Watch Out!

How will the parent of a screaming two-year-old handle the situation?


How about the sight of too much flesh crammed into a pair of too-tight jeans? And what about the young woman and a dude at least twice her age walking with arms around each other’s waist?


All those sights and all those questions await the sideshow that defines people watching. Visit any public place and the entertainment is free of charge and yours to enjoy. And go ahead and be as silently judgmental as you want. 


I enjoy doing just that, especially at Clearwater malls. My favorite for this purpose is the Westfield Countryside Mall off U.S. 19.


While there I often take in a movie, grab a bite at the food court and browse the shops.


But I also find time to plop down in one of the seated public areas while slurping an ice cream and inconspicuously ogle at the passersby. I say inconspicuously because the last thing I want is leer at people and come across as a creepy voyeur. 


And so it was on a recent Saturday that my heart lurched at the good fortune of finding a parking space near an upper-floor entrance to the two-tiered mall. I bought a giant peanut butter cookie and a mango smoothie, perched myself at a hallway table and took in the steady procession of mall goers. 


Several stood out almost immediately. One gal – let’s call her Tawdry Hipburn – seemed quite blasé about her skin peeling in layers from too much beach bathing. She exhibited a pair of shorts stretched to the bursting point and a blouse the sheerness of hummingbird wings. I had no doubt she would soon be escorted out of the mall courtesy of a security guard.


A fellow – let’s call him Jim Ripples – sported a t-shirt cut so short you could count the eight washboard abs. His biceps were Schwarzenegger-like and shoulders wider than Duval Street. This fellow is, well, you know the tune: You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim. 


As always, the beautiful people stole the show: Lovely women with perfect figures in color-matching togs and Adonis-like men clad in fashionable attire. It’s just plain fun admiring lovers holding hands, families with kids prancing about, people chatting amiably or that infectious mall energy that puts a smile on your face. 


Another dynamite people-watcher venue is Pier 60.


Here streams a variety of acrobatic street performers, animals doing improbable tricks, dapper dudes in pirate outfits posing for pictures, musicians belting out tunes, and just enjoying the gentle salt breeze caressing your face.


To be fair, I probably make for a source of amusement to other people. Perhaps because of a body shape reminiscent of a manatee and a face made for radio adds to that, not to mention a penchant for drinking water from a hose and eating lettuce wraps.


And that’s okay with me, as all that comes into view is fair game for people watching. 



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