Sometimes I see an attractive man at the coffee shop. He is tall. He has broad shoulders. He dressed himself in the morning and made sure that his clothes go together. He has combed his hair and considered how his glasses would look with his chin. They look good.
The man wears a watch.
It is a small thing. It only takes up a couple of square inches around the left wrist area. It is made of geometric shapes, like rectangles and circles. It has all-natural ingredients.
It is useful. It tells its wearer what time it is. Sometimes it has other information, like what time it is elsewhere. There are even other things that it can do.
The man’s hair has a product in it, or at least one.
I see this man and I think I could love him. I could definitely love that chin. Then I see his watch. I don’t know about the watch. The watch is a studied accessory. It means purpose. It means serious. It means advertisements in magazines about what it means to be a man. I don’t know if I could love the watch.
The man sees me. He sees that my hair is pulled back. There is no product in it. I’m not wearing makeup. The only thing that guided my outfit choice was making sure I didn’t wear this shirt yesterday, unless I’m wearing all black, in which case I just wore all black.
He sees that I’m wearing tennis shoes, that my face is not the face of a beauty queen but maybe of someone you find attractive after knowing them for a long time, that I have a wrinkle growing on the left side of my mouth.
He thinks maybe he could love me. His watch is not certain. His watch sees lack of attention to detail, a willful ignorance of social norms and expectations, opportunities that have been missed. It sees escapism, artistic ambitions, monologues about obscure feelings. It sees advertisements on what it means to be an iconoclast.
There are other kinds of men too. There are men who don’t wear watches, men who wear hats, men who shine their shoes, men who refuse to buy clothing, men who cut their own hair, men who shave their legs just for fun.
The little things do matter. They’ve always mattered. The little things indicate big things. In that way, they are the big things.
In a different world, the man with the watch and I make eye contact and smile about something we both understand. We start a conversation and find we are more similar than we could have ever imagined. Our children have strong chins and their mother’s upturned nose.
In this world, we make eye contact and pretend it never happened. He looks down at his watch. I look at my computer screen. He sees that it is 7:40 p.m. in Paris. I see that I have no new emails. Life goes on.