There's an older man that comes to the same coffee shop I frequent almost every day. He wears, every time, the same variation of: jeans, a shirt, and always a green vest - the kind of vest you would see on an outdoor thicker. His glasses are thickly framed and dark. They are round. Along with his attire, he also carries a cross-body computer bag. And with him there is always a book.
He must read quickly or frequently, for he is almost always reading something new. I am curious as to what he is reading, but never am I able to catch a glimpse of the novels' titles. The books come in various sizes and covers. He gives out the aura of a professor or a quintessential image of an "intellectual". I like to imagine what kind of person he is. This is, in fact, a hobby I've taken up throughout the years. The more I observe people - a byproduct of my introversion - the more I try to imagine the kind of humans they are in their everyday. Who are the people walking past you on the train? What are their jobs and who do they love? Everyone has a story. Some people's stories are sadder than others. I don't know any of the people I see on the commute to and from home. But through observation I begin to piece fragments of who I think they are - or who I wish they were. The likelihood of them being completely different is extremely high.
But the man with the green vest and round glasses intrigues me - as most elder individuals do. I have tried, quite effortlessly if I'm honest, to give him a story. It's a simple and cliché story, but this is what I've come up with thus far:
He is a literature professor. Of course. It would account for the magnitude of his reading. He reads for the courses he teaches, as well as for pleasure. Frankly, the two meld into each other, for he gives his students to read the very books he's always loved. It is inevitable that all professors allow their biases and preferences to seep into their courses. His students love and respect him. But he is stern and demanding. He reads so many great novels that he has come to demand of his students the same greatness. This often leads to unmet expectations and disillusioned potential authors. He wishes he'd written the greatest American novel. He chose to teach instead. Most days he has no regrets on the path he has taken. This stranger has a cat for a pet, and reads while the cat lays on his lap purring. Should he be divorced? I can't recall seeing a wedding band. But intellectuals are known to live in free union. It's possible his lifelong partner is an eclectic artist. I haven't come to a conclusion on this part of his story just yet. I will keep you posted. Should I ever get the courage to speak with him, I may find his true story - the story he has created for himself.