Fragment uit Waiterrant

door Vulpius

Een van mijn favoriete blogs, Waiterrant, had onlangs dit fragment in een verhaaltje.

I go back into the dining room. The old man’s staring off into space. His watery blue eyes remind me of a fearful child scanning the horizon, wondering who’s going to be the next person to hurt him. He looks like the world broke him like a dollar bill and didn’t give him back any change. The world’s full of people like him, hurting folk who, for whatever reason, are profoundly cut off from the human race. Unable to form or maintain relationships, but craving social contact nonetheless, they hang around the periphery of normal human activity. You see them all the time, walking around the mall, eating alone in diners, hanging out in Starbucks – surviving off the residual energy of other people’s lives. Relationships for these people are superficial encounters with waiters and cops, doormen and librarians, pretty girls who, trying to feel better about themselves, toss them two minutes of conversation while waiting in line for caramel lattes. Every restaurant has at least one customer fitting this description. Maybe it’s an old widower who sits at the same table and orders the same thing every week. Maybe it’s the uptight Yuppie guy hiding behind a book or the daytime spinster drowning nightly dreams of Mr. Right under a sea of Cosmopolitans. I can tell this old man isn’t coming here just for Zuppa di Pesce. He’s trying to satisfy a hunger no amount of food will sate.

I have no idea why this man is the way he is. Maybe he’s a veteran of war, still hearing wounded men screaming for their mothers like it was yesterday. Maybe he lost his wife in an accident or his best years in prison. Maybe his infant daughter drowned in a bathtub while her mother talked to a salesman hawking vacuum cleaners at the front door. Maybe he was a drunk or a junkie. I’ll probably never know. He is who he is.