I like to read people watching entries on weblogs. They are like spying on people except that I can’t possibly get caught. I love to read about the ideas that other people have about the people they are watching. That’s probably why I like to write people watching entries. I guess I just really like to watch people.
It’s something that Mike doesn’t really enjoy. He plays along with my silly little game because he knows I like it, but he doesn’t really enjoy it. I could just sit at a crowded shopping mall, an amusement park or a coffee shop and the most exciting thing about all of those places is to watch the people.
The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and therefore never scrutinize or question. – Stephen Jay Gould (1941 – 2002)
I love to make up stories about them. I see a man walking across the street with a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket in one arm and a bag of sides in another and I feel excited for him. He has a bunch of people waiting for him at home and when he walks into the door, he will be the hero. He brought the KFC. Maybe everyone is coming to his place to watch a movie. He and his friends argued all week about which movie they were going to watch and in the end everyone gave up. They decided to let the movie freak pick. He always brings the weirdest movies, but it really isn’t about the movie. It’s about all of them getting together.
That’s the kind of story that will instantly come to my head. I saw that guy crossing 7th East at 21st South. He looked happy, even though it was snowing outside. I was warm in the Beetle, just watching him. I pointed him out to Mike and started telling the story, but Mike was driving and we got too far away before I could finish the story.
Everything you can imagine is real. – Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
I make up stories about people I know, too. Work acquaintances, people I talk to at the gym, and people I used to know a long time ago. I’ve found that in every case, my stories are completely wrong. Every time, they are strictly a work of fiction. They come to me so quickly that I sometimes believe that I can read the minds of people. Nope, nada, nunca. Every time, it’s wrong.
So, what is it? If it’s not clairvoyance, it must be my imagination. It must be what I want for those people. I want that guy to have a fun party. After trekking all the way to 13th East on foot in the snow, I want him to have the best party with that Kentucky Fried Chicken. He looked so happy that I didn’t want to think about ungrateful children or fighting in-laws. I wanted him to stay happy, so I imagined the happiest get-together that included KFC that I could imagine.
You try to give away what you want yourself. – Lois McMaster Bujold, “Memory”, 1996
Maybe it’s a cry for what I want in my life. Maybe I want a movie party with a bunch of friends and a movie freak. I miss those days of casual get-togethers with KFC and tofu for Cory. My huge group of friends have all moved away to San Diego, San Francisco, even Japan. Yeah, that’s it. I miss my friends, so I was giving him what I wanted. I guess people watching has more to do with me than it does the people.