All through the day, I wondered about the details of the task that had been set out for me. Do I set aside a specific time for the three hours? Is it just the ones I notice, or do I have to make a special effort to look at everyone in sight?

I knew Kevin wouldn’t be picky, in fact, he’d be interested in how I processed the instructions as much as he would be intrigued by the results.

In the morning on the bus, I forgot about my task until I saw someone wearing red and black together. But then I decided that I didn’t want to start the clock on first noticing. I wanted to start a timer and then notice.

At work I spent most of the day in a basement with, at most, four or five other people. Not a good test. I did make a run outside to take our work van in for a quick service, but there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for people-watching while I drove back and forth. So that was out.

I did go out for lunch – but that’s only one hour, at most. Not enough time. Wait – maybe Kevin meant three hours total, not three consecutive hours? But that seemed too much of a reach.

Slowly the day drained away. And that evening I was planning on spending with Kevin, the man who had set the task out for me. It seemed almost unfair to perform the task while trying to enjoy the evening with my friend.

And on the other hand, it was perfect.

So he picked me up shortly after 4:00 PM, and I told him that I had not yet done the red-and-black-observing. I told him it would start at 5:00 PM and run until 8:00 PM.

At dinner, I had to keep interrupting my story to make a notation on my iPhone (the only thing I had handy to make notes on, lacking a pen and paper – no way could I keep track of the totals for red-wearers, black-wearers and both-red-and-black-wearers for three whole hours), which caused Kevin to smile, every time.

He manfully tried to not direct my attention, although he slipped once or twice. But he was a good sport about it. And it caused many light moments.

At one point, as we were walking through a park, we were approached by a woman walking three dogs. In the fading daylight, I tried to determine if she had red or black on, or both, and I was surprised when she looked our direction, appeared to look at me, and smile and said “Hi!” as if she knew me. Um, actually, she knew Kevin, had once worked with him, and they stopped to exchange pleasantries while I secretly put her down in the “both” category.

And, damn, navy blue is hard to tell from black at a distance. Just sayin’.

In the end, the final tallies are:

Red: 4
Black: 20
Both: 10

Kevin, what does a coffee table say?