“One hour and ten minutes,” the young man says. Huge round eyes. He doesn’t need those long, curled-up eyelashes, I decide, with the attitude of myself about forty years ago. This time keeping to myself what my best friend (of my childhood and early youth) and I back then protested out loud at every sight of her brother – the owner of a set of huge round eyes: long, curled-up eyelashes included. Each time, we concluded that no man needed eye enhancers; we, however, did – and in desperation, at that. We were in big envy for any and all of our male counterparts in those insecure years of our lives. They just must have cut in front of the line when such beauty marks were distributed, we deliberated after such encounters. Eyes, after all, meant everything in my home culture. The history with volumes of literary and musical work attests to that.
One hour and ten minutes, I realize, is a long time just to be waiting. My friend (of this and any upcoming age) isn’t here yet and I don’t know if she would want to try elsewhere. So, I squeeze myself through a shoulder-to-shoulder as well as elbow-to-upper/lower-back lobby crowd all the way into a one-and-a-half-person corner close to the entrance, somewhere between the exit-to-patio door and the line to the bar area. If she thinks we should not wait here, we can leave with ease.
She likes it here as much as I do: We are staying. Along with the non-wavering wait-time estimation. We comment a little about what on earth could be going on – again –to have such a big crowd in line. Our complaint is short-lived. Soon, we get lost in our mother tongue with all its unwritten requirements for hands and face gestures. Until a soft voiced question cuts it: “I’m sorry but what is the language you are speaking?”
Oh no! Intrusion! If this situation had risen on any of my friend’s social media accounts or those of mine, … .
Had we been talking with that much of an increased volume in our voices, my friend’s questioning eyes meet mine. We had only been trying to outdo all other vocal power structures around us. With a shaking twitter, I ask, if our conversation had been too loud for them. The answer of this very good looking, young couple – yes, they talk together all at once – is negative. They were only curious, is the word. Now, my friend and I, too, succumb to curiosity. Not about the English they are speaking in flawless mastery. About them. They started it after all! Also: They don’t turn their backs at us as soon as they find out the language of communication between countless generations before us in our home country.
An inquisitive female – one of the two core components of a delightful pair. He, not as talkative in words as she but sharing with us in generosity an equally warm and charming personality, while being openly as eager to interact with strangers who speak strange languages. Neither one of them being nosy, pushy, or obnoxious but graceful in their apparent enthusiasm. Turkish, French, Greek, Swedish, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Italian are the languages, and Turkey, Greece, Italy and China, the countries we visit together on a virtual tour.
Our seats are ready exactly one hour and five minutes later. The young man with those remarkable eyes wasn’t exaggerating after all, for the sake of a surprise intended only for my friend and I. By having our table be made ready for us sooner. (When a woman has matured, finally to keep up with her biological age at least on occasion, she allows herself the luxury of self-tease even in a basic restaurant setting. It is a far more wondrous of an experience when a dear friend meets her on that very same platform at the very same time. The laughter that ensues such non-decodable secrecy is pure happiness.)
Stomach-hungry but with even hungrier eyes, we earn the privilege to be seated down. Our eyes are searching for other diners being led into the dining quarters. None of them resemble any of the two core halves of the couple we had the joy to meet and talk with for an entire hour (the five minutes had passed in our lonely one-and-half-person corner). Throughout our wine, salad and dinner routine, we sum up with thirst the highlight of our long wait’s award. We agree that this time it isn’t the food or wine of our usual selections. As we have had many times before. That it rather is the intrusion we welcomed two strangers to make into our private spheres. For, through their refreshing presence of innocent and passionate curiosity, they gave us a sense of rejuvenation.
After that evening, I decide to alter my rather rigid privacy settings I had for long copied from my social media environments, having pasted them on to my real life time and again. I since realize how much more wonder there is to enjoy in the seemingly most mundane interactions with strangers – people we tend to leave outside our comfort zone at any chance we get. How, though, a kind word of attention, a question of curiosity, a reaction of astonishment from them can transform itself into a memorable moment as it has with me. And to what significance that moment matters on the scale of life. It is, after all, not merely breathed in and out but rather lived in the full extent that it deserves.