People watching people, other people watching me


Walking through the mall yesterday and then at a get together last night, I was reminded of one of my favorite pastimes – watching people.  I like to be in a position where I can just sit back and observe while they have no idea that you are keeping an eye on them.  Coffee shops, malls, parking lots and my personal favorite – pubs / parties – makes fantastic hunting ground for this little hobby.  The latter is especially entertaining, seeing that you get to shamelessly observe the transformation people undergo as time progresses.  Not being a great conversationalist and always opting for the listen more – speak less option, helps a great deal too.  I particularly like Jack Johnson’s take on it.

With Christmas less than a week away, I once again marvel at last-minute Christmas shoppers.  What is supposed to be a joyous time, a time of love and family and laughter and giving and sharing, soon turns into a scramble to grab the last item, to hunt for the best price and inevitably a reason for tempers to flare.  You watch couples stomp past you or standing in shops arguing about “which is the best one to take” or “we should have gotten here earlier” or mom trying to convince dad that the educational toy a much better is for Timmy than wall-climbing 4 wheel remote control car (which is actually more for dad than for Timmy).  I remember the Christmas of 2004 when my then husband and I had such a row in a shop because neither one of us would budge over our choice of Christmas dessert, that we both stormed out and I subsequently got knocked over by a car travelling in the wrong direction, resulting in a mild concussion and complete amnesia of the day.  What stupid things people fight about!

Pub / party people watching is by far the most entertaining, funniest and most revealing about what people really are all about.  It is quite fascinating to see the transformation that occurs as people go from stone cold sober to slightly tipsy to, well, just simply totally plastered.  The wallflower turns into the dancing queen as inhibitions go out the door.  This inevitably leads to a lot of “what did I do last night?!” moments and I sometimes wish I could be a fly on the wall the next morning too.

My favorite type or group of people to watch are those who have an infatuation with someone or are “in love”.  Last Sunday I spend the day with a friend at the 7’s Rugby in Cape Town.  Just 3 rows in front of us was this young couple who were so clearly deeply in love.  It was the most beautiful thing to see.  I don’t know for how long they’ve been together, but there was no question as to whether cupid’s arrow had hit the desired target.  I sat there and the cynic in me wanted to go up to them and tell them to treasure the moment, because neither of them knows for how long they will be looking at it each with that sparkle in their eye.  Luckily I didn’t spoil their day by doing so and opted to just keep watching and ponder on how nice it would be to have someone look at you like that and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is real and it was going to stay that way.

Heck, for that matter anyone who harbors any form of deep-seated emotion (be it positive or negative) toward someone else makes for interesting viewing.  There is so much to be learned if we just shut up and watch.  I saw this while spending some time with friends recently.  Among them were a man and a woman who at some point had a relationship, but called it off.  It was made very clear to everyone from the get go that they are not back together and it wouldn’t be happening either.  After doing my “Shut up, sit back and observe” routine for a good couple of hours, I am not entirely sure about that fact.  You know how someone will look at another when they think no-one is watching?  It was all there in those looks, neither of them aware of the other sneaking peeks more often than not, their eyes speaking of a million memories of shared moments.  The slight innuendo when they spoke to each other and body language which closed off everyone around them just confirmed what was already clear to see.  Honestly, you had to be blind not to notice, yet they both continued to vehemently deny even the remotest possibility of them getting back together.  It reminded me of this quote I saw a while ago.


All I can say is that the final chapter of that book has not been written by a long shot.  If you had to ask me I would probably give it a month, maybe two at the outside, before they are a regular item again, but that is just my humble opinion.  It should be quiet interesting to see how this one is going to pan out.


With my annual leave having just started and the promise of beautiful summer’s days in the air, I definitely look forward to spending a lot of time in the next 3 weeks on the beach among the throngs of holiday makers and hope to have a couple more interesting accounts to share with you in the very near future.

Until then, take a step back and just watch.  You might be surprised at what you can learn about those around you and hopefully have a giggle or two about it too.

And there, just now, it struck me, what do others think when they watch me…