I'm admittedly a lurker. I look through countless websites weekly, reading articles, comments, scoping out new pictures and posts, and very rarely do I actually make my presence known with the responses that are brewing in my mind. Maybe that's one of the reasons I started this blog to begin with. I'm an observer by nature, a big time people-watcher. (This is probably related to the melancholy I feel when I look into other's glowing windows on Thanksgiving evening--but that's entirely different post, I'm sure.) But getting that momentary glimpse into someone else's life when they pull back their curtain, leave their garage door open, or have that ridiculously loud phone call in public is intriguing.
In fact, people-watching is one of the only things that I like about big crowds. It's also one of the things I like more about the city then anywhere else around here. The people-watching is constant, endless, and very entertaining. People are nuts, and yes, I do lump myself in with that statement. I'm sure if my own conversations were taken completely out of context, I would seem crazy too. The sidewalks and buses are just rife with the satisfying tidbits of other peoples' lives. But even I have limits. Sometimes it's just too much. Case in point, I was talking to my good ol' pal Scrap Lazy yesterday via IM, and she was transcribing the fight that was taking place between the guy who lives next door to her and his girlfriend.
SL: Thhhhhank you, Ryan. Thank Youuuuu. (Her reenactment of the fight)
SL: I seriously hate her. (Her personal commentary on the situation)
And she seriously does, because this is this tenth time Scrap Lazy's had to listen to one of this upset girl's rants. Knowing the intimate issues of her neighbor's relationship isn't as exciting as it is annoying. I've hit this point with some neighbors of my own as well. The wooden floors so common in the city are gorgeous if you have them, and excruciatingly noisy if you live below them. The first time you hear your neighbors, uh, coupling (floor against bed posts, bed frame against wall, steady, rhythmic) at 9:15 on Tuesday night, it’s funny. The second time it’s gross. The third, it’s just annoying, and every time after that, well, it’s just too much information.
I find myself suddenly wondering things about them that I know I shouldn’t: Is it more then just once a week? Is it always at the same time? Is THAT normal? And every time I see them I find myself wanting to blurt it out, “9:15 on Tuesdays.” It’s so wrong. I’ve been taken too far into their world. They’ve pulled back the curtain, but it’s gotten stuck like that. Now instead of enjoying the momentary fascination with their life, I’m caught up in it. It’s the kind of people-watching that’s just not fun anymore. It leaves nothing, literally zero, to the imagination. I can’t make bitter assumptions and judgments like I usually do. I have to remember that even though they have loud, painfully boring sex above my room, they still let me park my car in driveway when I can’t find parking.
The city’s taught me a lot about people. The biggest lesson learned? That there is a certain group of people that fall somewhere between stranger and acquaintance: neighbors. Beware. They city is crawling with them, and they take all the fun out of feeling anonymous.