“What exactly do you think is gonna happen?” I spoke to the two of them. The confrontation had come up quick, like a tropical storm off the coast of my beloved Cocoa Beach. The man was tall, blonde, and had a kind of quiet, dumbfounded expression he wore like an old hat. It fit him nicely. She, as always, was beautiful; her long, chestnut brown hair hung over her shoulders and her gaze was on me. She looked up at me like a puppy who had just been scolded, and it broke my heart. I never wanted this.
“Look, Tom…” I began, with my signature mixture of confidence and reassurance lacing my every word. “If y’all can’t handle this situation, are you really ready to be thinkin’ about marriage?” I asked sincerely. The fact was they weren’t. They were two high school sweethearts turned college lovers who had never dared to venture out beyond their comfort zones. She was stunning, and he knew damn well what he had. And he was like sweater she’d had for years; cozy, safe.
Neither one of them spoke up during my pause, and so I took my opportunity. Being able to read situations is key, and typically when people are frozen in silence it’s what was said that put them there. The truth has that effect on some people. Some others, however, just erupt in anger. I was glad that neither of them was the latter.
“So you’ve been together for damn near ten years…see, that ain’t exactly reason to be runnin’ off and gettin’ married”. I sighed, “If y’all two can’t even handle a little spat like this, a disagreement about me…what makes you think anything is gonna change down the road?”. I looked at them with a questioning stare. I wanted a response, because truth be told Sheila was my friend. Tom wasn’t able to see it, however. He was constantly threatened by me, and for what reason that was I was oblivious to. I never overstepped when it came to her. I knew she loved Tom, although I quietly always suspected she only stayed with him because it was easier. That aside, I was always willing to be a steadfast and true friend to this girl. I was that way since the day I met her back in college, and I didn’t suspect that would change any time soon.
“Look, I ain’t stepped over the line not once with Sheila. I’m always respectful of the fact that she’s got a boyfriend, and that y’all are thinkin’ about gettin’ married. But hell, boy, how in the world you think the rest of your life is gonna play out?” He looked down and then to the side. He was a child. He didn’t want to hear the truth, let alone think about it or face it.
Sheila stood there in silence as well. She looked at Tom every so often, then back to me. The floor at this point, however, was attracting most of her attention. “Tom,” I continued, “you two want different things. You love goin’ out and gettin’ rowdy with your buddies every night. And, hell, who’d blame you? You’re a guy…that comes with the territory. But! You’re just not willin’ to sit at home with Sheila. You know how I know? Her and I usually text each other while you’re out!” I then turned my attention to Sheila, “And you! You don’t want kids! You want a successful life, fancy clothes, and exotic vacations. All that sounds wonderful, but Tom here wants kids and a simple life.” I paused to let my words sink in. This was all part of getting my point across, same way you might win an argument in your high school debate class. It’s not only about what you say, it’s the delivery. Delivery adds weight to your words. Weight makes the words stick.
“Figure in a few years, Tom’ll still be running around with his buddies and you’ll be pregnant, Sheila. OR…” I stopped, throwing a finger up into the air, absent-mindedly, for added effect. “Tom, you’ll be stuck on some cruise, held up in your room sippin’ on tea and watchin’ the view just to please Sheila”. They looked at each other for a moment; not both at the same time, but one after the other. The way you might have looked at someone you liked in 5th grade.
I shook my head a few times, “You’ll recent each other”. It’s tough, talking to couples like this. Because, sometimes, it just doesn’t matter how much you love someone. Love doesn’t make two people right for each other. “Y’all want different things. And if you’re goin’ into this thing with the notion that you’re gonna change a person…well, that’s a long wait on a train that ain’t ever comin’” I chucked seriously. Not because the situation was funny, but because the idea of changing someone was idiotic. “Folks, people don’t change in a relationship…they just pretend” I look at Sheila, and then back to Tom, “and you can’t go on pretendin’ forever”.