Benches

Benches

Benches

I’ve spent much of the last twenty years working on a theory that suggests the only people who sit on park benches are old men. I was driving a month ago and I saw an old man on a park bench in Williams Bay. He looked comfortable and contemplative, looking out to the great expanse of water that I could tell fit his eye. He was calm and lacked hurry, like he had nothing to do but the thing he was doing. And what he was doing, after all, was nothing. He was sitting and looking. Thinking and wondering. Content in his decision to do nothing but observe. Even though he looked comfortable and calm I know well enough that park benches are not comfortable. They are hard and usually damp. And if not damp then the paint is peeling and it sticks to your white shorts. This is why I assumed that park benches are made for old men and old men only, since they don’t wear white shorts and they are usually already uncomfortable so the hard bench suits them just fine. But then yesterday I noticed a middle aged couple sitting on a park bench doing the same thing. Just resting and reveling. I thought perhaps this was an anomaly, and clung tighter to my theory. I was barely five hundred feet down the road when I saw another bench sitter, this time a woman, perhaps sixty years of age, sitting as though she, too, were comfortable and deep in restful bliss. Odd, I thought. Until later down the road I saw still another couple, this pair younger than me, sitting on their own green bench looking to the water, seemingly enjoying each others company. They weren’t fidgeting or looking through at their phones. They were just sitting and taking in the scene like someone had put them up to it. In the span of a quarter mile the theory that I’ve been working on for years had been quashed. Maybe later today I’ll attempt to sit on a park bench and let you know how it goes. Odds are I’ll find it uncomfortable and restless, but until I try it I can’t be certain.

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