Sunday, March 14, 2010

People Watching

We have family in town, which reminds me that we need to have better words for describing family members in English. For instance, there needs to be a word that covers both genders of sibling offspring. Right now all we can say is "nieces and nephews," but I want just one word that works like "siblings," to cover both because it is awkward to say "niece and nephews" or "nephews and niece," but that is what I have. Try it, the mix of singular and plural is weird. It just is.

In my family, on my mom's side, we've invented our own way of referring to multi-generational cousins. Our cousins' kids call our generation "Uncle/Aunt-cousins," so I'm Aunt-cousin Anna to them. I think there's a proper term like second-cousin once removed or something, but I like our way better.

Right now the family in town is John's cousin, her son and her mom. So I've been saying "our cousins," which is kindof true, but doesn't accurately depict who is here. Totally not what this blog is about, but there you have it.

We went to the Air and Space Museum on the national mall yesterday, and though this is probably my favorite museum, I had just been there last summer and know I will be taking my sister's family through it this summer (they haven't said they're for sure coming, but if I put it in my blog, they have to). So I chose to sit and watch people, which was by far my favorite thing of the day. Here are three stories from that time.

Tripping teenagers
One knelt down to tie his shoe in the middle of the wide, busy hall. Another teen appeared to trip over him, causing them both to sprawl in everybody's way. Some people showed concerned, but in typical DC fashion, most people just kept to themselves. As the boys were picking themselves up, I noticed a third teen directly across from them filming them on a camera phone. The other two went over to him, seemingly pleased with their stunt, and took off for another part of the museum. About 30 minutes later, they all returned and took their places, but something changed their minds and they left again. I was a little disappointed since I wanted to see if they had improved their act or would get a different reaction.

Severed foot lady
Three women sat on the bench next to me and the oldest one began to tell the others that the reason she needed to rest was that she couldn't be on her feet for very long. And the reason for that is because her right foot was severed from her leg in a car accident when she was 15. According to her, her brother had been with her at the time of the accident and picked up her foot and brought it to the hospital so they could reattach it. After that she was in a wheelchair for 2 years, and when the doctor finally told her she'd never walk again, she picked up crutches and started walking. She proceeded to talk about how much her brothers had meant to her and how they are all dead now (and told how each died). Her story was mostly terrifying and slightly depressing. I was glad for many reasons that she was able to get up and walk away!

After the severed-foot lady and her friends left, a family sat down who had a set of boy-girl twins that looked to be about 9 months old. They were so cute and I wanted to play with them, but made myself content to just watch out of the corner of my eye. I have identical twin nephews and my sister says one of the most annoying things people ask if is they're twins. I'm sure it's just an opening line because people don't know what else to ask, but with hers it's pretty obvious. This set at the museum could've been cousins or the children of friends just hanging out, so I was interested to see how long it took for someone to walk by and ask. Didn't take long! I always wonder if people who look older than me with little babies, especially multiples, had "help" with a fertility treatment, but of course, I'll never ask that!

I don't know if reading this blog makes you a double-voyeur or a voyeur squared or a second voyeur once removed, but I hope it entertained you!

Have you observed any fun or interesting stories by watching people lately? Do you have any good ideas for new family-related words? Also, don't forget that I'm starting an advice column, so ask me something you need advice about. I have one good question so far, but I need at least two, because that's how Dear Abby does it.


  1. Loved this post!! I bet you could totally find the video on youtube if you just put in a couple key words from today. People ask me if my kids are twins all the time...and to me they don't even look alike!!

  2. Ha!! We people watch all the time. It's one of our favorite "dates." :D We just call everyone aunt and uncle regardless of the relation :D

  3. Good for you, for not asking annoying questions :). Here is what I have started doing when I see people that I think are twins, I will ask the parents, "how old are they?" this is safe because if they are twins then you will find out without having asked an obvious questions, and while I do love to talk about my babies, I don't like answering obvious questions.
    I did get asked for the first time the other day if I had any "help" to get mine. Mine are ID so that should answer that question right there...and just so long as you NEVER ask if Boy/girl twins are ID :).

  4. Those are hilarious stories! You were lucky you sat next to such different people! :) I like people- watching too! When Jason and I go out to eat, I catch myself staring at other people instead of talking to him! That's horrible. Ha!

  5. Why wouldn't you ask if they had help? What is the line that you might be crossing to do so? With the different ways to arrive, what is the harm in asking?
    I like watching people too, but for some reason people are always looking at me.....


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