Tag Archives: People-watching

The Wonder, Not the Worry

I like to people-watch. And not in a pervy, stalky way either. Get your head out of the gutter. OK maybe that was my head in the gutter.

I like to study how people interact with each other. Wonder what their story is. Listen to their conversations. Relish in their native accents. Imagine what it’s like in their world.

I don’t claim to be a professional people-watcher. I am not out in public every day. Some days I only leave the house to walk the dog. And lately I try to avoid the neighbors too because I don’t want to hear how my bike being parked under the car port is a community violation.

But I digress.

Today I was at a nail salon. I’ve been getting trimmed and buffed and shellacked and waxed there for over a year now. So I’ve become comfortable with the staff and the place. The owner’s 7-year-old daughter is usually there. She is an only child like my son and I like to see how she happily entertains herself when she’s not entertaining the customers. At one point she was staring out the window, singing to herself. Her little fairy-like voice flitting among the sounds of feet being scrubbed and the buzz of the nail buffer.

For a moment I was very envious of her. I wanted to trade places. To be in that child-like state of wonder again. To know Mom was just an arm’s length away. That a hot meal was eventually waiting for me, groddy peas and all.

Then my eyes began to dart over to a fiery woman in her seventies. Her sunset-colored nails were drying so she sat in front of another customer and they spoke about old bastard bosses and the bargain of online shopping. Her Long Island accent filled my ears with happiness. “Can somebahdy give me an excuse not ta go to tha supah mahket?” She asked the entire room as she stood up to leave. I laughed out loud. Only time I ever heard a Long Island accent growing up in the south was when I blissfully watched a Woody Allen flick.

Then there was the lady who was dutifully and a little militantly trimming my cuticles. Her hands were strong but her arms soft. I looked at my own arms, tanned from bike rides and tanning lotion. Toned like someone who has and takes the time to do push-ups and other crap that hurts like hell but feels good when it’s over. I wondered if the lady ever had time for herself. And if she did, what did she like to do? I imagined her strolling in a market, perhaps back in Vietnam, sun shining on her smiling face.

The little girl interrupted my day-dreaming.

“Let’s play rock, paper, scissors. Winner gets to do their favorite trick,” she said with a Chiclets-toothed smile.


Rock, paper, scissors, shoot.

We both drew scissors. Tie.

Rock, paper, scissors, shoot.

Her scissors cut my wimpy little paper.

She did a funny little dance.

“Nice trick.”

“Again,” she demanded.

Rock, paper, scissors, shoot.

My rock slammed her flimsy scissors.

I flared my nostrils as that is pretty much the only trick I could think of while having my nails poked at and my feet grated.

“Wow, how did you do that?” She was wildly impressed.

When they called me to go to the waxing room the little girl followed me. As the blonde Chewbacca fuzz was being ripped from my eyelid flesh she started examining my tattoos.

“Will this come off?” she asked in her fairy-voice as she stroked the quill tatt on my left arm.

“No. It’s permanent.”

“You have any more?”

I showed her the one on my right arm.

“What does it say?”

“It says ‘wonder not worry’. It reminds me to look at the world in wonder instead of worry. Like the wonder of a child.”

“Like me. Like I do,” she said sweetly. She hummed a little tune as she left the room.

I realized the 7-year-old understood what I meant. And I realized I had been taking my own tattoo-etched advice in those moments before.

I can still be that child with the faraway look in her eye, singing songs, playing games.

And with a few rips, some cold cream, and the diligent hands of a woman 9,600 miles away from her homeland, I can have some fuzz-free unfurrowed eyebrows, too.












Filed under Observations