Dec 07, 2011 0 Share

Street Drama


People crossing city street at dusk.
iStockphoto

Friday night, open recreation area easily accessible to and visible from street corner. 

I sit down with a free newspaper on a concrete ledge near the corner. A mixed group of young people gathered around nearby. 

Good thing I'm reading something. People think a lot better of someone sitting by himself if he's reading. Some people figure if you sit around alone not doing anything, you're spying on them. 

Also, be careful. With both sexes here, who knows if some guy is going to jump to conclusions and get jealous or protective? Good thing I always wear my wedding band. 

Two guys stand next to each other, touching. One of them, wearing a dress shirt and tie, holds out a digital camera, facing them, as far away as his arm will reach, and snaps a picture of them both. 

A nearby girl mentions Facebook. 

So they're technically with it. Well, no duh—these days pretty much anybody old enough to be out at night and young enough not to be in a nursing home knows about digital cameras, Facebook, and for that matter probably iPads and Google+ too. 

Dress Shirt & Tie Guy makes a gesture with his hand in front of his hips ... and that's as far as I'll describe it for a family site. 

Stay classy, DS&T Guy. 

Another guy looks directly at me. I make eye contact with him and nod briefly, a form of casual greeting without inviting conversation: Hey, I'm OK, You're OK, enjoy the rest of your evening. He looks away and then goes on to something else. 

There's a few new crusts of what looks like bread on the sidewalk, probably from sandwiches they just got. A girl in a black leather jacket tells another girl to eat one. Not yelling at her, but not lighthearted like it's a joke. The second girl picks up a crust and eats part of it. 

DS&T Guy starts up a remote-controlled toy car and sends it after a few people at the corner waiting for the light to change. They have to watch to make sure they don't trip on his car. 

Isn't he just the charmer? 

Toy car goes toward a group including Crust-Eating Girl. She bends down to pick it up. Black Leather Jacket Girl tells her to stop—which she does. 

Looks like BLJ Girl is dominant—at least with respect (if that is the term) to C-E Girl. 

Toy car now goes toward a vendor. He turns around to face toy car, brings up one leg behind him—then puts it back down and grins slightly at DS&T Guy. 

Obviously he was kidding about kicking the toy car, and wants DS&T Guy to know it. Maybe he was subtly politely warning DS&T Guy to keep it away from his cart? 

Toy car does not go near cart again. 

Look Guy is looking at me again. Again, I look and nod at him. When he doesn't look away right away I do so—horizontally. 

Don't get into a staring contest—who knows how he might interpret it? Also, when looking away, do so horizontally—level to where his eyes were. Don't look down, because that could be taken as submissive. Don't look up, because that could be taken as snobbish. The whole idea is not to challenge him, but let him know I consider him an equal. 

Also, do it normally, not suddenly, so he won't think I'm afraid or have something to hide. 

It works. Look Guy goes on to something else. 

Odds are he's not challenging me, just making sure I'm not up to no good. 

After a few minutes, I read a bit more out of the newspaper. When I look up again, the group is gone. I finish reading, then fold it up, walk away and put it back into bin for someone else to read.