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Body language


I had dinner at the Surfrider Resort. It’s a nice outdoor dining experience, with the Pacific Ocean lapping at the beach only 20 meters away. A pair of Hawaiian natives sang and played ukeleles. They were very good. The food was delicious and arrived quickly as darkness fell like a stage curtain.

I watched a 30-something tourist couple on the beach. They were dressed casually, he in shorts and a button-down shirt with the shirttails hanging out, and she in an ankle-length halter dress. Both were barefoot.

He was speaking earnestly to her, with his hands on her shoulders, then stroking her hair, then back on her shoulders. She stood with her hands at her sides, unresponsive. Clearly he was saying something she didn’t want to hear.

The conversation was mostly one-sided, with him talking and her listening. She became more obviously unhappy, folding and unfolding her arms, and at one point, making chopping motions with her hands as she spoke.

Eventually they stopped talking and hugged. She clung to him, while he patted her back. Then they turned and walked up the beach past me. She walked as though a heavy weight was on her shoulders. He seemed to be unburdened, in an equal-but-opposite way. Perhaps he had told her he was leaving her, or taking a job in another state, or engaging in some similarly relationship-ending action. I felt badly for her. Whatever the question was, she felt that she’d gotten the wrong answer.

Perhaps later she may see that it was the right answer after all.

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