“The Vibe”


A French woman

In her forties or late thirties?

I like the way her hair is done up

Her friend is a boor, a bully, she interrupts

She is quiet

She is polite

She doesn’t know if she’d want a man, at her age

With the life she has built for herself

Maybe she’s older

There must be other things but in this coffee shop she is polite and she has a charming accent

I don’t know if she’s very attractive

She almost moved across the country for a man

An Alberta farmer with two daughters

And two women he considers “friends with benefits”

She says this matter-of-factly

Without blame or accusation

“Can you believe I almost did that?”


“I really loved him.”

She mentions her step-mother

Her friend: “I heard she was mean to you, I heard she used to put you down.”

She: “She did. But I’m trying to accept people for who they are.”

As she leaves she says that


I’m confused about my own life

Which is why I’m so interested in others



I asked for two final letters of recommendation from professors

Writing those emails was hard

But not for any practical reason


It sounds like there’s an insincere psychologist at the table next to me

A social worker?

She ignores the person she seems like she’s meant to help

A quiet person

More than ignores—the psychologist or social worker is, frankly, condescending

The quiet woman has all kinds of problems

When the social worker gets up to go to the bathroom the quiet woman turns around and is surprised to see me sitting behind her

“You were so quiet I didn’t know anyone was there”

Maybe she’s embarrassed, but she seems friendly


Now a couple in their mid-thirties, early forties, walks in, and sits next to me on the bank of couches

It feels rude to listen to these two

So I’m not really

But they sat next to me

They have an air of intimacy

As if I’m interrupting

Things get quiet and they kiss

It makes me vaguely uncomfortable

Because they seem a little bit embarrassed or aware that I’m right next to them

That I’m a party to whatever it is that’s happening

They turn and look at the paintings

I’m sitting in front of the paintings

They’re looking at me


Now they’re having an argument

A little one

“You would tell me if anything were otherwise, right?”

“Yes, of course”

“You would absolutely tell me, right?”

“Yes, of course”

He’s defensive

It’s no longer a little argument

I’m sick listening to this man

I don’t know why

He disgusts me

He’s not saying anything of substance, really

Last summer he spent a lot of time at “The Vibe,” picking up girls

With long hair (he had long hair)

She’s been told

For six weeks, she says, last year

He denies it but she can feel it

“The Vibe” is a gross club that no longer exists

And now she’s crying

Something’s wrong but she doesn’t know what

He says nothing else

And I am a party to this

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