PEOPLE WATCHING


As an artist, I am a people watcher.  I may not remember your name, but I will always remember your face.  I remember a woman I never met who was sitting on the  front steps of an apartment building ten years ago.  She was a black woman wearing a bright dashiki and a colorful scarf around her head.  I longed to paint her, but I was caught in  traffic, and late for an appointment.  Her expression while watching the traffic going by her apartment building was sad, and I imagined various  reasons for her pensive gaze.

There are numerous faces which often flit through my mind.  I watch and mentally sketch the contours of their faces and bodies, or draw them in air or on the tale with a finger.  Sometimes  I form the images of faces in the patterns which pop up in carpets or even floors.  Crazy.  Even crazier is when I try to find them again the next day, and they have gone.

This morning in Starbuck’s while waiting in line for morning coffee, I studied the people around me.  There was the man from Lebanon who learns English by working the crossword puzzles.  He is there whenever we go in.  A row of people working on their Apple computers were lined up against one wall.   A table of three 10-11 year old girls were giggling away with their large sized whipped cream fancies.  Mean-spirited as I am and as a former teacher, I wondered why they weren’t in school!  (And as a frugal mother, I wondered where they got all that money!)

There were the old couple in the corner on the soft chairs reading the New York Times.  And just where did all these very tall, very thin and knock out beautiful girls in tight designer jeans and  boots with skyscraper heels come from?  Busy people, rushing to get to work, flash in and out with their mid-morning caffeine fix,  while a couple,  obviously not married, were chatting it up.  He, perhaps in a mid-life crisis, leaning too hopefully toward her while she, half his age,was looking a bit doubtful about the whole thing.

A microcosm of coffee shop life, repeating itself daily, and always fascinating to a people watcher.  Where do they go, what is their job, what are their problems, what is their life?

Then suddenly, it was my turn at the counter and the barista knows well what my order will be:  a vente caramel latte, whole milk, extra whipped cream and extra caramel on top.    Oh, and a tall coffee for Dr. Advice.