Sometimes I worry I stare at people too much. It’s not even staring really, it’s more like picking a random person, keeping your eyes on them, and then falling into a daydream, or what I like to call zoning out.
Senior year of college.
Today I’m in Union Square – waiting for one thing or the other. Across from me is an older man, mid 50’s, dirty, and eating a sandwich that looks like it was recently picked out of a trash can. It’s 90 degrees out.
So I’m staring at this guy, probably being a little more obvious than I should, when all of a sudden he looks back at me, lets a drop of thick mayonnaise fall from his lower lip, and says:
Now obviously, I want to look away. I should look away - but I don’t. I just blink a few times while making a conscious effort to keep my eyes steady and firm. Because you know what? Fuck this guy. Really. Why can’t people stare at each other every once in a while? What’s the big deal? Now I understand you may not want someone ogling/ eye fucking you, but what’s wrong with zoning out towards someone? Harmless stuff.
So I blink a few more times, tapping into something deep inside of me, and I stare forth at the presumed homeless man. And this is when things get a bit silly...For whatever reason I now find it appropriate to pucker my lips. Not sexy like, but in a way an old lady would right before she kisses a toddler and grabs hold of their cheeks. I’m laying it on pretty thick too, and let me tell you, this guy does NOT know what to make of this...I'm not really sure either.
But what’s done is done, and now I have to commit to the fact that I’ve been staring at this guy for over five minutes and then proceeded to make gestures that can easily be construed as sexual.
I should have just read a book.
So the guy slowly stands, letting more sandwich bits fall to the ground, a feast for the pigeons, and he walks off, not even hinting that he wants to leave a response behind – and I was looking.
It’s 90 degrees out; maybe even hotter by now. I’m covered in sweat, thirsty, and now realizing there’s more gray area between ogling and zoning out than meets the eye.