Monday, May 6, 2013

The Watcher

She was a futzer.  See, I had categorized all people waiting for someone in a coffee shop some time ago, so I could tell at first glance that she was a futzer.  The crumpled sugar packets. The single-serve cream cups stacked inside of each other, the needless napkin folding.   For some people it’s that not having something to do with their hands makes them crazy.  For others they just can’t stand the idea of waiting.  Whatever the source of the compulsion they always keep themselves busy somehow.  

The readers avoid this by bringing a book with them.  That way, no matter how long it takes the person to show up, they’re covered.  The readers, by the way, are not the people that come to the coffee shop to read- they’re a whole other breed.  No, readers are waiting for people too, they just have a better cover.

Cell phone addicts are a type of reader.  Usually a younger breed.  They don’t plan ahead by bringing a book but since their cell is always on them they always have a cover.  Whether it’s texting (arguably the most useless activity of all), checking e-mails or playing idiotic games they keep their eyes glued to the screen so they don’t have to make eye contact with anybody.  They barely even look at their drink when they sip.  It’s just an occasional glance up here and again to see if whoever they’re waiting on came through the door.

But this woman, she was definitely a futzer.  Futzers tend to have a lot more nervous energy than the other breeds.  It’s not just the ripping and folding of the sugar packets or the adjustments they make to their clothes- like this woman, adjusting her skirt every single time she shifts in her seat.  Like it needs it.  Futzer’s tend to sit bolt upright- as if waiting to jump up from their seats any second.  As if being in the coffee shop itself is a source of anxiety and they’re just itching to get out of there.  Makes you wonder why the hell they agreed to meet in a coffee shop.  

It’s because of this that they can never really figure out how to sit.  Can’t cross your legs, then you’d have to uncross them before you could stand.  Can’t lounge cause then you’d look stupid bolting upright when you spotted your companion.  So futzers constantly shift in their seats, like fussy shoppers trying on shoes.  Thus the reason for all the clothing adjustments.

If they have jewelry they might play with it, too.  Or sometimes buttons.  Some people pull on the frayed threads of their jeans.  This woman was a hair twirler- her hair weaving in and out of her fingers as she sat in her anxiety.  I once knew a girl who’d stick her hair in her mouth.  Not to chew it or anything, just to blow it out again.  I always thought it was kinda gross.

Why is she so anxious?  Must be something damned important for her to be so unable to just sit and wait.  That’s what I used to think.  But nine times out of ten I saw someone come in to the waiting futzer only to sit down and start chatting opinions on recent movie releases or other inane chit-chat.  You’d think there’d be something more worth all the fuss.

But that’s just the nature of futzers- they futz.  Maybe they’re anxious about how they look.  Like they got a movie of themselves playing in their minds and they want to keep busy so they don’t look stupid.  Which is ridiculous, of course, because no one’s watching them.

Well, aside from me.   But then again, that’s my breed.  I’m a watcher.


  1. What a great word and it seems to fit your description of your character. I think I'm more of a watcher myself as well.

  2. I loved that closing line. What was the exercise?

    1. From Brian Kiteley's The 3am Epiphany, POV excercise 1: The Reluctant in which you write a first person story using the first person pronoun only twice (clearly I cheated, but you get the general idea).

  3. It would be fun to know what the futzer's fuss was really about. Perhaps it's a blind date, or an internet dating thing. Or maybe just hanging out makes her that nervous? I do hope she's drinking decaf.

  4. lol, you're definitely a watcher ;)
    I oscillate between all of them except cell phone addict.

  5. Why was she so anxious? Hmmm...I myself might belong to that category. I feel so awkward when I am in a new place all alone :P

  6. Very cool. I think I used to be a futzer. Now I like to watch people. Can people evolve from one breed to another?

  7. Very interesting story, Beverly. I'd rather be a watcher, too.

  8. Not a futzer, but not all that comfortable in a crowd. I like to sit where I can watch and not be watched too easily.

    Thank you for your kind words, we are all healing and mending and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!

  9. I love your descriptions! I've tried a number of his exercises with my writing group and posted a few on my blog. I think this one is clearly successful (at least as a piece of writing).


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