Yesterday I was in a coffee shop in Nominally Ordinary City, about 30 minutes East of here. There was a guy sitting at the table in front of me--blond, early 20s-ish, sort of a lite hippie vibe--working on a computer. His back was to me, so I could see his screen; he was working on a paper of some kind. Grad student, most likely (there was a big university nearby).
Then he switches over to the web and I glance up and see that he's on Blogger, editing a post. Hm, I think. I can't make out most of the text on the screen but I manage to get the last two words of his blog title. A little googling--the two words + "blogger"--leads me to a site that has to be his: same number of words in the title, tiny picture of a blond hippie-lite guy in the profile. And so there I am, reading the poem and little reflective essay that this perfect stranger has just posted to his blog.
The poem seems fine--"edgy," you might say--and the reflections smart, engaging a critical dialogue with which I'm not really familiar. (Grad student, I'm pretty sure, now.) I follow a link to the essay he's responding to, but lose interest before I actually read it. Back to work for me.
Was I being invasive? I mean, maybe, although I don't know this guy or anything about him really, and the blog is public and all. Riding subways in various cities I have sometimes imagined that I was a spy, trying to memorize names and phone numbers on slips of papers sticking out of backpacks and brief cases, figuring out as much as I could about the people around me before my stop. We let a lot show, a lot of the time. It is not at all inconceivable that someone in a coffeeshop somewhere has seen me writing and looked up my blog, reveling a little in her secret knowledge of me before clicking away, and getting back to work.