Friday, January 26, 2007
Some words about other people
I'm a bit of a voyeur...only without the "derives sexual pleasure" part of the definition. I (maybe!) shouldn't use that word. (but did you know that is literally no word other than spy that describes the insistent need to observe people in a close and intimate manner? and who wants to be a spy? that's freaky.) I cannot stop watching people and inferring things about them. It is such a part of my personhood that I wouldn't be me if I wasn't a nosey lady. Yep. Wouldn't. Be. Me.

It started in college when I would eavesdrop on conversations at restaurants. Then I started forcing my friends to do it. So we would go out to eat with each other but only talk about/listen to/observe everyone else. And then we would judge them. Obviously.

Today, my need manifests itself in all sorts of good, techno, 2007, normal ways. I read people's blogs...look at their Facebook memoirs and published journals (but I don't do Myspace. Because Myspace? Myspace is where pedophiles go).

My need also manifests itself than good ways. And by less than good, I mean inappropriate. Grossly.

Example 1- Drew and I have fallen in love with this cute neighborhood in Athens that is the perfect blend of hippy and bourgeois (just like us!). We drive around and pick out houses for ourselves and our friends. We envision ourselves reading the paper on "our" porch and hiring someone to do our yard work. Its lovely. But lately I have become a tad too interested in one of the houses. It has this perfect little office with no shades on the windows. It is a beautiful robin egg blue, lined with bookshelves that are just the right amount disorganized as to suggest that the books are well-used and the owner was just a little bit too into her writing to take the time to arrange the book properly.

But what does she write in there? What are the titles of the books? I wonder if she is a professor...Is that a roll-top desk? Cute!

Luckily there is a large speed bump right in front of the house, so I have an excuse to go veeeery slowly as I pass by. And it isn't even that I want that office to be my office....I just want to know every single detail about that person's office.

Example 2- Every Wednesday I go to this coffee shop. I go because lots of people from our department hang out there and because Wednesdays are $2 latte day. $2 for any size! The crowd is awesome. Everyone is tied to the university...lots of reading...typing...the art students hang out there so there is drawing. I almost expect the revolution to start at any minute. But, um, I also go because over the past few months, I have become (borderline)obsessed with this older couple--who are so heartbreakingly beautiful that I want to sit at their table and squeeze their hands...and send them fruit baskets at Christmas. But I don't go over to their table. I watch them from my table. And I see the old man take out his knife (i know! weird!) every day...and he places it beside his tea. And recently I've noticed that he uses it to cut little pieces of cookie for himself and his wife. And he uses it carefully to cut out articles from the newspaper to pass to his wife--including the crossword puzzle which they take turns filling in. I can't listen to them; they never speak. Ever. But they know what to do. I love it. I love them. I love them so much that this Wednesday they were late. Really late. And I got all this anxiety because I thought maybe something had happened to them. But they came in and I smiled at them and returned to my work.

I guess I could say that I do these things because I am a social scientist...and I study communication. Which I do. But I study politics...not nonverbal communication or even interpersonal relationships.

I justify it by saying...I put myself out there, too. I have a blog. I have pictures on the Internet. And I really, really hope that I have the type of office that people will stare into when they drive past my house. And I really, really, really(!) hope that I am an interesting enough person that people observe me.



Blogger Kourtney said...

Wait...You don't want to be a spy but you would label yourself a voyeur?? hmmm not sure that makes you come out on top there...

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