I'd have a gold medal.
My mom said that when I was a baby I would stare at people so hard in the grocery store that they would get that paranoid feeling and turn around to find the stalker. I am sure they were soon comforted when they realized they were not in harm as it was just an innocent bald-headed baby checking them out. However, I wouldn't be surprised if their new found ease was soon replaced with uncomfortableness when I continued to stare blank face.
Twenty something years later I am still staring. People are just bizarre. And they do bizarre things. And dumb things. And things where they hurt themselves. And for some reason (I blame it on being raised on The Three Stooges), I find it hilarious when people hurt themselves (not badly, just enough to curse loudly or cry a tear or two). This little thrill of mine ties in nicely with my pastime of people watching.
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to enjoy some laughter at the expense of another. My parents and I were at the final Harry Potter movie (which is a whole other bundle of confusing emotions within itself- last HP... I've known these kids practically their whole life... they are so old... wait that means I am so old) and because the theater was so packed, we had to sit in the handicap row in the front. (Before all of you ethical people get all up in arms I would like to say that we were not stealing the seats from people in wheel chairs and their dates- there was no one in the theater that specifically needed those seats. It was not like that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry uses the handicap bathroom and all hell breaks loose).
There were about five seats on our row and the other two were taken, as well. The one closest to me (but actually about 8 feet away) was taken by a kid probably in his late teens. About half way through the movie, a woman got up to go to the bathroom and as she walked by the kid, she tripped over his feet and fell. Like a tree. She fell hard. She didn't put her hands out to stop her or anything. The kid bent over to apologize and she angrily brushed him off and pretended like she was OK (which is the appropriate response when you bust your ass in front of a bunch of strangers). I tried hard to concentrate on the elder wand drama on the screen in front of me, but all I could think about is how that woman fell like a muggle trying to learn quidditch. I suppressed a smile and finally got back into the movie.
When we left the movie, I was all giggles when I brought it up to my parents. My Dad was not fortunate enough to witness it but my Mom was. She agreed- that lady fell hard*. It was then that I realized that the last two times I went to the movies with my parents, I got to watch more than the movie--- I got to people watch. I don't know what magic is at work that makes this true, but this realization made me want to pull them back into the theater just to see someone else do something stupid.
My dad and I got to witness a great Three Stooges move one time when we were leaving the theater. We had gone to see something that my Mom was not interested in (probably Lord of the Rings or some other badass sci-fi middle earth type production) and when the show was over, we started slowly shuffling out of the theater. As we reached the aisle we watched a kid (no surprise here- boy in early teens) decide that he was not in the mood to wait for everyone else to make it down the steps- he had places to go and people to see. So he took it upon himself to cut everyone in front of him. By hopping over the side of the stairs. What this idiot did not think about before he did this was the ramp at the bottom of the stairs leading out of the theater is a downward incline. So while it looked like he was only three or four feet up (if the stairs were on a flat surface)- the ramp added another drop. We heard a big "mmmmmphhhh" as he hit the ramp six feet below. Dumbass.
Our other glorious people watching movie moment happened when we went to see The Forty Year Old Virgin. My parents and I were settled in our seats near the top of the theater waiting for the movie to start. In this theater, the stairs at the top get wider and there is a rail in the middle of the stairs that starts about two thirds of the way up to divide the seating on the side from the seating in the middle. A group of ladies were making their way up the stairs at the exact time that the lights went down. One of the women had not scoped out the area she was walking into and walked straight into the metal rail. Square in the crotch. As the rail reverberated, her friends broke out in loud laughter and she repeatedly yelled "SHIT" through gritted teeth. It was wonderful.
I can only hope that I get to experience such great acts of humanity in my future movie adventures with my parents.
*When I was telling a friend about the woman falling like a tree, they responded that it was dark so she probably couldn't see to put her hands down. This logic cracked me up. Like when it is dark- your body does not react the same- so don't expect your involuntary bodily reactions designed to protect yourself to kick in when the lights are a little low. It's just not going to happen.