People-watching notes that everyone will understand

Holy shit, it’s June. HALF THE YEAR HAS ESCAPED. I have a lot of beer-drinking to catch up on.

Fortunately, I am about to go to Amsterdam, which is home to some pretty old beer. I don’t know if “old” is the way to go here, but sometimes you need to try new things, right? But seriously, there is great beer in Amsterdam, and it will be stuff I can’t get here. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Other than that, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t done all that much “awesome” stuff in the last month. I’ve been travelling a ton for work, which (to be fair) has resulted in a few great experiences (an excellent cocktail bar in Boston, a wonderful beer bar/gastropub in Madison). But mostly, I’ve been working, and when I haven’t been working, I’ve been sleeping. (Or I’ve been drinking fruit-beer floats at my friend Rachel’s house in the Wisconsin countryside, which was actually pretty awesome.)

But overall, I’ve been neglecting my drinking/eating/writing duties. And for that, I am sorry.

Tonight I decided it was time to start being cool again. (Also, I need to start training for Amsterdam. I am horribly unprepared.)

I am sitting at my favorite neighborhood bar, Hopvine. I started by writing a little bit for my freelance job, and then I got distracted by people-watching. And I suddenly realized that I have seen all of this before.

People-watching is fun because every human being is different, and therefore, every human interaction is different. But I suddenly realized, sitting here alone and tipsy, that my brain is automatically labeling these cinema-like experiences and putting them into groups based on things I’ve seen before. For example:

–The friends who haven’t seen each other in ages even though they live in the same city

–The chill dude who comes here often because it’s his favorite bar, but this time he brought his dad, and he’s super excited about it but also a little bit embarrassed

–The old guy sitting by himself reading the paper and enjoying a brew

–The 30-year-old guy sitting by himself watching the game

–The girl sitting by herself working on her laptop (homework? work? what?) — NOTE: This is probably what I am to everyone else

–The young professionals on a double date (always a fan favorite)

–The old couple on a date (i.e. not married, just on a date) – this is my FAVORITE thing and incredibly adorable (also pretty rare, so you should be excited when you witness it)

–The girlfriends catching up (with the inevitable “So I guess I’m dating him now” conversation and the whole “Is that a good thing?” follow-up question)

–The guy alone at the bar who is friends with the bartender

–The guy alone at the bar because he likes the beer here

–The guy alone at the bar because he actually doesn’t know what else to do with himself

And so on.

(These could easily be “the girl alone at the bar” but I am actually just recording what I see right now. So don’t freak out, I’m not sexist. I (girl) am currently alone at a bar too.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to “label” these people. In fact, I feel I am doing the opposite. I might be equating my personal impression of their behavior with something I have seen before, but I am in no way trying to label their character. In fact, despite having overheard some very personal conversations, I still don’t think I know anything about these people. And that, to me, is part of the fun.

Watching a single person is entertaining in its own right. Watching two or more humans interact, however, is a full-on show! And again, I’m not making a spectacle out of other humans here. Instead, I am sitting quietly behind my screen (so to other people I’m probably a loser…or a writer, which would be SUPER cool if people believed that) and I’m just observing their behavior.

My point is, humans are cool.

So yeah. That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope you will ponder it briefly, or at least consider it next time you’re at a bar alone. Because I truly believe that people-watching doesn’t need to be judgmental. It can merely be a form of private entertainment derived solely from the coolness of other humans. And that is a pretty cool thing.

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