I've always enjoyed people watching. The fun of watching how couples, especially, interact with each other and then trying to fill in a story line to match their behavior.
We went to the casino over the weekend to sit and listen to some live music. The couples at a casino run the spectrum from the "daters" to the seasoned couples who've celebrated their 40th anniversary already.
I see a lot of things that remind me of couples I've known in the past. One couple, an elderly couple, sat across from us while we grabbed a bite to eat. They were in a booth, she on one side near the edge of the table perhaps so she could make a quick get away, and he on the other side, hugging the wall, perhaps seeking support if she bored him to death. She was made up, her hair freshly done, her cloths neatly pressed and matching perfectly. She was quite beautiful, an attractive figure, and the soft lines in her face seemed to draw you in to see what lay behind those blue eyes. He was thrown together, unshaven, hair barely combed. His outfit had been purchased some time in the 60s and he liked it, it was comfortable. As they ate, not a word was spoken between them. We watched them for nearly an hour, she stared straight ahead and he just looked at his food. Occassionally a woman would pass by and catch her eye. She seemed to be observing the fashions and perhaps remembering when she too was the center of someone's attention. This was sad to watch because this woman was not done with her life. She wanted and was ready for more. Why couldn't she be like the other women she knew, traveling and having fun with the man in their life? She had done her job and done it well. The kids were raised, all successful, the house was pristien and well maintained, her husband tended to. Where had she gone wrong? Where did the fun in her life go?
I thought I might have detected a bit a bitterness as a happy elderly couple walked by. I think I saw a resolve in her eye and perhaps a slight grin on her face. She looked towards her husband and daggers flew from her eyes. "I'll out live you, you SOB, and then I'll have the life you've taken from me!"
I've seen many a woman look at her husband that way. It is unfortunate when a woman focuses on her "duties" as she sees them, and looses track of the woman inside. Women often work so hard at raising children, creating a home, and doing the incredibly consuming task of being a mom that when its over and she turns the corner, ready to be a wife again, what she finds is that somewhere along the way her husband turned into something boring and unattractive. She is ready to live again only to find herself alone with some fat, balding, and inconsiderate man living in her home.
A similar thing happens to many men. I think that when men finish their careers, many suddenly find themselves face to face with a woman they barely know. They've spent little time getting to know her much less learning how to fulfill her needs or her desires. Now the kids are gone, the job is gone, and they find everything that defined them as a man gone. Here they are adrift in life without a purpose like a ship without a rudder.
It's sad to watch a couple like this struggle to remain a couple. Each appears to be waiting for the other to die so they can attempt to salvage some part of their life.
I will also point out that I've watched several mature couples who seem to get an injection of youth as the very moment the last child leaves the nest. These are the lucky ones. The ones who dance the night away, go on the couples cruises, perhaps even gets a bit naughty like they did as teenagers. This is the group I hope to be with if I ever get old.
These are life's winners!