I was reading this Sunday morning at Starbucks on the patio when a man sits down with two cups. He waits for a while. I continue reading about how writers start to see the world differently. We start seeing the word as writers, mentally noting all the little nuances and idiosyncrasies, textures and smells. A woman, I assume his wife, eventually join hime and they sit together in silence for several minutes, neither venturing a word except his forced attempt at a joke “Do I know you?” before handing her a cup. The couple struck me as worthy of observing, even if they were not speaking. He was blue-collar through and through with a racing hat and a Hitler style mustache giving him an edgy appearance. She seemed your average church-going gossip type with an average job and too many kids to think about spending time at the gym or a book store. It was a Hemingway moment. Then he wells over, whatever frustration he had been letting fester away inside- something about his daughter and her date to Thanksgiving and why they would not sit with them. Vitriol. Bitterness. Sadness couched in machismo. She gave her input, he disagreed, and more silence followed. Then he talked about getting Christmas tree and she said it was too early. He convinced her it was not. Then he spoke about work and someone he needed to talk to. She told him it wasn’t his place. He argued that it was. She retreated. Sip after sip they thought and commented and then thought some more. All the while I listened with a book open before me and marveling how open they were with a quiet stranger so close. Was this an intimate moment shared between them where they let their guard down to say things meant only for each other? Or did this interaction represent their state of affairs and how they viewed and interacted with their world. I did not have much time to ponder the matter, for just as they had arrived, they departed- alone, he in his oversized truck, she in her SUV. And I was left with sudden insight into the lives of married couples, happy or not, who say so little and yet too much. This seemed to me a snapshot of the modern American middle class. I left a little sadder this morning than when I arrived.