Friday, June 23, 2006


Cel phone conversations in public places are so common these days, it's easy to let them remain ambient noise. So it was today when I went to the bank, and there was a doughy guy sitting in the waiting area, hunched forward, legs frantically bouncing up and down. Late thirties maybe, thinning blond hair, wearing shorts and a knit shirt, an aging frat boy, barking into his phone.

There wasn't much of a line, only three people waiting in front of me, a young woman in a short skirt, a tall guy in a work uniform and a soccer mom type. Two tellers on duty, serving an elderly couple and a portly guy. The wait seems to be taking longer than it should for routine business. I try to ascertain some of what is going on at the counter, but all I can hear is Doughy Guy.

"Yeah, yeah, no...She's just...No, I've heard this, she's pulled this sort of...Amber and I...Amber and I...She's, Amber and I, that just makes her so...No, she can't believe it. She doesn't want to. She thinks...She, look, this is...What did she tell you?"

He stands and begins pacing. "She told you--no. We're not...We're not...As far as I'm concerned, we're not still married. Let her think...I...I don't care...Whatever."

The line moves forward. A line has formed behind me now. Everyone looks down or to the side, quiet. Doughy Guy gets louder.

"It's all about choices. She made hers, I made mine. She's gonna have to deal...No, she's gonna have to deal. Just deal. If she...tell her to just deal. Amber and I...Whatever, that's her, that's her, okay? Amber and I..."

The woman in the short skirt is at the counter. I'm next. The teller asks me my business, then asks me again; I couldn't quite hear her over Doughy Guy. I hand her my deposit slip and wait as she punches in my account number. Over at the next window, I hear the teller ask the short-skirted woman, "How would you like that cash back, Amber?"

Amber says something I can't hear, receives her cash and heads for the waiting area. Doughy Guy sees her coming and turns, barely acknowledging her presence, and marches out with her in tow. The door shuts behind them, and I notice the people waiting behind me relax from their poses of stiff indifference, some of them smiling at each other in silent understanding.

After only a few more seconds, the teller hands me my receipt and I head out myself. A large pickup is backing up, nearly hitting the car--my car--beside it. Doughy Guy has one hand on the wheel, the other still holding the phone to his ear, his mouth still moving, and Amber sits looking out the window, quiet and still.