Do men and women smoke cigars in public the same way they do in private? Case in point sans cigars. We were sitting in a restaurant on Halsted in Chicago down the street from The Steppenwolf Theatre where Tracy Letts’s “Vista Linda” was premiering. We’ve eaten there before and the food is good. A tad on the high side – but good.
There’s an alcove in the back that is our preferred seating. I can’t say for sure but there was this couple eating in the table off to the side that I believe were there last time when we saw, “Straight White Men” by Young Jeane Lee. The guy reminds me a lot of Larry David of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The difference, of course, being that he wasn’t Larry David. He just looked like Larry David.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice this fellow who was seated a bit to my right, but when I’m sitting he’s really straight ahead of me. He was eating a salad. And he was acting so proper I couldn’t take my eyes off his overt mannerisms as he ate his salad. He was with a woman, maybe his wife. Though I have yet to get a look at her – this time or last.
Was I staring at him? I suppose. I do that. Not blatantly, but out of subjective curiosity. He was none the wiser. Plus the resemblance to Larry David made it all the more interesting for me to continue this innocent voyeuristic activity.
While I watched, I noticed how well-mannered and polite he was. He seemed antiseptic, a bit unreal – a Stepford Larry David. I am well aware that people are supposed to be well-mannered in public, but this guy just seemed a bit bored. Like he wanted to eat and go. My guess is that he and his companion were headed to the same play we were.
But I couldn’t resist the urge to take pictures of this guy. Does he act like this at home? I mean, is he polite and boring there too? And then the thought of his having a cigar at the end of the meal came to me. Would that loosen him up? So tell me, is this an animated guy or a staid guy? I mean for real. From what I could gather it’s anyone’s guess.
But there’s alway that public persona and the real guy. What would he do if he were at home? I’ll betcha he would take that damn napkin off his lap and shovel that food into his pie hole like it was his first meal in months. He’d have a cigar on a saucer that he would grab for now and then and take a puff, put it back and go back to eating like Kurt Russell in the “Hateful Eight.” Arrggg!!!
“Would you like dessert?” Uh? My eyes looked up. Our waiter came from nowhere. I wonder if he saw me gawking at this Larry David clone. We decided not to have any sweets and asked for the bill. My friend was still in his proper mode as he started serving himself the entrée.
Our check arrived and swiftly I took care of the damage. As we put our coats on, I wanted to somehow sneak in a closer shot of him and his companion, but I didn’t have the nerve. Too obvious. We walked right past them as if they were invisible. We were out the door in less than three minutes, and I’ll bet he continued doing whatever it is he thought he had to do. I flung my scarf over my shoulder, burped and headed for the theater lobby.