When Watching People Detaches Us
As a writer, observing people is part of the job description, or maybe it’s an occupational hazard. There are times I get so caught up with watching people and how they interact with each other, that I forget to interact myself. I wrote recently about feeling disconnected, but as I become more aware of those periods of disconnection, see there’s more to the story, and I’m confounded by whether the chicken or the egg came first, so to speak.
In other words, do I become disconnected because watching is so fascinating, or do I begin watching because I’ve become disconnected from the proceedings? Lately, the lines have been so blurred, I honestly don’t have an answer. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the next chapter and wondering where my subconscious is going to take me when I sit down to actually write it. You may have noticed that unlike those who can easily draw a straight line from point A to point B, my brain eschews the linear and more direct path for something quite convoluted. Rarely is a trip undertaken which doesn’t take a few detours, gathering odds and ends along the way.
Fortunately, because likes attract, many of my friends have a similar thought process so we follow each others’ conversational convolutions quite nicely, thank you. And since I am rarely asked “what did you mean by that” in relation to these posts, I have to believe many of my readers are also able to follow the conversational switchbacks as well.
But again, I digress. People watching, even for the casual observer and not the career watcher can be all-encompassing. Human beings are simply fascinating. And they’re especially so in social situations like bars where there’s a certain level of effort to attract the opposite sex. As my social life typically involves a bar or at least a dance floor, I tend to see certain types with regularity and have, over time, broken them down into categories as follows:
Archetypes in the Social World
- The Adonis: These are men who typically arrive late so the place is reasonably full. They clearly spend many hours at the gym, and have the skin-tight t-shirts to emphasize their dedication. Upon arrival, they make a slow circuit or two, ensuring that all the women in the place have noticed their bulging pecs. Then they’ll single out one lucky lady to bask in the glow of their awesomeness.
- The Piranha (sometimes also known as The Limpet): These are single women who keep one eye on the door so they’re the first to see new single men arrive. They are well-versed at starting conversations and holding a man’s attention, but often vie with others of their type for the same men. Scarcity tends to bring out the huntress in these women, and they don’t know the meaning of the words “defeat” or “retreat”.
- The Safe Ones: Again, of the female persuasion, these are women who typically dress a little more conservatively. They wear a look of serenity and have a similar style. Men tend to gravitate towards them because these women are unlikely to behave in an unexpected manner. They don’t tend to stand out and will likely give a guy her full attention.
- The Couples: This one really needs no explanation, but for the sake of completeness, I include them.
- The Free Spirits: These folks typically stand out, either by their attire or their actions, and often both. They aren’t part of the interpersonal ebb and flow as they’re usually just there to have a good time and hang with friends.
- The Exotics: Like the Free Spirits, these are also unique, but in such a way that they get attention without even trying. They may or may not be interested in attracting someone. Again, they are there to have a good time and for the most part, go home alone. They are often found in the center of one group or another as they’re also very social.
- The Wall Flowers: Face it. There will always be women who blend in with the scenery. They’re a little socially awkward, but don’t necessarily hang out alone. However, in an environment like a dance club, they’re all too often not asked to dance, or if they are, it’s infrequent.
- The Weirdos and Freaks: Every club has them, and for the most part, they’re harmless. They can also be amusing. They don’t seem to care what people think of them. They take goofiness to new levels. And they break up the monotony of some of the more normal or sedate patrons.
- The Charming Charlies: These guys could sell ice to the Eskimos. They’re charming to a fault, and are often nice to wall flowers, old ladies… pretty much everyone. They also tend to have a bevy of beauties vying for their attention.
- The Drinkers: What would a bar be without the ones who are there to get a buzz…or maybe more than just a buzz? They keep the place in business, and if you’re lucky, they’re happy drunks. Just don’t try to dance with one. They’re loose as a goose, but you’re not, and you could get hurt.
- The Entitleds: These folks have no concept of dance floor etiquette or personal space or even common courtesy. They believe the world revolves around them and want what they want when they want it. They’ll sit at an obviously occupied table and congregate in pods who hog floor space so others can’t get by them. In the olden days, we might have just called them spoiled brats.
- The Old Folks: As I age, this category does too. But there are a few who, even in a place where you go to have fun, are crotchety and cranky. They also tend to move a little slower (or sometimes, a lot slower) and don’t handle change well, whether it’s a new dance, new music, or a new place on the floor. They’re treated respectfully because of their age, and, let’s face it, they deserve credit for still being out there dancing instead of sitting at home in front of the TV.
There are also a few one or another of us has given a special nickname. Most of those are affectionate with the exception of one or two who can be especially annoying. A local bar and dance hall is usually a friendly place and if you’re lucky, one where single women can go and feel safe from being accosted. It’s a healthier environment in which to unwind from whatever stresses life might throw at you.
A friend indirectly pointed out that I’d left a key point out of my observations and categorizations. Human beings are seldom as they appear on the outside, especially when surrounded by strangers. We don masks to hide the more fragile elements of our beings. This is what makes not only the observing but the typing so interesting to me. Once I’ve seen where someone fits in the overall social dynamic, I’m free to let my imagination follow tangents of its own, filling in blanks, creating back stories and otherwise delving into the person behind the social mask.
In fact, I’m especially fond of newcomers, not because I flock to them like a piranha, but because I can observe them and create a persona free of any ideas I might have inadvertently formed by seeing how they interacted with other people; with my friends. Aside from which pattern they initially exhibit, these folks are a blank slate, and what’s more fun to draw on?
Going Off on Another Tangent
It seems a post which started out talking about people watching and disconnecting has evolved into something completely different. Instead of focusing on the person doing the observing, it’s somehow morphed into some of those observations. Maybe that’s where it was meant to go in the first place.
At least I have the basic archetypes should I ever write a scene about a bar where people go to dance. This list would easily span both the regular patrons and the occasional visitors though some are more relevant for the regulars if only because they’re there often enough to get a more complete picture of their personalities. There’s certainly a cross-over to other social situations as well.
So there you have it. Proof I spend more time watching people than might be healthy. Yet I suspect I’m not alone in my people watching, even if I fall back on it with greater frequency than the norm. Hasn’t everyone categorized people around them at one time or another? In an airport? A grocery store? On the freeway?
It Begins and Ends with Gratitude
Tonight’s gratitudes are:
- I am grateful for my powers of observation.
- I am grateful I can amuse myself.
- I am grateful that I am never truly alone in a crowd as long as I can let my imagination run wild.
- I am grateful for people who give me something to watch and analyze.
- I am grateful for abundance; life, love, diversity, personality, character, inspiration, imagination, humanity, friendship, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!