Saturday, June 8, 2013

Inventing Stories: People Watching Cubed

I just got back from a business trip to Santa Monica, where I was on my own most evenings. On the way to the airport my limo driver had recommended I try the King's Head Pub on Santa Monica Boulevard, so one evening I went there for dinner and a beer.

It's a great location with outdoor seating, and I totally enjoyed kicking back with a beer. The food was awful, but I also know I hate British 'cuisine' pretty much across the board so I didn't expect I would like it. The beer was good enough for this non-beer drinker to order a second and people watch.

Something I used to do a long time ago while people watching was to let my imagination run wild and invent stories about people that passed by. Lots of people's look and bearing just inspires it. I found myself doing this.

One woman wandered by, looking disoriented and kind of messed up. I imagined she had lived her whole life in the shadow of a controlling and/or cruel person. Someone who always undermined her self-esteem. This person had died five hours ago, leaving her free to be herself and live her own life for the first time. She was shocked and confused by the freedom of running her own life and had gone outside to walk, trying to wrap her mind around it. Lost in thought, she is pure potential...either for good or for evil...

I saw a man about my age park his car. He wore a yamaka, had a heavy briefcase, and looked tired and worn out. Hard, hard day. I imagined he had existed very predictably like this for years, working hard and coming home every day. Today, however, when he got home something dire would be waiting for him. Not sure what, but whatever it was it would force his life into a completely new and difficult direction. Destiny was about to take control of him like a tornado. He would lose his job, many of his friends, etc. Months or maybe even a year from now, he would emerge from it with a new life and as a completely different and happier person.

Two young guys with wire thin bodies and huge afros walked by. They were just arriving in California after hitch hiking from where they grew up in Oklahoma (or some place like that). They were musicians and they were here to make their fortune. Their music is something innovative in mixing genres, and they will achieve a following of note but never quite take off into 'star' territory. However, they will influence a lot of people and end owning the 'it' music club in Los Angeles. Always cool and sought after, even into their seventies. Their tell-all memoirs will be a 'must read'.

A couple walked by. He had a dorky/ex-con look with weird tattoos, and she was goofy in a hippie kind of way. They were walking with their arms around each other. I imagined that they were both really inept at life, disorganized, and often getting into trouble with the law. They could never quite get their lives together and be happy, but they had each other and understood each other. Despite the fact they would probably always be unhappy on some level and that each of their families hoped for nothing more than they'd break up with the other person, they had that core of their life which made it possible to deal with anything.

I don't know how many people I did this around. It seemed like over twenty. I was there forever, and it made me happy to resurrect this little game. It could be the theme for an anthology of short stories or something like that.

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