A Lesson in People Watching

Posted on July 7, 2013


Child with binoculars

Observe people like a child would – minus the binoculars!

Like the Dark Shadow, you may not detect me, but I’ll be watching you. It sounds a little creepy, but it’s certainly not new. People-watching has been around as long as Adam and Eve and it’s at the core of human curiosity. Throughout our entire lives we are “checking out the other guy”, probing them, and wondering about their lives.

I am not fixated or anything; I simply enjoy studying people. People watching is the precursor to story-telling and writing. Please don’t mistake me for a nosy so-and-so (well, maybe just a tad). It’s just that I can’t help but ponder what makes people tick, and like a naturalist I believe the best way to watch people is at a distance, undetected, going about their daily routines. I’m not a pervert, and no, I don’t use binoculars!

Usually, it’s my innermost circle of family and friends which are the targets of most of my attention. Like agents trying to hide secret papers, they’re pretty good about not divulging any information to me that might not be fabricated into something greater. For a wide range of subjects, though, you can’t beat any public gathering like a shopping mall, concert audience or stadium crowd. If you’re looking for fresh vegetables, you won’t find them in the canned goods aisle, understand?

Bird/people watching

Watch … and learn.

Next time you’re resting your laurels on one of the mall’s benches, take a moment to survey the interesting clientele frequenting specialty stores such as herbal cosmetics, lingerie and all-things-knives. Pretend you’re a bird watcher: Look! It’s a sandal-clad, sun-screen coated, bead-encrusted Earth Momma. Not a rare bird by any stroke, but difficult to spot until the temperature heats up enough to shed the socks and boots. The wild mane pulled back in a ponytail is the tipoff.  She’s checking out the sale on natural soaps and lotions. She’s not interested in so much nesting as preening – in an environmentally safe way of course.

Over near the lingerie boutique, a small group of smoky-eyed, crane-legged, navel-baring upstarts are eyeing the mannequin wearing a sexy bra set. Like crows, they’re a noisy bunch with their high-pitched giggles and purse-flapping. They’ve been drawn to the display with all the bright colors it seems. There’s certainly some interest being generated from the commotion. It must be the mating season, I’m guessing. They certainly seem to enjoy the attention they’re getting.

A little further away, there’s the all-knives-and-other-sharp-implements-of-aggression shop where there’s a couple of young fellows examining a display. Looks to me that like a pair of red-eyed, furry-faced, war-lord wannabees that have just landed after an all night raid on some Xbox fortress. They glance in the direction of the giggling lingerie cranes, but go back to examining the ornamental daggers in the window. I guess they’re not into nesting just yet.

Don’t get me started on the scrawny-legged, old buzzards with their icky comb-over crowns. Or those alarming ol’ saggy hens of denial that seem to believe miniskirts are perfectly fine, even in their sixties. Oh no, no, no.

So, let this be your warning: If you spot me at a concert or enjoying the air-conditioning of the mall, and I seem to be scanning the crowd, don’t assume I’m looking for a particular someone. I’m simply people watching and letting my mind do the wandering.

Posted in: Mid-Life Quirks