People watching is the best show on earth...

Dec 27, 2007

Bathroom Sneak

. Dec 27, 2007
30 Whispers

I am out amongst the after-holiday sale crowds at a local mall. People yawn as they trudge around clothes racks. Some scowl as I wait in line. Merchandise litters the floor in aisles near the cash registers. I finally reach check out and my stomach growls audibly. As I step out into the fresh air, a Soup Plantation restaurant beckons. I approach eagerly, under the spell of delicious soups, salads and breads served buffet style.

The restaurant is only scattered with diners. I'm relieved. I grab a tray and start down the assembly line of fresh food. A couple falls in behind me. The man sighs repeatedly as the woman talks about someone's family drama. She is a slender brunette in jeans and a black turtle neck. She selects lettuce and spinach, piling more fresh vegetables atop the mound. The man is heavy-set with broad shoulders and a shaved head. He wears black sweat pants and a plaid flannel shirt. He fills his plate with Caesar's salad and spoons pasta and potato salads onto it. The woman looks at her husband's plate repeatedly as she's talking. We approach the salad dressing bar and the man pours two ladles of blue cheese atop his plate. The woman chooses raspberry vinaigrette:

Woman: Honey, come on. That's too much dressing.
Man: Oh geez. Not today, huh? Let's just enjoy our lunch.
Woman: Well, you wanna lose weight. I'm just trying to support you.
Man: Do me a favor. Don't be so supportive.
Woman: Well. I'm just saying.
Man: Trust me. I know what you're saying.

We pay for our meals and part ways. After cleaning my plate, I head back to the buffet for some delicious fat noodle chicken soup. On my way I pass the bread island. The man is standing in front of a steaming tray of chocolate muffins. He leans forward, then hesitates. He glances around the island toward the dining area. He returns to the muffins, takes one in each hand and walks opposite of the dining room. My bowl of soup and I peak after him around the corner. He and his muffins enter the men's restroom.

Dec 19, 2007

Santa's Health

. Dec 19, 2007
26 Whispers

I am in the refrigerated section of Ralph's grocery store on my way to the cottage cheese but linger in front of the cookie dough with particular interest in the mini cinnamon rolls. Shoppers whiz by with carts loaded to the brim for holiday feasts. A little girl steps up to the cold case and puts her nose within inches of a roll of chocolate chip cookie dough. She is white and wears a pink jacket with a "Dora the Explorer" graphic. She jumps a little in place and claps her hands twice, smiling. A man follows close behind:

Girl: Daddy! Here! Cookies for Santa.
Dad: Okay, okay, honey. Let's see. Here, these are good. Santa likes chocolate chip.
Girl: Is it no sugar? I want to get no sugar.
Dad: Why? These are fine. Regular cookies are fine.
Girl: No! Dad! What if Santa has diabetic like me? It's dangerous!
Dad: (laughs) No, honey. Santa is not diabetic. Don't worry about it. These are fine.
Girl: Daddy! We can't do that! It HAS to be no sugar.
(The man keeps the tube of dough originally chosen and begins to walk away with his daughter pulling on his arm. A few more protests, but soon they are out of sight.)

Moments later, I cave in to the mini cinni's and am wheeling my cart away when the little girl returns holding a woman's hand. The lady carries the tube of cookie dough. The two approach the cold case, put the tube back and take another. They leave with Pillsbury sugar-free chocolate chip dough, sweetened with Splenda.

Dec 16, 2007

Playing Fetch

. Dec 16, 2007
25 Whispers

I am exiting the freeway on an off ramp that's always stacked up enough for two traffic light cycles to pass. The exit curves around so that as I wait in line to approach the signal I cannot see the intersection until I round the bend. I am not in a hurry and turn up the Christmas tunes on my stereo. Stevie Nicks' smokey voice is singing "Silent Night". I turn the volume up even louder.

Sunset is beginning and the clouds are pinkish orange against the blue sky. I roll down my tinted window to see them more clearly and the cold bites my nose. I close the window and rev up the heater. Still waiting in the line of cars, I start wondering where everyone is going. I am behind a black SUV with three silhouettes in the back seat bobbing and swaying to music, I presume.

I turn the bend and see a man standing on the island at the traffic light, which has turned red again. He holds a sign that says, "Hungry - PLEASE HELP - god bless." He is black, wears gray sweatpants and a yellow t-shirt with short sleeves and a faded graphic. I think he is barefoot but as I look closer I see he wears flip flops. The car ahead of me rolls to a stop for the light and is now next to the man. There is movement inside the car. The passenger window lowers and an arm sticks out holding a burger or sandwich wrapped in paper. The man puts his sign down and walks toward the food, smiling.

Suddenly the arm yanks downward and lobs the burger high into the air. It lands in the brush, about 20 feet from the off ramp. I hear boys' laughter. The man's smile disappears. The light turns green. The SUV speeds off. A boy yells, "Go fetch, man!" from an open window. The car behind me honks. I am frozen, watching the man who crosses the divider and limps into the brush.

