I’ve never been in love before, but I know what it looks like.
This Saturday night I went to a bowling alley with my brothers and friends. We were there for nearly three hours, and in that time lots of people came and went.
As I was waiting for my turn to bowl, I inadvertently noticed a couple move into the lane next to mine. They must have been in a relatively new relationship; they still had that air of flustered, nervous excitement. They were probably somewhere in their thirties.
The first thing that caught my eye was her chevron striped, orange and red and dark green skirt that came to just above ankles adorned with bright pink socks peeking out of chunky bowling shoes. Somehow, though, the outfit wasn’t really what stood out. She had wispy blonde shoulder-length hair and thinly framed round glasses.
The second thing that caught my eye was her date. He was just a few inches taller than she was and he also had glasses. His didn’t have rims though, just two lenses that floated in front of his eyes. They complemented his square jaw and short-cropped brown hair.
Since they were right across from me, I got to observe the couple for quite awhile. I was captivated.
It wasn’t because they were stunningly handsome or eccentric, in fact they were just sort of plain, normal looking. They weren’t unattractive, but weren’t strikingly beautiful either. She was probably an Anne or Jane or a Cathy, and he might have been a Scott or maybe a Mark or something along those lines.
She first stood up to take her turn. She trotted up to the line and made a very uncoordinated attempt at throwing the bright orange ball, which almost immediately went into the gutter. She spun around on the balls of her feet, and shyly laughed at the unfortunate result of her inability. He watched her as she walked back to him and he was laughing too.
Plucking a ball from the rack, he began demonstrating how to properly throw it. And he didn’t put his arms around her in that uncomfortably corny way movies do. He just stood in front of her, swung his arm back and forth, explained his technique.
She tried again, extending her arm out in front of her and throwing the ball towards the pins. It slowly made its way down the lane and knocked over two or three pins on the outer right side.
“See!” he exclaimed with genuine pride. “That was already so much better!” They were both beaming. She scuttled back to their chairs, he rose to his feet, wrapped his arms around her and lightly kissed her forehead.
Over the course of the night I became very sure that they both enjoyed science and books, rainy weather and went to large public high schools where they maybe played in the marching band. As I pieced together these imaginary details I also realized some obvious truths in that they were completely enjoying each other’s company and they were completely happy.
As Scott or maybe Mark returned back to his chair he stopped midway to dance to the Britney Spears classic “Womanizer,” pointing his fingers in the air and bouncing from side to side. She threw her head back, laughed. This made me smile, too, because right then another thing became very clear to me: they were in love.
I don’t know if they knew it yet, but I definitely did.
I’ve seen lots of young couples out on dates before, but for some reason this was the first one that has made such an impact. Being able to see these two people who seemed to be so plainly normal and were out on a plainly normal date. But they were so, so happy. Bowling really isn’t a very exciting activity, but they were perfectly content just being with each other.
They probably could have been anywhere in the world and still showed that same subtle adoration. It didn’t matter that there were people all around them in that bowling alley because they were only looking at each other.
I think that’s all I really want.