Saturday, October 10, 2015

When He Just Won't Pay Attention

Out for a walk at lunchtime yesterday, I noticed a young couple standing on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, just east of Lafayette Square. He was not tall, probably bearded, wearing a white jacket; it was hard to see more of him because he was bent over his phone. She was about 5'2", pretty, with dark hair and fair complexion. She had a dissatisfied look. The only thing much distinguishing them from many other visitors may have been her bare feet. Otherwise she was dressed well within local norms, with a loose red top and brown pants.

She did a sudden twisting jump, carrying her from beside his right shoulder in the street onto the curb facing him, then after a moment hopped down to the pavement. He did not look up from his phone. By now I was watching them. After a moment, she raised her hands over her head. She bent backwards until her hands were flat on the pavement behind her and went smoothly to a handstand and back over to her feet. He did not look up from his phone.

It could be that he was checking with his phone to find the way to the National Gallery of Art, or a place to find lunch, or the way to where they stayed. It could be that she asked him to check, that her dissatisfied look came from half an hour of wandering lost rather than two minutes of concentration on the phone. It could be that he is used to this, that a telephone call from his workplace will send her cartwheeling until he hangs up. But I wonder whether a friend shouldn't suggest the merits of putting the phone down, and keeping his attention on the young woman instead.


  1. He may not have a friend. Or not any more.

    1. He may have Facebook or Instagram acquaintances who will have noticed a dissatisfied girlfriend on the edge of his selfies.