People watching is the best show on earth...

Sep 25, 2007

Puppet Masters

. Sep 25, 2007
18 Whispers

Today I'm browsing in the designer bag area of Bloomingdale's in Orange County, just looking. The sales lady hardly takes me seriously; she seems to see right through to my practicality. She doesn't ask me if I need help, nothing. Two young 20's come near. Both girls are blond, one with long straight hair and the other with a short bob. Both wear mini skirts and t-shirts. One girl's top says, "Don't hate on me" with a princess crown graphic. The other carries a giant Louis Vuitton bag. Gold bangle bracelets clink with every move. "May I help you ladies?" the sales person says:

Bangles: Yeah. Let me see this one, please.
Lady: Oh, that's a lovely bag. You've got great taste!
Bob: Oooooh! I love it, Stacia! Do you love it?
Bangles: It's alright. Yeah, I like it.
Lady: It's very stylish, honey. Very classy.
Bangles: Yeah, it's cute. Okay, thanks. We'll be back later.

The girls go towards the wallets and I follow:

Bob: You didn't like it? You're not getting it?
Bangles: Nope. I'm gonna tell my dad I'm depressed and he'll give me $500 bucks to go shopping. We'll come back tomorrow.

Both girls continue looking at wallets and openly displayed bags. Bangles's huge Vuitton bag knocks into the edge of a display and two bags fall on the floor. She doesn't pick them up.

Sep 22, 2007


. Sep 22, 2007
27 Whispers

I made a day trip to a local Indian casino yesterday and once there, remembered why we don't do it more often. It's extremely crowded; navigating slot machine aisles proves difficult without constantly bumping into others searching for empty machines. Eager players stand behind those already seated, waiting for their credits to disappear. Finally, I find a machine and plop on the stool, still warm from the last person's rear end.

I begin playing and glance at my neighbors. A petite Asian lady plays to my left, repeatedly moving her hand across the screen with every spin. A big white guy plays to my right. He is about 25, with a shaved head covered with small beads of perspiration. A girl stands by his side, biting her fingernail. He bangs his fist on the spin button again and again. Suddenly, he stands to go. As he does, a short older Asian lady inserts her player's card into his machine before he cleared the chair:

Man: Hey! You fuckin' bitch! You greedy bitch! Wait!
(He snatches her card out of the slot and throws it on the floor)
Lady: I, I, sorry.
Man: I, I, I, I! Fuck you, you ugly chink bitch!
(He steps on her card and kicks it away. He puts his hands on either side of his face and stretches out his features.)
Man: I, I, I hate you fuckin' people!

The lady bows her head a little, glancing nervously at the floor and back at the man. She places her hands together, palms touching, and holds them out in front of her, gently shaking them up and down. Again, she says "I sorry". The man's girlfriend is wide-eyed. She pulls at her boyfriend's large bicep with both hands, urging him away. He looks back at the lady several times while his girlfriend pushes him down the aisle, repeatedly kissing his cheek. He turns and yells, "I HATE you!" one last time before disappearing from the aisle.

Someone has retrieved the lady's card and gives it back to her. She sits down slowly on the stool. She is quietly crying. Security arrives but she waves them away, shaking her head and repeating, "No trouble! No trouble!". They try again to speak with her. Someone brings her a bottle of water. She continues waving her hands and gets off the stool. Her knees buckle and she falls to the ground.

Sep 17, 2007

Thrown Out

. Sep 17, 2007
18 Whispers

I was at the bay yesterday, squeezing one last Sunday out of summer. Laying on the shore with a smattering of others, the calm water mesmerized me almost as much as the beach's rhythmic waves. Young boys cavorting ended my daydream. One is tall and quite lanky, the other is shorter and solid. They are both white and perhaps 13. The lanky one is very pale with short auburn hair. His friend is tan with a buzz cut. They chase each other around, back and forth from the water's edge to their towels on the sand:

Buzz: Ahhhh! You can't catch me!
Lanky: Ha! Shut up! Watch out!
Buzz: See! Told you.
(Outruns Lanky and plops on his towel. Lanky oversteps and falls on his knees.)
Lanky: Hey! Watch this. I'm gonna pretend I'm throwing this to my dad.
(He grabs a football and throws it wildly. Wobbling sideways, it plunks into the bay.)
Buzz: Dude, that was lame!
Lanky: That's what he would say. I don't care!
Buzz: Aren't you gonna get the ball? It's floating away!
Lanky: Nope. My dad would be mad but I don't care. I'm glad he's gone.

Buzz looks back and forth between Lanky and the football a few times. Lanky returns to his towel and lays on his stomach. Buzz runs into the water, swims a short distance to retrieve the ball and drops it on Lanky's back. He stands, takes the football and throws it back into the bay with loud grunt.

