Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Lovers of Teruel

February, being a month of love, I begin with a story that happened at Barbès, a music and arts venue located near the corner of 9th Street and 6th Avenue in Park Slope. Barbès runs the full length of the ground floor of a converted brownstone house - so it's long and thin. There a bar running half the length of the front room as well as tables and chairs. An archway/door leads into the back part where the musicians perform and there are chairs in rows. There is live jazz/world music every night at Barbès. You can check their calendar here: ).

Early in the evening on some nights, before the musicians set up, there are (or were, I haven't been in a while) other types of artistic presentations which I think are arranged by the hosts of those events. The night I am writing about, I was there with a friend to listen to his friend, an author, reading from her newly-published book.

After the reading and Q&A, my friend Sergio and I went into the front section of Barbès and were lucky enough to get a table. We ordered something to drink and were talking and looking around at the people. That's when I spotted a couple across the room standing at the wall.

They were about the same height. She was in heels and he was about an inch taller than her - maybe 5'7". Both of them were blond - dusky blond and 28 years old, maybe. His hair was short and wavy. Hers was curled and shoulder length. I presumed, rightly or wrongly, from his tan work boots that he worked in construction. He certainly seemed to have strength. She wore a dress, a dark red wraparound dress. It wasn't seductive, not low cut or too tight, just very feminine. Her shoes were black, with thick heels, not spiky. He wore a t-shirt, jacket, and jeans. None of this matters.

He reminded me of a humble farmer, confused by women, and loving this one.  A man so in love that I couldn't stop watching him. How did I know? I'm not sure I can explain. It was his body language. His one arm holding a beer bottle, but not in front of his body to defend himself, but rather, straight out from his elbow. His other arm hung at his side - no hand in his pocket. His chest was open, his heart available to her. He didn't shuffle his feet nervously. And he never took his eyes away from her. She so obviously knew he was smitten and that may have given her confidence because she was animated and did most of the talking, none of which I could hear. But she wasn't playing with him. I could see by the way she looked away every once in a while for a millisecond, that she just didn't know what to do about this man who looked at her so intently.

Then something happened to break my heart.

She took his empty beer bottle and walked away to get them another drink. And then, he looked at the floor. Yes, in a room full of distraction, pretty women, conversations, the sound of the music that had begun playing, he looked at the floor. Waiting. Waiting for her to return. And when she did, he didn't smile, he just looked at her again. The sun had gone away behind a cloud and now it was back and he turned his face toward it.

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