While I don’t always love to be in a crowd, I love to linger at its edge. Just outside of the activity bubble, I can observe people without interfering in their stuff. I do my best people-watching here, preferably with some paper and a pen. Wine’s always nice, too.
I take notes on what people do with their arms, the way they respond to whispers, how they react to an unexpected touch. My favorite places are where people are doing something routine: eating, gassing up the car, waiting for their flight to be called at the airport. Uneventful occasions where we tend to think we’re alone.
Occasionally, I get more than I anticipate. Intimacy that should be behind a closed door. An argument that seems especially painful. Or someone who seems completely untethered.
Once, I was able to help out someone. I was cruising the mall on Halloween with my son who was about two. Kids lined the place because they were giving out candy. I happened to notice a woman and her young son, who was maybe four years old. I don’t remember if he wore a costume or why I noticed them. Maybe because it was another mother with her son at an age I’d yet to experience.
Sometime later, I saw the same little boy hanging out with a security guard. The kid wasn’t stressed, but they were obviously waiting for Mom to appear.
In another little while, I saw the mother, scanning the ground as if searching for a lost diamond. The agony on her face told me all I needed to know. I stopped her. “Ma’am, your son is with a security guard, that way.” I pointed in the direction and relief rippled through her. She stood upright and hauled panty-hose toward her son.
It was a good moment. And it actually made up for a few of the red light nose-pickers.
P. S. 3 LIES is on sale for .99¢ through 5/31. Kindle ~ Nook ~ iBooks (make sure price has changed at iBooks, first)