I stare at people from a distance... because that's not creepy. In my defense, I'm just judging them. As is whomever is joining me at the local watering hole I'm pissing away my retirement money at. Who am I kidding? I'm on no pace to live through retirement anyway. So judge me if you like, I'm probably going to return the favor if you drink where I'm slowly destroying my liver.
If you can't tell yet, I'm pondering my captivating experiences with the delicate art of people watching. People watching to me is what vista-gazing is to the Grand Canyon: You haven't really been if you haven't done it! Maybe I'm a shallow creep. Maybe I'm judging others in an effort to mask my own flourishing insecurities. No matter what reason I'm doin it for, I enjoy it!
So, what are some of the tell tale signs of the perfect cheap target? Mullets? Canadian tuxedos? People wearing pants that look like they're trying to devour their privates? Tight affliction shirts? Maybe it's as simple as the lonely guy inhaling brown liquor at such a furious pace that it makes you think that his idol is Ben Sanderson from the movie Leaving LasVegas (Nicholas Cage). Ooooohhhh... maybe the 47 year old leather-faced divorce'e with a wicked moose knuckle that's throwing the "fuck me" looks around the bar at any late 20's/early 30's gentleman that happens to glance in her general direction?
Really though, it's not a power trip to judge random people; it's just fascinating. Children do it all the time so why not engage ourselves in the innocent activity we're all nostalgig for? If you're good, you don't just watch people though. You point out their mannerisms, guess their ambitions, or you just wonder what they're thinking. You eavesdrop on them. You basically watch the natives socialize, frolic, flirt and nuzzle. Seriously, bars are pratcically designed for spectators most of the time. So why waste an ideal opportunity? There are no ethical qualms. People should know that what they say and do in public is fair game!
On that note, there IS a fine line between perverted staring and the simple observation of patrons. One must let go of their stalker tendencies and people-watch simply for the personal enjoyment. It's about combining the subtlety and timing in order to maximize one's people watching experience! Add your knowledge of pop culture references and the the perfect locale and you can make a night of it. For example, some like scoping out "doppelgangers", AKA the lost twin of a celebrity. Personally, that's just too easy. I prefer to pick out the "celebrity lovechild" of the bar. Someone that looks like a fusion between two celebrities of any age, sex, color or creed. I must admit it, I am a pro at the lovechild recognitions. If you're not as clever and ingenious to come up with these whimsical concoctions as I am, it's ok. Stick to the simple stuff. Find the person that looks like: Dog the bounty hunter, Daughtry, Chris Penn(too soon?), Sinbad, David Caruso, or Murtaugh from lethal weapon (these have been some of my personal favorites in the last few years). Just study the locals and it will come to you.
One of my personal favorite people watching districts is downtown Naperville, IL. It is a prime spot for the young, the midlife crisis battling, the backpack-wearing, the muscle shirt stretching, the skateboard-bearing and the sugar-daddy prospecting. I like to go there to see what happens when the terminally hip mature for the most part. Honestly, it is quite vomit inducing to see how some people grow up to be more socially repugnant and inconsiderate towards those around them than you could ever conceptualize. Therefore my trips there happen to be few and far between, though consistently entertaining. I highly suggest you partake!
So take some time out of your frantic schedules to just sit back and watch your fellow human being in whatever style you prefer. It beats sitting at home! Get out there!!!
Tom - The Filterless Irishman