Reporters are notorious for listening in on the conversations of others and acting nonchalant. Being a longtime member of that odd club of low men and women, I've become an expert at eavesdropping, and that talent has come in handy.
Sometimes I go to the supermarket or the (god forbid) Walmart and wander the aisles, pretending to shop while I listen to the people who belong to each other. Young, old, gay, straight, comely, homely: I don't care who they are as long as they're a couple. I want to hear them talk to each other. I want to listen to the sounds of not being alone.
They often bicker and they're often bored, but even their strife sounds beautiful in my ears, even the "mm-hmms" and "uh-huhs" are glorious. It's the noise couples make.
It's easy to take for granted when you belong to someone. Conversations become commonplace, you get used to seeing the face and hearing the voice, pretty soon the person next to you on the sofa becomes someone you'd rather shut out. So I understand when I hear the couples of Walmart sniping at each other. Familiarity breeds contempt.
But I so want to sidle up to them and tell them not to take each other for granted. Yes, he's a pain in the ass and sure, she can be so annoying and oh God, of course there are times you want to just walk away, run away, flee in the other direction and never look back. But then you'd be alone. Even your friends can't save you from being alone. When the lights go out and my head hits the pillow I feel the cold seep inside me. That's when it's good to dream. In that world I am never alone, never a lonely boy.