July 5, 2006

People Watching

Who doesn't love to do a little people watching? I can't help it. When I see people I tend to WONDER what their stories are. Yesterday even my husband admitted "people are interesting," and I don't think he much pays attention to things like that.

We had a picnic lunch at the kids' favorite park. Here are some gleanings:

  • We are obviously amateurs at going to the park. This is actually something I've observed before. Most serious park-goers have blankets, folding chairs, coolers, and gallons of water. The must also arrive early because they also get the best, shaded areas.
  • I saw a couple at one of the tables. They had a big phonebook and a rolodex and were making phone calls. At first I was perplexed by this because if I had to work I wouldn't do it in the park when it was 93 degrees outside. (Yea! That's actually cool for here, but still not THAT cool.) I didn't realize until later that they had children because the man wasn't part of the...
  • Papa Perimeter--which is what you get when all the dads are standing around the edges of the playground watching their children. It's quite endearing! Like a line of bodyguards.

In the evening we went to a park in a neighboring city where there was a big celebration and fireworks display that attracted tens of thousands of people. Oh, you know that place was ripe for people watching.

  • Again, we are certainly amateurs because we lacked anything to temporarily set up house in the park. That was kind of on purpose because I didn't want to have to carry a bunch of stuff. The kids tried to talk me into taking a huge tote bags full of stuff, but when I suggested they might like to carry those things, they decided that we would probably be okay without. I carried my chapstick and a communal bottle of water. Other attendees, however, went to the park for the long haul. One family brought two playpens for their toddlers. Another family set up a tent.
  • While standing in line to get dinner, I observed a guy stuck in 1984 hitting on two girls who told him they were 19. He had long blond Van Halen hair, a baggy t-shirt, and sweat pants with pockets. I think the three of them were kind of talking about the live music on that side of the park, which happened to be country music. The man looked kind of young, but I thought he was maybe my age (it was the hair), until he started talking about remembering when getting tickets to Bob Seger was a big thing. Even I was thinking, "Huh?" The girls didn't know what to say. Crash and burn, dude. Crash and burn.
  • I would say that the majority of the people found a place on the grass--there was lots of it--to watch the fireworks. We were on our way to snag our piece when we found some unoccupied bleacher seating at the baseball field. The field itself was off-limits as it was the fireworks staging area. Front row seating, baby! With this seating came rambunctious boys who proceeded to wrestle and beat the crap out of each other for, well, 45 minutes or so? When the oldest one grew tired of his weakening sibling, he decided to climb the chain-link fence that separated the diamond from the spectator seating. I kept one eye on the boys and another eye on the reactions to the people sitting near us. Some elderly folks behind me look about as irritated as I felt, but other than that, nothing...
  • Our 5-year old said to me at one point when a one of boys was climbing and standing on the handrail, "That baby is going to fall!" I told him that the boy wasn't a baby, and he said, "But he's wearing a diaper!" Uhm, yea. What were our children doing while this was going on? Sitting quietly with only an occasional inquiry about the time. Something about seeing wild children just calms them right down. That's the second time I've seen that behavior in our kids in the last few days. Interesting.
  • Just minutes before the fireworks started a family squeezed into the seating around us. When the fireworks started, their dog started freaking out. It didn't really affect any of us in the stands, which I was thankful for, but the father of the family had to hold the dog and talk to him during the whole display. It was the kind of talk you would say to a small child who was afraid, "It's okay, nobody's going to hurt you, calm down, and etc." Through the WHOLE thing, and in both English and Spanish! Is the dog bilingual? I'm kind of jealous if he is.
  • While waiting for the shuttle, we stood in line in front of a woman, her pre-teen daughter, and the woman's friend. The woman seemed stressed out about something and couldn't wait to drop her daughter off and then go have a drink with her friend. It wasn't until we were on the shuttle that the woman turned around and told me her story. Just a few minutes before she left the house to meet her daughter and friend at the park, her 11-year old son was arrested for setting off firecrackers in an abandoned house with some friends of his. She was quite beside herself because there wasn't a lot she could do that night, and she couldn't believe that her straight-A son had gone off and gotten himself in such big trouble. Apparently it was the first summer she had decided to give him some freedom to go off with his friends without direct supervision. My first impression of her weren't so great, but then after hearing this story, I really believed that she had tried to raise some decent kids. I don't know, something just struck me. (BTW, does anyone else remember those summers when we went off for practically the whole day without direct supervision? And on the 4th of July, we sometimes had fireworks and matches!)
  • Self observation: At one point during the fireworks there was a succession of explosions that, to me, sounded like rapid gunfire. I quite overcome with emotion and almost started crying, as it reminded me of the soldiers we have overseas. When they hear those noises, it's not a sight of beautiful for them. I have quite a few former students in the Armed Forces, and at one point I could think of at least 8-9 in dangerous areas overseas. I'm so proud of them. And thankful to them. They damn well better be keeping their asses safe! They deserve to be spending the day with their families, too. [sniff]

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