Sep 15, 2007

Minimum Rage

. Sep 15, 2007
20 Whispers

I am at the University bookstore picking up my text, thank goodness for Saturday store hours. The campus is scarcely populated; a few students read and chat on the lawns. I park on a sunlit bench and crack open my new $80 (modest paperback) text. Three young boys race up on mountain bikes. All wear helmets and shorts. Two carry Coke cans, one does not. They are white, brown-haired and perhaps 11 or 12 years old. They drop their bikes and climb on the modern art structure behind me which looks like a giant orange slide minus the ladder up:

Coke 1: Yeah! This is so cool!
Cokeless: This whole place is cool. I could spend all day here! All these hills -
Coke 2: Me and my dad ride bikes here a lot. It's awesome.
Coke 1: Hey you guys! Watch this! (slides down the ramp squatting on his tennis shoes)
Cokeless: Whoooo! Sweet! I'll do it!
Coke 2: I love this campus. I'm gonna go here. My dad wants me to go here, too.
Coke 1: Yeah, I'm going here, too. I'm going to engineering.
Coke 2: Where are you going, Justin?
Cokeless: I dunno.
Coke 2: Why not? Where do you wanna go?
Cokeless: I dunno. Nowhere.
Coke 1: What? You have to go somewhere. Otherwise you won't get a job. You'll be poor.
Cokeless: No I won't! You will. College is expensive. I'm gonna work and I'll make money before you guys even.
Coke 1: Yeah, five bucks an hour!

Cokeless doesn't reply. Instead he kicks one of the other's Coke cans clear across the lawn.

Sep 10, 2007

Secret Weapons

. Sep 10, 2007
18 Whispers

I am at my salon for a color and trim. After my wash, I wait for my stylist to finish another client. Next to me sits an older lady getting her roots done. Foils cover her crown. She is white with blond hair on the shorter side. She wears pink lipstick and nail polish. A rather imposing diamond gleams on her left ring finger. A large Coach purse rests on the counter. She chats with her stylist, who continues painting her roots:

Client: Well, that Pavarotti's dead. Did you see that, honey?
Stylist: Who? Uh uh.
Client: Pavarotti, you know, the opera singer.
Stylist: Oh. Was he old?
Client: No he was not. Barely 70. But he had a young gal he left his wife for. Married 30 years and then poof! Off with a young one.
Stylist: No way! Was he handsome?
Client: No he was not. I'll tell you what, honey, a girl's gotta keep things up. Gotta keep our stuff in working order.
Stylist: Hahaha!
Client: I'm serious. These gals lettin' themselves go, carrying these giant butts around, no make-up, plain hair. Whoooo. You're playin' with fire right there.
Stylist: Well,
Client: Trust me, honey. I been married 54 years and ornery as my husband is, he's a happy little boy when a tight young waitress comes around. We're swimmin' with the sharks, honey. You get yourself a secret weapon.

Under the edge of a foil, she winks at her stylist in the mirror.

Sep 3, 2007


. Sep 3, 2007
11 Whispers

I'm at the beach today (again) and it's Labor Day crowded. I'm gazing at the waves when a family bustles by, spraying sand. They settle in front of me and unpack. The couple is white and 40-something. There are two young blond girls, a blond teenaged boy and two black boys, one toddler and one perhaps five or six. These two boys stand back while the girls raid the sand toys, grabbing pales and shovels. The teen tucks a boogie board under his arm and jogs to the sea.

After shouting warnings not to drift to the teen, the Dad kneels beside the older boy, puts his hand on his head and whispers something in his ear. The boy nods his head, takes his hand and the two start toward the water. The toddler screams and wails something incomprehensible. The older boy goes to him and tries to pull him toward the water, too. He cries louder and digs his heels into the sand. The Mother kneels down beside the two and takes both their hands in hers:

Mom: He's afraid, honey. He's just afraid. You go ahead and then you come right back and you let him touch you. Let him touch your wet hands and see that you're okay.

The older boy doesn't say a word. He pats the younger one on his chest and goes off with the father. Sure enough, he comes running back, breathless, laughing, dripping arms outstretched to his brother. All is calm once more. Still, the toddler stays on the sand with the mother.

Hours later, I'm packing up to go. I take in one more look at the sea, now choppy with frothy waves. I notice that this family sits all together on the sand now. The parents and older children encircle the two young black boys; the younger sits in the older's lap. The others have joined hands around them and sit with bowed heads. I hear murmuring, but I cannot understand. Even if I'd heard, I wouldn't post it.

Sep 1, 2007

Purple Eyeshadow

. Sep 1, 2007
4 Whispers

I am at Walgreen's browsing in cosmetics. Flip flops smacking precede two tween girls who rush the aisle, sharing one shopping basket. Both wear shorts and tank tops, one has painted toe nails - bright blue. The other wears a thin pink headband in blond hair. They are animated and chatter busily while fingering different products:

Pink Band: Eeeee! I'm so excited! Make-up changes everything.
Blue Toes: I know! I know! What are you getting for sure?
Pink Band: I get to get one eyeshadow, one lip gloss and one blush.
Blue Toes: But you have to get mascara! That's the best thing. It makes your eyes sexy.
Pink Band: Nope. My mom said no mascara and no blue or purple eye shadow. Only pink or tan.
Blue Toes: Why? What's wrong with purple or blue?
Pink Band: Because only certain girls wear those.
Blue Toes: Huh? What girls?
Pink band: The teenager moms.
Blue Toes: That's not true. Britney Spears wears purple eyeshadow and she's 25.
Pink band: Um...

Both girls move down the aisle, from one brand to another. Pink Band drifts off to the hair accessories. Blue Toes stops at a mirror on the counter. She turns sideways before it and twists her head to look.


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