Societal Thinking

I am such a curmudgeon.

Thinks I have thinked over the past week of thinking:

1. Kid, are you even old enough to buy cigarettes?

2. Do you ever take a break or are your lips permanently attached to her face?

3. This is your trash. Put on your big boy panties and toss it in the recycling like a responsible adult.

Any day now, I’m going to start yelling at college students to get off my lawn.

The thing about city life is that there are people everywhere. You can’t get away from them on the street, on the train. You can do your best to ignore them but they’re always there.

Cranky-old-biddy that I am, though, there are plenty of times that I fall madly in love with the ridiculous strangers around me.

There is the Stop-the-Afghan-War guy who plants himself directly in front of the crosswalk every day, rain or shine, who usually sparks vague irritation in me as I swerve around him. Yesterday, he left his post to help two extremely confused tourists dragging large suitcases. As I passed them, he was giving detailed directions to their hotel. “And enjoy your stay in Boston,” he said, with more vigor and enthusiasm than I’ve ever heard him say, “Bring them home.”

There were the small children on the subway who were being loud and exuberant not because they were fighting or climbing all over things but because they were sneak-attacking each other with kisses and erupting into squeals and giggles. Many an uncaffeinated glare melted into a soft smile amongst the commuters that morning.

There was the man who strolled into the park with his terrier at a sedate pace only to cluck at his dog and send it dashing about. He dashed along with it, following just behind, pulling himself up short every time the dog paused and taking off like a maniac as soon as the dog had stretched the leash to fullness. Up the hill, down the path, over the rocks, around the sunbathers. It was both adorable and glorious.

I make no secret of the fact that I am, internally, an 80-year-old woman. My idea of a great night out is going to a friend’s house to knit. I’m likely to fall asleep on the couch before 9. I do not suffer fools gladly and I am brutally opinionated about the world around me. Happily, though, I find my snarkiness is often mitigated by the sheer delight I get from watching my fellow humans.

My goal in life is to reach an actual age of 80 with that same sense of delight. I’ll undoubtedly still think that some people need to be forcibly re-educated in the concept of public versus private behavior or that some people should on no account be allowed to contribute to the gene pool. As long as I still smile when I see a child chasing a pigeon in the Common, as long as I still chase pigeons in the Common, I’ll consider that a spectacular win.

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