Friday, March 14, 2008

Inspiration: Fingernails & burritos

Granted, the post title could be a messy combination, but it is/was completely innocent.

I was driving to work Friday morning - how I loathe the commute - and took the opportunity to engage in some clandestine people watching.

Staring at people from the inside of a car is an art. You're sitting in your metal box with wheels - and they're sitting inside theirs. When you're stopped at one of the traffic lights that litter this part of suburbia like politician's lies in the run-up to Election Day, the last thing you really want to do is have someone actually NOTICE you staring at them.

The art of a good traffic stop stare is to watch the action, but also to watch for subtle moment when they "know" they're being watched, and just at that moment shift your gaze to look "past" the person. You need to be able to wordlessly communicate the fact that you weren't staring at them, you were calmly listening to music, staring off into space, dreaming behind the wheel.

Of course, they probably know that you've just been staring at them, but they've got no proof - and unless they're packing, there is precious little they can do about it, short of getting out of the car and making a scene the likes of which Russell Crowe would enjoying throwing phones in.

One word of advice: Never give a good stare at someone likely to be packing. This includes vehicles displaying NRA bumper stickers, Confederate flags bumper stickers and anything with a W '04 sticker left over from Bush vs. Kerry. People who vote Republican are crazy.

What's the point of all this? Sometimes you capture more beautiful slice-of-life action in the ten seconds you're stopped at a traffic light than you do all week on CBS. Particularly if you're watching "Two and a Half Men."

I was gridlocked at the intersection of two major cross streets this morning, when a beat-up sable Acura Vigor careened from four lanes over into the left turn lane trying to catch the arrow and get onto the road headed for downtown.

In the car were three Hispanic women, obviously lively for this time of the morning when I wished I could crawl back into bed. They were eating what I can only believe to be takeout breakfast burritos from a really odd Mexican/Chinese storefront takeout in the shopping plaza they just pulled out from.

I don't know who they were, or where they were going, but it was just a perfect scene of three friends laughing, eating and enjoying their free time in the moments before they headed off to some hopefully not too soul-deadening job.

I didn't get too good a look at the driver, but the car was stopped in traffic long enough for me to get a good read on the woman in the passenger seat and in the back seat.

Passenger seat had that fiery red-black hair that looks so beautiful on some women. It was done up in big curls and had a lively bounce. She was half turned in the seat to talk to the woman in the back, and chomping on a burrito and swigging from a bottle of Dasani. Her nails were this ruby shade of enamel polish, and she had a set of talons on her. She's probably a hell of a lover, a fighter and wears her emotions on her sleeve.

Back seat looked like she was rushing to finish her burrito, taking big bites and holding her hand over her mouth not to laugh too hard and spew food everywhere. She would laugh and her ebony curls would bounce all over the place. She had nails too, but she had green - almost the color of emeralds - polish on.

No one in the car knew I was staring, and I doubt they would have cared. It was a beautiful scene - and over all too quickly.

Traffic kept moving, the driver handed the woman in the passenger seat the water bottle back and the car shot forward like the women were late for an appointment with God - or a timeclock.



spleeness said...

wow, nicely described. Felt like I was there with you seeing those women enjoying their burritos.

Anonymous said...

Actually, pookykins, if you want to watch people in the car, here's a tip. Wear sunglasses and watch the people behind you in the rear-view. Your mirror should be set correctly so that you get a clear shot of the entire goings-on without having to turn your head. And since you're wearing sunglasses and can really see into your mirror too well, they'll never know you're watching them.

I've caught so many nose-pickers that way.

Anonymous said...

... and *they can't* really see into your mirror too well...

Glen said...

That was really nice. Great slice of life moment, wonderfully captured.

Anonymous said...

You do slice of life really well. You should check out for another blogger who transitioned from blogging about working for morons to blogging about life. And in Florida, just for extra inspiration! Hope you feel better soon.

Anonymous said...

Bravo--liked it!

Anonymous said...

Every once in a while I catch people being themselves when they don't know someone is watching. And it's nice to see in their idle moments that other people are just somebody like me. Nice post.

equine_05 said...

I liked this entry. I looked like an idiot laughing at my computer screen.

Anonymous said...

Did I miss the move? I haven't seen any new entries and really miss your wit. Is there a new blog since I've been computerless?