Dec 11, 2007

Conditional Love

. Dec 11, 2007
23 Whispers

I'm overjoyed at finding a perfect gift for a good friend and stand in line to pay. After five minutes, I see that I have once again chosen the slowest line in the register bank. Inching forward, I'm finally three customers away from payment. A young Hispanic girl is at my register. She is perhaps 17, wears a red sweater and a Christmas tree pin with blinky lights. Two girlfriends chat in line in front of me, behind the customer currently paying. They are white, one redhead and one blond. Suddenly, the man paying speaks loudly, drawing my attention:

Man: That's not the right change.
Cashier: Uh, I put the wrong amount.
Man: Well, yeah. But the change is still wrong.
Cashier: Huh?
Man: I'm a buck short on my change.
Cashier: Um, I put $200 instead of $20 that you gave me.
Man: I know, I know. I see that. But you still gave me the wrong change. Just take the zero off and do it in your head .
(The girl looks blankly at the monitor screen and bites her lip. The man shakes his head.)
Cashier: Uh, so do what now?
Man: Geez, honey. It's $20 take away $11.79.... So?
(Red blotches form on the cashier's face. She looks nervously at her coworker, who finally steps in to assist her.)
Cashier 2: He gets $8.21 back. Just open the drawer with a void and give him the dollar.

The cashier does as she's told and the man stomps away, again shaking his head. The redhead in front of me elbows her friend and whispers, "God. I hope I don't have a dumb kid. I really do. I wouldn't have the patience. I mean, seriously." She looks about seven months pregnant.

Dec 7, 2007

A Calculated Risk with Santa

. Dec 7, 2007
16 Whispers

I'm braving the holiday crowds in the mall. I take a quick break from my shopping list, buy a cinnamon pretzel and sit on the side of a planter. The line for free Santa Claus photos runs right past me and curls around the jewelry store at the corner of this wing. Children of all shapes and colors wait in line with their adults. Some are excited, others afraid, a few indifferent. The line inches forward and soon there is a toddler in front of me, wailing. She wears a red velvet dress, white tights with little green Christmas trees and black patent leather shoes. Her mother sighs, hands on hips. She tries to pick the child up, who lifts her arms straight up in the air and goes limp. Mom struggles with the dead weight.

A little boy, around four, is in front of them with his mother. He looks repeatedly at the crying girl and then peers to Santa, at least 15 kids away. He wears a red sweater vest, plaid pants and a tiny red bow tie. He grabs his mother's hand and turns to the whining girl:

Boy: Don't cry! Little girl, don't cry. (He looks at his mother, who smiles him on)
Girl: Looks briefly at the boy and continues to cry.
Boy: Stop crying! Santa doesn't like it. He doesn't like it when you cry.
Girl: Cries louder.
Boy: Hey, little girl? You can go before me? (He looks at his mom, who caresses his chin and nods in agreement to the girl's mom.)
Girl's Mom: Oh, that's so nice of you honey. Are you sure?
Boy's Mom: It's okay, go ahead. I've been there. (The pairs exchange places in line.)
Boy's Mom: That was very kind of you, baby.
Boy: It's good! Santa will like me more after her because I'm not crying.

Dec 4, 2007

Child Channels Alicia Keys

. Dec 4, 2007
9 Whispers

In between eavesdropping, I'll occasionally post about the wonders of creativity. I so appreciate it in so many forms - writing, singing, drawing, web design, a new medical treatment from creative research...and on. Creativity in a child can move me to tears sometimes. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because children are such reflections of their parents' love that when I see a confident, creative, vibrant child I feel the life force that lifts them up. This morning I saw creative talent I'm just compelled to share. Gabi Wilson is 10 years old. She plays her own instruments and sings her soul free. Please watch the video and be amazed by this young one's voice and spirit. Goodness is all around us.

You will need to tolerate a short ad before each clip -

Amazing 10-year-old musician
Singing Alicia Keys

This young girl has a musical gift!
On Bass Guitar

Dec 1, 2007

No Christmas List This Year

. Dec 1, 2007
21 Whispers

Tonight it's raining in Southern California. The newscasts all have 'storm watch' for us fragile sun worshipers. We decide to fight the cold with some delicious hot Italian food for dinner and motor over to a popular ristorante down the street. It's Friday night crowded and we're seated in a booth behind another family with young teens. The kids, a teenaged girl and younger boy, sit behind me across from their parents. They are white, the females are blond and the males brunette. The dad talks on a cell as we're seated. The children joke and laugh with each other. Their father cannot hear his caller and tells them firmly to be quite. The call ends and their conversation resumes. After several moments:

Daughter: Mom, at lunch we were all talking about what we want for Christmas?
Mom: Yeah?
Daughter: Yeah, and I'm all, I really really really want a Juke. And Megan goes, me too! Isn't that funny? It's a really cool phone and it does so much stuff!
Mom: Yes, I know honey. You've told me that.
Daughter: Haha! I know but it's just sooooo killer. But do you know what's weird? Megan's friend Jen was all quiet and we're all, 'What are you asking for, Jen?' and she's like, I don't know. So we kept asking her and then she said her Mom said no Christmas list this year. She's not allowed. Can you believe that?
Mom: Well, maybe they're having trouble -
Dad: There's no reason to have financial trouble if the man of the house is a good provider. Simple as that. What does this girl's father do? Does he work?
Daughter: She said her Dad's in Iraq.

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