Monday, 6 February 2012

Man on a Bench: A Roman Anecdote

i) The littlest things can drastically alter a person’s mood. ii) For example, seeing a squirrel scurry across the road and shimmy up a tree. That would improve one’s mood. Seeing a squirrel flattened by an HGV hauler—that wouldn’t improve one’s mood. iii) But I knew this man. iv) He sat on benches all day long. Sometimes he’d feed the ducks, sometimes he’d sit and observe passersby. v) I spotted him on various benches across Edinburgh. He sat with a neutral expression. Looking. Most people, as people do, dismissed him as a creepy loner. vi) People are so very empathetic. vii) But I loved this man. viii) He was a modern day Underground Man. He sat on the sidelines of life, observing. Cold and detached. All day long. On benches. A visible nonentity, the bland face of self-erasure. ix) Chances are he had a family, or a cat. But when he sat on those benches, on his lonesome, the serenity oozed from this man. x) I took comfort in the fact that a person can be happy without people. That people are useful, and necessary, but essentially undesirable. xi) So whenever I spotted him around town, sitting blankly on his bench, my mood skyrocketed. xii) How brilliant to be alone, in the throb of a city, and to be content! xiii) I haven’t seen him in a long time. Hopefully he hasn’t committed suicide.


  1. I like people like this, too--who sit and observe. There is a park bench I pass that has a couple of this sort of regulars, though the regulars I like best are a pair of older ladies, one of them I suspect quite demented, but she is SO HAPPY. It always cheers me to see her. I hope I remain happy when I lose my mind.

  2. She sounds great. I should introduce her to my guy.