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Window on the world (2)

You can surmise a lot about the state of peoples' relationships watching them interact on vacation.

I've seen umpteen couples sitting on benches in the Inner Harbour, or walking down the Causeway, separated by a foot or more, staring straight ahead not speaking to each other nor touching. The frisson between them is palpable, the separation a gulf that won't be bridged by a Victoria vacation. If one stops to ask me about my tours and rates, the other will likely stand back, arms crossed over the chest, irritated and impatient. They walk on and I am relieved they don't get in my cab- they never do.

Some have outward appearance of happiness but a crack will reveal the undercurrent of tension or life-long patterns of dominance and submission. One day a handsome, well-dressed 60-ish couple stops outside the Empress, right in front of my cab. She is taking a picture  of him with their digital camera. I offer to snap a shot of the two of them together. They both smile at me.

"Oh, thank you. How nice," she says and hands me the camera. They stand back, put their arms around each other, pose and grin. I take the shot and then view the image in the digital screen. It looks a bit dark.

"Did I get it? I ask.

The husband takes the camera, presses a few buttons. Black scowl. Lips purse. He then erupts at her.

"Goddammit, how many times do I have to tell you!? Don't put it on that setting! Are you stupid?

"I thought I had it right," she almost whispers, head bowed. 

"One more time and I won't let you use it. Do you understand? Do you?" He mutters and scolds her in a condescending tone as he fiddles with the buttons. She keeps her head down.

Then he hands the camera back to me with a friendly smile as if nothing untoward has occurred. "Can you try again please?"   The 180 degree turn is bizarre -- friendly to me, contempt for her.

The two stand back, put their arms around each other and smile. I take the shot. The picture in the screen looks like a long-married couple happily on vacation. "Thanks" they say and walk on. I know from this tiny snapshot this pattern of communication is the norm for them.

Truly happy people togther - families, lovers, friends - radiate their pleasure in each other's company like heat from a stove. You can't help smiling when you see them  Two beaming Newfoundland sisters , so happy at being reunited after a a year apart, warmed up one of my earliest rides and started turning my pedicab experience around, from humiliation to fun. I love it when happy couples ascend into my cab. Their joy is contagious.

Sometimes, if the couple is a man and a woman, I assume them to be lovers. One early evening I spy a couple walking with smiles, engaged in happy heartfelt conversation down the causeway.  She is no doubt older than the man, but I cannot discern the age gap - 10 years? 12? They smile at me.

"A romantic ride for two in my pedicab?" I pose.

"He's my SON!" she says aghast. We all laugh.

But it is a compliment ,  both for her youthful look and their happy countenance. He puts his arm around her and kisses her cheek pretending to be romantic and they laugh all the way down the Causeway. My slip has made their day.

Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2007 at 04:24PM by Registered CommenterAnne | Comments4 Comments

Reader Comments (4)

I love your stories. And hope to be one of the happy ones, one day.
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