Be Careful What You Wish For

I frequently walk home from work. I live just over a mile from my office and since I spend most of the day sitting I like to walk to and from to get a little blood flowing. I spent my walk today scanning the folks around me as usual, thinking that those who don't take advantage of people watching in the city are idiots. There is so much to see! So many kinds of people and I like to size up every one of them. Some judgment may or may not be involved.

I've never understood how people can walk down the street here as if they're in a bubble. I'm used to store line smalltalk, waves of thanks from drivers I've let into my lane, and eye contact with strangers on the street. People here bump into each other without saying anything, weave complicate patterns over-around-and-through one another at every corner crosswalk, and never for a second make eye contact with anyone. I'm still figuring out this phenomenon (and trying to avoid being caught gawking at everyone who passes me since meeting eyes is a big faux pas here).

So, back to today. I'm walking across the BP Bridge that connects Millennium and Grant Parks, covertly watching everyone around me. I may have been judging the girl walking around in navy blue leggings, high heels, big sunglasses and a screaming wedgie. Just a little. And for the billionth time I'm wondering why no one in this blasted city wants to look at anyone else when, all the sudden, the man candy coming up on my left registers.

Um, he is hot.

Holey jeans, just-ragged-enough-to-be-trendy t-shirt and lightly tanned with shoulder-blade-length dreds tied back in a pony tail. Mmmm. I'm sure he is a vegan smoker with a secret tattoo somewhere inappropriate.


And what does he see? A slightly overweight twentysomething huffing it over this bridge in dress pants and ugly tennis shoes, a light sheen of sweat covering her face and neck (nearing the end of the power walk here, okay?). And worst of all - most embarrassing of all - he passes just close enough that while I am feeling nauseous from near heatstroke, he's probably feeling nauseous because he can see my sweat mustache. Ugh. I put my head down and pass quickly.

Never again will I wish for people to look up at me while I'm out walking around the city, particularly not when it's any kind of warm or humid out. From now on, I'm an invisible bystander watching things silently. And invisibly.

I'll probably still judge a little, though.

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