I went out to breakfast by myself this morning. I normally try to avoid paying too much attention to what other people are talking about, because I prefer to pretend I am alone in the world after some sort of armageddon, but I do not always succeed in this fantasy.
A teenage boy and his father sat at the table right next to mine. The boy looked to be about 16, and something about the way he phrased things and his speech pattern reminded me a lot of the kid, so I began to half listen, because it was familiar and comforting. They were waiting for a couple of other people to join them, and making bits of smalltalk, mostly about what to order.
Then the father asked “How is [girl’s name]?” And the boy said, “Fine,” in that age old teenage way that could mean anything from she is totally amazing to she died 5 weeks ago, and I’ve already forgotten her.
Then there was a pause.
And the boy said, “I don’t know, Dad. Sometimes, it just seems like it is so hard to talk to her. It is like I have to PRY things out of her. I have to ask all these questions because the conversation just doesn’t happen easily and feel comfortable. I don’t really like it. I WANT it to be different. I can’t exactly say that to her. I can’t tell her that I wish our conversations felt more comfortable, because that will just upset her and I don’t want to do that.”
There was a longer pause and the boy was looking intently at his father.
Finally his father said, “Yeah, uh, conversations can be difficult. I’ll be right back.” He got up and went to the bathroom.
The boy sat for a few beats, and then pulled out his cell phone and started texting.
I wanted to cry into my coffee.