They were in a circle chatting on the edge of the Harvard campus: a petite undergrad, her boyfriend, and her middle-aged alumni parents. The parents had only recently arrived from Connecticut to meet this young man their daughter had been seeing for the past eight months. So the conversation, as these things go, was tenuous and stilted.
As the group began slowly making its way up Mass Ave, the men walked ahead of the women for a private conversation. Passing by Au Bon Pain, the young man began talking incessantly into the father’s ear. He moved in close so the men were now touching at the shoulders and elbows.
From where the women were standing it must have looked like they were getting along swimmingly. Growing to be fast friends. What they did not know, what they could not know, was that the older man was quietly judging his companion, and had been since the moment he laid eyes on him.
The young man was an FIF (First in Family to attend Harvard), and during the entire drive up to Cambridge, the girl’s father had promised himself he wouldn’t hold that against him. After all, he himself had once been a FIF courting a legacy. But a lifetime of Harvard Club banquets and receptions had turned him into an incorrigible snob — so much so that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d even conversed with someone who wasn’t a legacy, let alone someone who hadn’t attended Harvard. Well, not willingly, anyway.
And the truth was that he found this kid’s behavior off-putting. The way he was leaning into him as though they were peers. Had the young man no regard for personal space? he wondered. And that breath of his that was now assaulting his nose. Positively rancid, it was! How could his daughter stand this bad-breathed, close-walking chatterbox? He vowed that he would try to talk some sense into her as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
The four regrouped in front of the Curious George store, near where their car was parked. A few moments later, they all piled in, heading toward what the coed’s father imagined would be an excruciating dinner.
Sightings is a revived series of mini fictions based on real-life street observations.