The last part of my run tonight took me up Quincy Street which has this stretch of gorgeous black iron gates, on the other side of which is Harvard Yard. A too-skinny-early-twentysomething woman emerged through one of the gates, and then this doleful-looking reedy guy stepped through the gate behind her, touched her arm, and she turned around and they fell into this hug that was both ridiculously sweet and inconsolably sad-about-something. It was one of those amazing spontaneous glimpses you get into a moment of high romance in the biographies of strangers, sort of like that one Doisneau photograph. Except, imagine taking that Doisneau photograph, and Photoshopping into it a dorky-looking guy whose doing this freaky weird quasi-gangsta-rapping motion thing with his arms as he's listening to his iPod shuffle and who, only due to good reflexes and deft footwork, manages not to plow into the young lovers' heartbreak hug.
Thing of it was, he was saying something to her as this was happening. And seriously, at the perihelion of my successful pirouette around them, my ear couldn't have been that much further from his mouth than hers was. And, you know what: I think he was saying something unintelligible. I don't mean that he was saying something and I couldn't understand what it was. I think he was really just mumbling something that seemed like words but weren't actually words. Yes! Honestly! I think he was trying to be all end-scene-of-Lost in Translation in what was plainly this hugely emotional moment for both of them.*
Even right outside the gates of Harvard, authentic romantic expression is relegated to the junior varsity when people get a chance to have what we have exalted to being the absolute most romantic thing: a scene from one's life that is just like a scene from a movie.
Or maybe I was just being surly because they knocked me out of my running groove. Who knows?
But as long as I'm being surly, you know what? That Doisneau photograph? If you don't know: It's fake. Those people are models. Doisneau staged it. Magical things like that do happen, every day, just not when there also magically happens to be a famous photographer there to capture the moment. Far more likely for there to be some jogging schlemiel who goes home and writes about it on his blog when he can't sleep.
* Not that this was the most romantic scene in that movie by any means. The most romantic scene in Lost in Translation is when they are lying on the bed and he touches her foot.