People Watching and Aging

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.

And hone in on conversations… Oh what fun! People say the weirdest thifile00087055869ngs. Excuse me, but your stupidity is showing.

“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 DSC_0078today 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 iceskatermarriage 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.

runnerEver 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 barrelracerhadn’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?

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13 Responses to People Watching and Aging

  1. susanrhughes says:

    Most of the time I am too busy watching my children, keeping them out of trouble, to notice anyone else.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joan Reeves says:

    Count me in as a people watcher. Just love the human parade. (Tried to tweet this but got technical error. Guess Twitter is full tonight.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The tweet factor worked for me.
    Watching people is fascinating. I don’t think readers understand that we garner tidbits from life to put in our story. At least I do. Can’t help it as real life is stranger than fiction. We have a woman that comes into our local Wal-Mart with a helper. She needs a helper because her fingernails are longer than eighteen inches long. Gnarly, twisted, ugly extensions painted a dark red. I’ve heard she’s a Voodoo priestess. Look, I can’t make this stuff up! It’s true. There is no way she can do the daily functions of life with those gross daggers…at least that’s my take on it. Sure hope she doesn’t read this. LOL Wait! There’s no way she can use a keyboard. I’m safe!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • E. Ayers says:

      And there she is in your head and she will come out one day. Maybe the fingernails will be gone and maybe not… But she is there. Yes, life is much stranger than fiction. So we write life and removed the weird parts?


  4. Carol says:

    Because I write, I suppose, people watching comes naturally. I love it! While out shopping, I notice people watching me also. Ha! Another writer in the crowd? Possibly. Yes, people watching is fodder for our stories…for the planning stage. People watching gives us the green light to combine several individuals into some pretty interesting characters. Because Goldie Hawn and Sandra Bullock play humorous, clumsy, and loving characters, I love to reflect on their character roles and come up with a scene to add to my books. Not to copy them at all, but to redirect those character traits into my own rendition. By the time my female main character snowballs, she is her own witty, klutzy person. As for aging? Yes, there are occasions I tend to see more than I want while people watching. Interesting as certain incidents may be, some things I haven’t or wouldn’t use in a story. Never say never? Well, we can attempt to nip in the bud people actions that cause aversion to particular engagements that make us nuts, or go against our beliefs. I’m determined to be true to a character and their story.


    • E. Ayers says:

      You are so much kinder. I let those things that show hate come through in many of my stories, but they are out there and they are wrong, but they still exist.

      So when I see a reviewer comment about it, I know that I’ve made them think, made them aware. And with luck, they won’t tolerate it within their own life and they will teach their children not to be that way. For me, it is being true to my characters. But you write lighter stories, the ones that make us laugh because we’ve all bumbled something and can identify with that character.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carol says:

        You do write slices of life, and that’s a good thing. Our readers love to lose themselves in the story and identify and your stories allow them to reflect. Now, all of my stories aren’t humorous and light. I have some real doozies, just haven’t had time to complete and pub. Book two: A Smoky Mountain Wedding, Tina lets us inside her head a bit more as she deals with issues. Sometimes we laugh when we’d rather cry, or scream or whatever. However, I like a light read often to take my mind off daily challenges. I also love a novel full of deep seated issues that provides an emotional impact. Keep writing your wonderful stories!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. leighmorgan1 says:

    Great post, E. Harriet Anderson is truly an inspiration. Gotta move and challenge our brains daily to be vibrant. I love people watching too. The results often find their way into my stories. Some conversations though are so far out there no one would believe they were real :).


  6. leighmorgan1 says:



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