Cellophane, Mr Cellophane shoulda been my name
Mr Cellophane ’cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me and never know I’m there
Chicago – Mr. Cellophane Lyrics | John Kander
Why? Well, the notion started with something Sheila Hancock wrote about in her book ‘The Two of Us’ about women of a certain age becoming invisible and it occurred to me that it is true. And surprisingly liberating, especially when, like me, you enjoy the gentle pastime of people watching.
Take the couple who meet in our local cafe, for instance. I have called them Edward and Mrs Simpson. They are perfect subjects for people watching. He, Edward and she, Mrs (for I am sure she is married) Simpson, meet there every weekday morning. When we (my love, to whom I happen to have been married for 30 years, and I) habitually arrive around 08.00am for a coffee and croissant, he is already there, in the same seat by the side window, empty espresso cup on the small round table in front of him. He studiously reads his iReader, glancing at the door now and then in barely concealed anticipation. I am not sure whether he’s dressed for the office or the golf course. In any event he’s smart, silver hair, sparkling glasses, chinos, crisply ironed shirt, loafers, blazer and very handsome. She arrives at around 08.30, petite and slim with casually styled short blonde hair, dressed down but undeniably expensive and chic. They exchange a brief kiss and he immediately closes and puts his iReader down. She goes to the counter to collect her coffee. She doesn’t pay, obviously he’s already ordered her coffee. They sit and chat, intimately I’d say, for about 20 minutes and leave together. Another brief kiss and he gets into his Mercedes salon car while she slips into her Mercedes B Class and off they go.
So, is it an affair? Are they lovers? Are they married to other people and stealing a few precious minutes before going to their separate lives?
I admit that we have been observing them for quite a while, so there have been ups and downs, twists and turns. One day Mrs Simpson left in tears, with a sad little wave. “Oh no”, I thought, maybe it’s all over? But no, they were back the next day with all as usual. Another time, and this is really odd, Edward was in his usual spot but with a young lady in jogging gear. His daughter? Surely Mrs Simpson wouldn’t show up. But she did and kissed them both hello! Then, when they left, the young lady got into Mrs Simpson’s car and drove away with her! The plot thickens. But that’s not all… last week, in the early evening sunshine, we were sitting outside our usual watering hole (which I shall henceforth call the Wheatsheaf as it may crop up now and again) and they appeared. Together! Hand in hand. They cozied up in a corner over a glass of white wine and left again after only about half an hour. Intriguing. So it could be a simple courtship. Maybe they are planning their wedding (second for both of them, families happily integrated) or it is an affair and they take the opportunity to meet when they can in the evenings, not just over early morning coffee. I’ll keep you posted.