I like watching people, seeing how they react and function when they’re busy going about, living life. Seeing how they interact with each other and the world around them. Catching a person in a genuine act of care or love is the best of all… a mother cooing to her child, or vice versa… siblings playing nicely together… a couple of any age holding hands and smiling to one another. Body language is fascinating stuff. A hand on another’s shoulder can be one of discipline or kindness, depending on the setting. There’s never a shortage of folks to watch. I used to go to the airport in particular to watch people. a remarkable cross-section there.
I wonder about faces, sometimes. There are some people who look drastically different to me depending on where and how we meet. One girl stands out in my mind in particular, with whom I worked at the bookstore, back in the early 90s. Breyer (spelled like the ice cream, wit like the thorn) was especially odd in that way. She could run a range of looks that seemed to even change the shape of her face… from round, to a more square and then to sort of a diamond. I never quite worked out how she did that. It wasn’t changing a hairstyle, because she had pretty much the same sort of ‘do every time. Perhaps it was how she did her makeup.
I’ve noticed it in myself, too…photos of myself don’t seem to always “look like me”, at least the “me” I see in the mirror every morning. Even Newt has bad and good hair days…on rare occasions, he can look downright imperious and dominating instead of his usual fluffy-baby face. I know for a fact that I’m not photogenic.. flipside, I know a couple of people that look a thousand times better in a still image rather than up close and in real life. I’d like to know what causes that bias… perspective? film grain? lighting? magical pixies? Heck, I’m not sure… maybe it’s some sort of combination.
I get a similar vibe from looking at photos from the turn of last century… people *did* look different back then, either as a result from the elements mentioned earlier, or some strange “facial evolution” that can take place over as few as three generations. I wonder if it’s because we can travel more easily now, and spreading out the gene pool is simpler… a hundred years ago, a man in Florida would be pretty unlikely to mate with a woman in Maine, let alone England or Japan.
Where will we be in a hundred or two hundred years? a thousand? I wonder how strange we’ll appear to them, looking back over such a long photographic record… and will our visual representation be accurate in the way we see one another now? I doubt many kids from now will romanticize today…not like the old west or pirates, anyhow. Can you imagine some kid wanting to go out and play “like the Olsen Twins, way back in ’99!” or even Star Wars a hundred years from now, honestly? I’m guessing that Super-heroes will still have followers… but what’s the next big “real life” thing? Nostalgia is caught in a tight loop… a twenty-year hole with a modern twist. that 70s show, etc.
(Side note… when did “instead” become one word? “in stead” works, too… will “insteadof” become a word a hundred years from now?)
memory sparked from the reflection above –
The scene: sitting in the old tan Mercedes, riding home from breakfast after church. I’d had my usual of french toast, and my six year old brother had pigs in blankets with orange juice (he always requested “no pulp, please”, and was a cute little ash blonde-haired, blue-eyed squirt). It was summertime, because we were vacationing in the Keys, staying in Grampa’s spare “Retreat” a double-wide trailer in Marathon. I was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and a blue tie, already loosened as soon as we got out of Mass. Brother had similar gear on, but his tie was already off… Dad was out of his suit jacket, but still was snappy in a long-sleeved shirt and matching tie, with the rest of the boys. Mom was wearing a dark blue outfit, that had sort of a Nehru collar, short sleeves and a skirt, but looked professional. She had just started bleaching her hair to match my brother’s. (She’s been gray since she was a teen.)
From the Back of the car driving along the beach.
Me: “What’s a brothel?”
Mom:(Shocked) “What? Where did you read that?”
Me: (Pointing to a paragraph in a history magazine) “Right here… ‘an old west town traditionally had a single church with adjoining graveyard, a livery stable and hotel, barber/dentist’s office, a doctor, and the obligatory saloon with an upstairs brothel‘…. so what’s a brothel?” (I knew what all the other things were, including a saloon.)
Mom: (Takes the magazine, and flips through it, making sure I’m not reading some sort of crazy smut on the way home from Church…flips through it quickly and quietly)
Dad: “It’s like a cheap hotel, where you can rent rooms for short periods of time.”
Me: “Shorter than a night? Why would you want to?”
Dad: “To have a business meeting, or a party.”
Me: “Oh. Like a birthday party?”
Me: “Can I go to a brothel for my next birthday?”
Mom: (Mortified… but silent.)
Dad: “Nope, sorry. It’s in a bar, remember? No kids allowed in there. That’s a place people go when they can’t have a party at home.”
Me: “They let kids in Sloppy Joe’s to buy cokes!”
Dad: “That’s true, but it’s just a bar. If it had a brothel in it, you couldn’t go, trust me.”
Me: “Aw, Man….”
Dad: “Maybe we could have your birthday in an bowling ally, next year? I think you’d like that better, anyhow.”
Bro: “I wanna go bowling!”
Me: “I wanna go bowling, today!”
Mom: “Let’s go bowling!”
Dad: “Let’s go bowling!”
So, we went bowling that day, after we went home and changed clothes. Small place, six alleys and two pinball machines. Much fun was had.
I didn’t encounter the word again until I was in high school, and found out the whole truth about what it meant.
My dad there was just about my age now. I wonder if I could think on my feet that quickly and if my kid would be distracted by bowling.