The Fine Art of People Watching

5 Apr

I take immense pleasure in people watching. As a compulsive storyteller, it’s hard to watch a group of people without imagining intimate details about their lives, what they want people to think of them, or why they chose to wear that outfit. Rarely can I ignore the comments and elaborate backstories that crop up in my mind.

In my years of scrutinizing the general public, I’ve found that exclusive places and events breed a more banal and homogeneous crowd. Airports are great, but I’m often too caught up in getting to my flight to appreciate everyone around me. If you want to watch attractive girls purposely trying to look unattractive, go to an indie/alternative concert. For the amusing juxtaposition of twenty-something smartphone-obsessed  financial types and twenty-something anti-capitalism arts graduates, go to any coffee shop downtown in the afternoon. Sometimes it’s fun to pretend that two of them are siblings and try to guess whom is the disappointment to the parents.

Some of the best people watching locales are just generic public places where anyone might turn up.  The fortunate—but maybe unfortunate—thing about our condo building gym is that anyone can go. That’s how I would characterize the crowd at our building’s gym: anyone. My latest favourite was the woman in the polka dot house coat:

She slipped in through the door, barely opening it halfway, looking honestly surprised to see the rest of us there. The man working out in the sandals watched as she slowly slipped the house coat off her shoulders and stowed it in a plastic grocery bag. Intrigued, I kept an eye on her as well.

Her face was fully made-up and her hair was down. She wore a metallic blue tankini top with an oversized gold clasp on her decolletage. Her tights were basic black, and she wore them tucked into her boots. The curious thing about the tights, though, was that their sheen made them appear more like dress pants. On her feet she wore leather ankle boots, each one with an embellished sequin strap.

Within seconds of stepping onto a treadmill, she began a wild trot, arms shaking at her sides. Before she had reached more than two minutes, her ringing cellphone interrupted her. But no bother, she fetched it from her plastic bag and began to walk slowly. Note, however, that she didn’t adjust the speed. The trot and walk were both achieved at the same pace. After her conversation, which lasted about three minutes, she clutched her phone by her side and continued to walk. One minute later, she was off the treadmill, into the robe, and out of the gym.

I almost thought I had imagined the whole scenario until I looked over at Luc and saw him mouth the words, “What the hell was that?”


2 Responses to “The Fine Art of People Watching”

  1. Stevie 05/04/2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Holy hell, that’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in awhile. People never cease to amaze me. Some of my favorite people watching stories come from my daily rides on public transit. It’s solid gold.

  2. Lisa F-S 06/04/2011 at 3:13 am #

    i have been eagerly awaiting your next post Kris…. and that totally made up for the lengthy anticipation! i can only imagine a) the amazingness that was that girl, and b) your face in response! ;)

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