Yesterday I took a late night stroll through Fremont. It was just before midnight and the moon, so super earlier in the week, was faltering. I passed a sad, lonely feeling bar, the sort that emphasized its sad loneliness by shamelessly blaring music and flashing lights even though there were only three people inside.
In front of the bar stood a young couple, both looking wobbly. The girl was blond and sagging and had her nose glued to her phone. The guy was sporting an oversized Seahawks jersey and would have been unremarkable but for the thick Irish accent through which he was yelling at the girl, who occasionally glanced up toward him.
I caught them mid-argument, which is both a good and bad place to come across a couple. The man was obviously upset as well as drunk, but the argument appeared to be proceeding in an incredulous, point-making way, and there seemed to be no threat of violence. I slowed only to listen, not intervene.
The subject that had angered the man was the act of giving-up when confronted with a difficulty. That is, it appeared that the woman had failed to follow-through on something the man thought she should have stuck-with.
Coming in the middle of things as I did I can’t say if this is an ongoing issue for their relationship or a one-off concern. Perhaps when confronted with a challenge the young woman is the type who wouldn’t rise to meet it. Then again, given how angry the man was about the subject, it’s equally plausible the he himself is a renowned quitter and was relocating his self-loathing onto her. One can only theorize from the distance provided by one’s leather boots.
It also wasn’t clear what the specific situation that had angered the man was—perhaps he was referring to a serious, integral component of their relationship. Then again, maybe she’d made a foible during an otherwise friendly game of Scrabble. What was certain, however, and unmistakable even through his thick drunken brogue, was the following analogy employed by the man.
Would a bear quit? he demanded. Would a hungry bear out in the woods quit just because it was hard to catch food? Would it? Would a bear quit hunting for food when it got difficult
He stared at her angrily and awaited a response. She tapped at her phone and shrugged.
A bear would not quit! he asserted. It would not! It would not quit!
The girl looked at him flatly. Clearly she’d heard this line of reasoning, or something comparable, before. She nodded and returned to her phone.
A bear would not quit! he once again insisted and stomped his heel resolutely upon the sidewalk.
I left them there before the bar, half-lit by a streetlamp. Him smoking, she staring into the blue-gray screen of her phone. Uphill I walked in the direction of the zoo, and wondered about the resolve of the bears therein.