Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Joys of People Watching

Have you ever found yourself getting caught up in watching people? Maybe you wonder what they’re thinking, what their lives are like, where they’re going and more importantly, why they’re dressed the way they are?

Most of you are saying…um…NO. Well, I love watching people. I blame it on my Mom. When we would go out for dinner and there was an inevitable wait, she would entertain us kids by pointing at a couple outside the window and asking “What do you suppose they are talking about out there?” And that’s how my people watching got started.

The stories we would create would have us laughing through the whole meal as our unsuspecting thespians carried on their business, which was, inevitably, not even close to the stories we painted for them.

In order to fully appreciate wandering humans, I must be out in public with nothing to do. Like waiting for someone to finish errands while you wait in the car.

Nobody knows I’m just sitting here in my car…watching them. People scurry through the parking lot, pretty much oblivious to everything except what’s on their shopping list. At least, that’s the safe thing to think.

I see plenty of friends wandering in and out of the store. I’m too lazy to get out and say hello, so instead I just wonder how they’re doing and make a quick mental list of people I need to catch up with. Beyond that, it’s more fun to pretend what strangers are thinking when they walk by.

Oh goodie, there’s a woman in her late fifties, wearing bright orange spandex pants and a halter top under her parka. Here’s what she’s might be thinking: “I’d better hurry or I’ll be late for my Vegas Revue. Must get more mascara and pasties, and check on my pole dancing class.”

See how easy it is?  That’s how it works.

There’s a lovely young man with a bouquet of flowers leaving the store. He wipes his brow and is talking to himself. Is he rehearsing an apology? A proposal? A request for a first date? The possibilities are endless, but I settle on the apology. It’s the middle of the day, after all. He probably stayed out too late playing poker, and really – what guy buys his woman flowers in the middle of the day for no reason at all?

There’s a harried father with two toddlers, one already pointing at the store, no doubt asking if she can hang out in the cereal or toy aisle. He’s contemplating it, but he’s also probably thinking his daughter will tell his wife when they get home, and that won’t be pretty. He pulls out the shopping list before he heads in through the noiseless sliding doors. He squares his shoulders like a man going off to war. His momma would be proud.

Sometimes, watching people is so entertaining that I’m almost disappointed when make-believe time is over. I didn’t even have a chance to think about the teenage couple holding hands, the gentleman that comes out with loads of soda cans, or the elderly lady getting out of the taxi.

The next time you’re waiting anywhere, make up your own story about the strangers walking by. Don’t be mean and judgemental, be creative. Strangers, if they notice you at all, will  be confused by the mysterious smile on your face…and that will be amusement enough.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Staying Young Has Nothing To Do With Miracle Creams

I think I’ve found the secret to staying young. And I don’t think it has much to do with lotions, potions, make up or plastic surgery.

Not long ago, I was near a Toys R Us. I was going in just to look, really, and possibly to pick up a gift for my nephew and niece in California. However, about thirty seconds after I walked through the door, I forgot all my dear little what’s-their-names and what child-like delight they would show at whatever gift I picked for them.

My eyes were drawn in all directions at once, which, let me tell you, causes a ridiculous eye strain. The colours were so bright, inviting you to touch, to want. The glitter and shine of the pinks and purples of the ‘girlie’ toys, the masculine blacks, reds and blues of the ‘boy’ toys all made me realize one thing.

It stinks to be a grown up.

I’d like to know who made the rules that say we’re not allowed to play with toys, not allowed to pretend after a certain age. Are you thinking “Nobody told me I couldn’t play with toys anymore…”?

Exactly. Somehow, we let an interest in the opposite sex take away our desire for the very things that made us laugh, stretched our imaginations, allowed incredible fantasies and made us forget about anything that made us sad as children.

Why don’t we do that now? For some reason, we adults change from toys to dates, to bars, to marriage, children, jobs, careers, other people…whatever. Simply said, we grow up.

Who makes the rules on when it’s time to grow up, anyway? Who says you can’t be an adult and still enjoy total reality abandonment like a child does? Like your children do?

Put down your cell phone, PDA, laptop, wallet, glass, newspaper and dinner preparations. Put them all down. Go to your child’s room, the attic or a toy store. Find a toy you used to love when you were a child. Smile at it and remember.

Remember what it was like to pick up your Barbies and immediately fall into their world. Find Ken and make it happen, ladies. Men, go find a Hot Wheels track, or build a fort under the dining room table. Make a tent out of your bed sheets and play doctor with your wife. Grab the pots and pans from the bottom drawers. Raise that wooden spoon and bring back the Racket Band that you used to love when you were in diapers.

Life is meant to be fun, to be enjoyed. Sure, there are responsibilities to be handled on a daily basis. But if we handle them, and then forget them for awhile while we play with the Easy Bake Oven or the Erector Sets….what’s the harm? Find a refrigerator box and climb in. It’s your world. Have fun with it.

Watch children for examples. They’ve got it down to an effortless

science. And, me – I’m working really hard on this and should be an expert in no time.