Monday, October 18, 2004

Going out with an astronaut

I am in Baltimore for a meeting so blogging is a bit erratic.

Monday night was the grand opening of yet another movie theater in town. When I first arrived in Washington, I could not help but lament the sorry state of movie theaters. They were hardly any. Now DC is probably the town with the most movie screens per inhabitant in the US.
The opening of the 14 screens giant theater in the heart of Chinatown was celebrated by special $1 tickets. I'm not sure what I expected but the place is completely mobbed when I showed up so I decided to go home instead. I'm in the bus when three young women enter. There is a clear leader to the group, a woman with short blond hair wearing a beige parka, who asks the driver about the bus' route. She sits in front of me with her brunette friend. The third woman, another blond with long hair in a pony tail takes the seat across the aisle from them. They're talking loudly about an upcoming party. The woman with the beige parka is commenting on her housemate, that they get along, but still don't want to do everything together. She is speaking with an accent that I cannot recognize. Judging from the words she drops from time to time, she is clearly fluent in French (or at least she pronounces it without any hint of an accent) but she is clearly not French. The conversation quickly drifts to the schedule to the other woman, sitting across. She is a tourist, in town for a few days. She speaks with the same foreign accent than her friend and she describes in details her visit to the Air and Space museum and her excitement seeing rockets, satellite and spacecrafts. Her friend interrupts "Did I tell you I met an astronaut?" The question is asked with a tone that does not require an answer. This is clearly understood by both women who stay silent expecting the rest of the story. "I was at this party and I met this astronaut. He is cute and he is single." The two friends are smiling. "I got his phone number and will call him up to invite him to speak to our office". Smooth move. The three exchange conspiratorial looks.
This is when a tall black guy wearing braids and a large red hat comes on board. He sits next to the blond tourist and she looks at her friends rolling her eyes. But she does not interest him. He is looking over the shoulder of the woman on his left who is reading what looks like photocopies of transcripts. He is so captivated by them that, when the woman turns the page, he holds it so that he could keep on reading. She can't ignore him and raises her head. "What are you reading?" he asks very naturally. "Job applications. I work at a law firm and these are jobs applications." She answers as naturally and not at all surprised by his question. Law firm and jobs applications are much less attracting that what he may have thought these were. He stops reading but she is done anyway or maybe she just realized that reading jobs applications in public was not a correct thing to do. Exposing the lives of the people to everybody's eyes.
She has folded her files and put them back in her brown leather bag. He is looking straight ahead. The three women have also followed the scene and exchange glances. They get out soon after.


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