Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Little People Watching

By William H. White, Jr.

People are odd creatures. Coming from a odd creature that is saying a lot. I am constantly amused at the actions of people who would consider themselves to be “ normal” human beings. I understand that we all have our own idiosyncrasies and oddities, but lets face it some folks are just way out there. I love to go to the mall, gas station, park, or anywhere else people are gathered and watch them. I love laundry mats. Aside from leaving with clean clothes I get to watch people stripped bare and in the raw. Lets face it no one can be very pretentious while folding their underwear in public. Libraries aren’t too bad, but when you can’t talk above a whisper you really can’t be yourself.
Some people are very private and it shows in their actions and their dress. Others have no inhibitions whatsoever and their actions and clothes yell it at the top of their lungs. It is always interesting to see these two personalities come together. There at some public place will be a woman dressed from her chin to her toes, her arms close by her side, her face turned down, and her voice very low - standing in line next to a teenage girl who is wearing about the same amount of material that is used in most handkerchiefs, flailing her arms around, and talking on her cell phone loud enough that deaf people are complaining about the noise. Yet to themselves their behavior is perfectly normal and the other person is odd.
Some folks want nothing more than to make a statement. They have enough metal hanging out of their face to make it dangerous for them to get near moving objects, while others wear no jewelry at all. Both make a statement about themselves. One may be a statement of rebellion and self will, while the other may be a statement of religious faith and dedication.
The thing I love to watch the most is a couple. You can sit and watch a couple and tell what their feelings are toward one another. Recently, while I was stopped at a red light, I noticed in the car next to me a young couple. The man was in the passenger’s seat. He wore dark sunglasses, had no expression on his face, and only turned his head to the right or looked straight ahead. The woman, who was driving, had her arms crossed, and spent the entire time that I observed them looking out the driver’s side window. No words were spoken by either, but yet by their body language I could tell that some very heated words had been spoken a short time earlier. I can’t imagine that the rest of the ride was very pleasant for either unless someone issued an apology. I was glad I was only next to them and not riding with them.
On the flip side of the coin, I was driving down the highway no too long ago and an elderly couple passed me in a small car. Again the woman was driving and the man was in the passenger’s seat. This time, however, the couple had the sweetest smile on their faces and was holding hands. I only saw them for a brief second, but it made me wish I could have a relationship like theirs. I have already had one of the “stare out the opposite side of the car” relationships.
I enjoy watching young lovers stand and talk. They lean towards each other. They hold each other’s gaze intently. They hang on every word. They would stand in the rain for hours just to look at each other. After a couple has been together for a while they tend to take each others presence for granted. They hardly speak at all let alone savor every word.
The world is full of interesting things to see. All you have to do is look.

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