Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a people watcher. I try not to stare, but I see people. I notice things that probably the rest of the world doesn’t see. I see what they are wearing, how they wear their hair, and how they act. Watching people is fun. It doesn’t take much to see which couple is comfortable with each other, or who could care less if they were together or not. I love watching the lovebirds. They look at each other longing for more. Do they realize how silly they look when they are draped across the table to hold hands?
Our local coffee shop seems to be the place to meet for a date. You can tell who is interested and who is not just by the body language. Who is leaning forward and hanging on every single word as though it was the most profound thing they’ve ever heard. And who can’t sit back far enough, praying the babysitter will call with an emergency that will send them rushing home.
“What? We had a Civil War? When?”
“What’s that island in the Atlantic? Greece?”
“That tornado thingy with all the rain.”
The other night I was at a local soup, salad, and sandwich place. A family sat near me with a teenaged daughter, a pretty thing with long dark hair. They were rather quiet and busy eating. I notice things such as when the adults don’t talk to each other and I wonder why. Do they not have anything to say? Have their lives drifted that far apart? Or maybe they’d rather slice the other’s neck then have a conversation? The teen picked up her sandwich and took a bite. I didn’t hear her but I could tell exactly what she said. Oh gross! The sandwich hit the plate. Her napkin went to her mouth. She stood and disposed of her plate. No one asked what was wrong. No one offered to buy her something else.
Actually I’m noticing a divide in young people. And it’s most noticeable in young women. There are those who are dressed conservatively. They wear only a small amount of makeup, lack tattoos, and a gazillion piercings. They tend to appear more polished and confident.
On the other side of the line… or rather in the grocery store, there was a young woman. Her short brown hair had been over processed and bleached to the point it frizzed. She had it pulled into two pigtails behind but higher than her ears and what was contained in that bushy mess had been dyed on the ends a vibrant pink. It was strangely warm today, enough to get by with flip-flops and shorts…but daisy dukes? At 200 pounds, daisy dukes are not becoming. The front of both thighs were tattooed, both calves were tattooed. Her neck was tattooed, along with her arms, one ankle, and both insteps, and the piercings were numerous. Did she think that was attractive? She must!
I can’t imagine someone waking up and saying lets see how ridiculous I can make myself today and then go in public. Expressing themselves? You’re twenty. That tattoo will still be there when you’re in a nursing home. Kenny’s name will still be on your arm when you die and that parrot isn’t going to look much like a parrot in sixty more years.
I had a family member who had served in the Navy and spent quite a bit of time in Hawaii. He came home with both forearms tattooed in what to me, as a child, was Navy symbols with anchors, etc. But on an upper arm he had a hula gal. Apparently at one time, he could flex his muscles and make her hips wiggle. According to my aunt when she met him that hula gal only wore a grass skirt. She made him put a top on her. What I saw on an old man was darn ugly and she no longer “danced”. Even the anchors looked a little out of shape.
Tonight I went with a friend to another friend’s house. I’d met the couple before but I had never been in their home. Absolutely beautiful home and totally drool worthy. It’s a second marriage for both of them. I wouldn’t say they are wealthy, but they are quite comfortable. I know approximately how old he is and he looks quite a bit younger – as in twenty years younger. He’s probably the most “fit” older man I’ve ever met. She’s zoftic – not fat, just pleasingly rounded. Yet wife #1 is slim and trim. Was wife #2 always that way? Maybe he likes women with a little meat on their bones.
Ever notice that men with muscles tend to have large veins in their arms. I notice that stuff. And even though this man doesn’t look like a body builder, he has those veins. He’s probably capable of arm wrestling a twenty year old and winning. With a full head of silver hair, he’s still quite handsome. Oh, and not a single gray hair on his arms. I noticed that, too.
We left there and went to the little nearby town where I had once lived to try a new restaurant. The place wasn’t crowded and as I was being seated, I excused myself to say hi to a couple I’d not seen in a few years. The husband was probably the same age as the man I had just seen. Except he looked ten years older than he was. Almost bald, he looked shrunken and old. Whatever happened to that big strapping man I’d once known?
I came back to our table and glanced again at the gray-haired couple at the table beside us. I hadn’t recognized them until that moment. Her salt and pepper hair that was always kept in a perfect bob, now was pure white and hung well past her shoulders. He must have gained fifty pounds. They both looked much older than the last time I saw them. Have I aged that much, too?
The truth is we’re getting older. Maybe it’s in our genes, but I think lifestyle has to play a big part in it. (I need to get out from behind this computer more often and hit the treadmill!) I don’t want to get old, but I know I will. I can’t stop the clock from ticking, but I’d like to think I’ll age gracefully. When the day comes that I turn seventy, I want someone to say I look ten or fifteen years younger.
And our waitress in that new restaurant… The first thing I noticed was her arms. She was a pretty thing with a warm chocolate complexion and big whiskey brown eyes but her arms… No, they were not scarred, or unevenly pigmented as I first thought when I saw them, they were tattooed to look like leopard spots. Why did she do that?
I have no resolutions for 2015, although I have a few responsibilities and commitments that I must meet. But I do know that I will continue to people watch. It’s great fodder for books and feeds that curious side of me that has always existed. In a split second, I can collect a ton of information about someone. Like a mental snapshot, images are stored in my brain’s album. And when I start to write, a have this great resource for creating characters, emotions, settings, and expressions.
Who else is a people watcher? What do you notice?