Spying on Strangers

I remember reading the book Harriet the Spy in 3rd grade and then deciding that I was destined to be a detective. My friend I put some spying skills to use and would spy on her (extremely, extremely, extremely) mean neighbor Helen. We created a potion made out of Kleenex, and plotted how to get her to take the potion. We believed that the potion would miraculously make her nice.

My spy dreams were squashed when Helen caught us spying through the window. I was gullible enough, however, to still be convinced about the powers of Kleenex.

I quickly realized that I was never going to be a proficient private eye. I have far too many things going against me: I can’t whisper. I am not able to hide noiselessly. I’ve never caught a single clue in Monk or Law and Order. I am gullible enough to believe about any alibi.

However, I still use sleuthing skills on a regular basis. One of my favorite things to do is create stories about strangers. I do this pretty much everywhere I go. I watch people, and then pick up “details” about their private lives.

The great thing about this? Unlike when doing detective work, no evidence is required. There’s no opportunity for alibis. It’s a game where there’s no right answer, and, therefore, you’re always right.

If only tests were set up like that.

My absolute favorite place to search for a story? Bars. A guy wearing a tattered leather jacket becomes a banker who dreams of owning a farm, and is convinced that his leather jacket is the key to finding him a wife to run his future farm. A woman with an outdated hairstyle becomes someone who refuses to change her hair, for her shining moment is when she won “Miss Great Hair 1982” in Las Vegas for having such luscious locks.

When I was out last Friday, there was a guy and a girl (approximately 30 years old each) who were flirting with each other outrageously. The girl had on a pleather pink skirt that looked like it came from Limited Too. The guy was shorter than her and trying way too hard to be trendy. I would guess they met 2 weeks ago, but they couldn’t keep their hands off each other in a style that would make even Snooki blush.

Although most would turn a blind eye to this tryst, I was transfixed. I spent much of the night creating a story about this “couple.” [The girl was totally into it, but the guy was into everyone else at the bar the minute the girl broke for the bathroom…and then flipped his switch immediately when she returned].

Do you ever people watch? Do you ever create stories about the strangers you see?

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