Lonely? Frustrated? None or all of the above? Whatever the case, I lent what sympathy I could, and maybe that's all she needed. I do hope she finds some kind of peace with her lot in life or makes a big, positive change (besides stopping strangers on the street). Ah, well.

2 comments:

Liz said...

There are lots of Eleanor Rigbys about. My son attracts them and I think he got that off me.

We were out on a family walk a few weeks ago and an elderly gentleman latched himself onto me. It is sooo hard being naturaly polite!

Although his story sounded quite interesting - or would have been if it hadn't been so disjointed!

MaryB said...

Yes, I do wonder if I'll develop a shell and stop being so polite.

I had a taxi-driver yell at me the other day for being too nice. I'd tried to suggest (nicely) that he was going the wrong way (he was) and he didn't latch on to the seriousness of it until he'd tried to dump me at 38th instead of 88th. He told me it wasn't his fault - that a real New Yorker would've been screaming her head off at him.

Ah, well. Don't know that I'll ever be able to do that. But I will try to keep walking if another Eleanor Rigby (perfect, Liz!) approaches.