Monday, August 26, 2013

Notes From A People-Watcher

Yes, I'm one of those people.  I find other people absolutely fascinating: what they wear, what they say, what image they choose to project for themselves.  Himself regularly has to remind me not to stare, which can be quite embarrassing when I'm caught.

My family has been at a water park for the last couple of days.  It's hard enough for me to keep my eyeballs to myself when people are fully clothed, but in swimsuits??  Fuhgeddaboutit.  No chance.

The major take-homes of my time here?   First, that I need to stop worrying about what I look like in a swimsuit, since in the grand scheme of things I'm clearly doing ok (although I'm also not likely to be an SI model anytime soon), and second, that I am absolutely in the minority of adults for not having a tattoo. No doubt at all on that.

One particularly memorable guy I saw today had a truly giant potbelly and multiple tats, including one of a sun around his belly button, which must have been relatively new since it was unstretched and symmetrical.    The belly button itself was pierced with a tiny jingling bell.  Would love to have been able to ask him why!  Another time I was in a line behind a beautiful African-American girl of perhaps 20, who also had multiple tats, including one on the back of her right shoulder marking the passing of a baby girl named Destini.  It was a long line, so first (just to entertain myself) I did some math and calculated that the baby had only lived 52 days, then started thinking about the actual dates and realized that the baby probably hadn't been the child of the girl with the tattoo, since she likely would have been too young to be its mother (the dates were from 2004.)  I can only imagine that there is a personal and painful history behind that tattoo.

I look at people because what I see tells me part of their story, and our stories are what make us human, what make us who we are as individuals.  Sometimes it's just faces that tell stories, too, not even clothes or bodies or ornamentation.  Tonight I noticed a boy of perhaps 12 who was clearly in distress, stopped to ask if I could help and learned that he couldn't find his mother.  If I had to guess from our conversation, he's high-functioning autistic, and he was just panic-stricken.  I took him to a lifeguard and explained the situation: hopefully he was able to find the boy's mother.  When I got back to my family, who'd overheard nothing of this, Petunia asked me if the boy was ok because she'd noticed that he was upset.

I think I know who's another people-watcher...

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