Life Plays Out In A Lonely Act

Apr 10, 2018

Oddly, it was the color gray I noticed most. Despite the fact that he was using a small, yellow duffel bag as a pillow, it was the color gray that caught my attention.

Gray-grimed jeans, gray sweatshirt, gray cap, and gray blanket. I wondered if, perhaps, he had been working at a construction site and been covered in the grayness of concrete dust.

We were waiting for an elevator in a Chicago parking garage, having just taken our two 8-year-old granddaughters to their first ballet, when he walked in. A dozen or so other theater-goers waited with us on this chilly winter’s night, and we all watched discretely as he went to a corner by the pay machine and proceeded to lie down and make a bed for the night. Although he did not appear drunk or drugged, clearly he had been here before. He knew this spot, and he was tired.

Because we were closest to him, we couldn’t help but stare as he fluffed up his duffel bag, spread out his blanket, adjusted its folds, curled around until he found a comfortable position, and then closed his eyes and lay still, never once having looked at his audience.

The theater crowd had been talking gaily until his arrival, and then a hush descended. We did not know what he was doing at first, so we kept a watchful eye, trying to act as natural as possible so as not to frighten the children.

Mesmerized, our granddaughters watched the drama unfolding in front of them with worried eyes.

“Why is he sleeping there?” they stage-whispered.

Silently we shook our heads. So many gray areas to ponder. We had no answers.

The elevator bell finally rang, and we all pushed in eager to leave.

A drama played out in one act. Live theatre at its saddest.

I’m Marnie Mamminga, and that’s my perspective.