Monday, January 01, 2007

Watch People, Watch...

I can’t think of a better way to get a handle on people than to just sit and watch.

It’s probably as addicting as coffee, cigarettes or making stupid, sarcastic one-liner jokes around friends. When you people watch, you get to witness a large repertoire of human characteristics and dysfunctions with the added benefit of not feeling guilty for paying copious amounts of hard-earned cash. That, and it doesn’t involve damaging anyone's fragile self-esteem which, as we all know these days, is one of the biggest problems when finding suitable means of self-entertainment.

Granted, people watching for me DOES NOT consist of sneaking up to windows at night and filming the poor, unsuspecting occupants therein. In which case I am sure the topics for discussion would increase both in number and in controversy, probably resulting in a much shorter essay -- in jail ones computer time is strictly limited. Or so I hear. No, my people watching is more like bird watching but not as holistic and not involving birds. Follow these simple steps and you, too, are on your way to fun.

Find a nice, open, public place where folks congregate or pass through in large numbers. It is important to avoid staring and following, as this draws unnecessary attention from the local law enforcement agencies who don't share your amateur interest and is generally thought of as strange. Simply observe the passers by and enjoy the free show that will inevitably ensue.

When we observe people in their native habitat a fascinating thing happens: an overwhelming feeling of normalcy within yourself after witnessing such a large amount of strangeness. When you people watch you hear conversations about things you never thought it would be possible to hear a conversation about.

An old man at the airport points at something in the distance, nudging Edith, his wife of 56 years.
"Edith, there's one right now."
"What? What are you looking at?" She scans the area blindly as though the lights just went out.
"That, there. Remember? We were talking about those."
"I don’t know what you're pointing at." Frustrated, her shoulders hunch and her arms wave madly.
Pointing becomes more vigorous, his brow creases. "That-- there! You can’t see anything, can you?"
"Well, not when you talk to me like that, I cant."
"Well, Jesus, never mind, its gone anyway."
"Good, I guess I don’t have to listen to you insult me anymore."

We can see from this example just what kind of entertainment people watching can bring. You actually find yourself becoming engaged for miniscule amounts of time while people fumble through small slices of life right in front of you.

A more advanced form of people watching involves having someone you know drive you around and actually people watch other drivers. Its as if they don't realize people can see them through their windows!! You will be shocked and awed as the most hilarious and disgusting displays take place in broad daylight behind the safety of their auto-glass, for the world to see.

I find it hard to believe that reality TV is gripping the general populous when there is reality all around us, and hundreds of times more interesting. But then again, the same people watching those hours of reality are the same folks providing me with my unique form of entertainment.

No comments: