I’m a people watcher. I always have been, since I was yoing and I would give my mother fits when we went out in public. Because not only did I watch people back then, but I also gave them names and loudly called them by their “names.”
Before you think that I took pleasure in torturing my poor mother, I reasoned it all out. We weren’t supposed to talk to strangers, so if I knew their names they weren’t technically strangers anymore. I left out the part where I didn’t really know their names, but that was all semantics anyway, right?
Then, as I grew older, the game grew to making up backstories for every new person I came in contact with, and that was quite a hoot too. I would see two people talking and they became Brad and Amy, recently divorced couple who still slept together to cure the loneliness they themselves had caused.
These stories would have been just fine had they stayed in my vast imagination, but, alas, I had to share them or I would burst into a million pieces! And, unfortunately, I had no volume control back then, so if I said it everybody heard it, including the people I was watching.
I’ve learned since to keep my people watching to myself, or at least to my writing. Now, when I’m around people I find interesting I pull out my phone and type down their life story instead of saying it out loud and embarrassing the people I’m with. Some of these life stories turn into wonderful beginnings to short fiction.
And every once in a while I put myself into the stories, the man who sat on the bench across from them and listened while they spoke.