Cafe stories – staring.

Photo credit: http://www.tofugu.com
Photo credit: http://www.tofugu.com

As is probably evident by my many café stories posts, I frequent cafes often. And most of the time I go alone. I’m confortable going to a café and having coffee and a meal alone. I get to just sit back with my coffee and either write, read or observe people. And one of the things I observe is that people stare. A lot.

Sometimes it’s obvious why people are staring at someone; they look different to everyone else, or they are talking loudly or acting in a way that draws attention. Some people stare because they are fascinated by the fact that someone is dining alone in a café or restaurant. I once had a lady that looked absolutely appalled when I sat down in a café and pulled out my laptop and notepad to do some study. She kept looking from me to the laptop with a look of pure horror, as if I had placed a muddy piglet on the table instead of a laptop. I remember being thrown by her reaction because, from what I see when I go out, lots of people do their work in a café while they are eating. Go figure. Some people stare because they like what someone is wearing or they find the person attractive (I will reluctantly admit that I got busted starting at a cute boy in a café once).

However sometimes, it’s not really clear why someone is so fascinated with someone and continues to stare at them. The other day I went to a café to sit and do some writing and when i arrived I did just that: sat, ordered a coffee, took out my notepad and started to write. Pretty quickly I could feel eyes on me, so I looked up and noticed this table with a few people on it and one of the ladies was staring at me. As soon as she noticed me looking back, she turned away, but each time after that when I looked up, I would catch her staring at me and quickly look away. She never smiled; she just stared with a somewhat angry look on her face. It was odd, and slightly unnerving. At the same time at that cafe, there was another lady staring at me but once she finished her coffee, she came up to my table to tell me that she loved my hair and everything about it and just gushed at me for a few seconds. It was a nice compliment, and it explained why she had been staring at me earlier. She walked away and I looked over to find the somewhat grumpy lady staring at me again. Still frowning. Still staring. I decided to hold her gaze and we had a small stare-off until she eventually turned away (I’m good at that game by the way and won the Championship challenge against my brother in the 80’s). However she kept staring-looking away-frowning-staring-looking away for the remainder of her time at the café. It was rather interesting and weird at the same time. At one point I was tempted to go up to her just to ask her why she kept looking at me like I stole her last Tim Tam, but decided against it because to be honest, she looked a little mean and I didn’t want any awkwardness at my favourite café. I’m prepared to suffer in silence as long as I can keep getting my coffee.

But it got me thinking about staring and honestly, I don’t see why you need to stare at someone for such a long period of time. I don’t see why you need to stare at someone at all. If you like the way a person looks, or are attracted to them, or like their hair, when they catch you staring, crack a smile! It won’t hurt you. It won’t even cost you anything. Plus it’s really easy to do, you just need to raise the sides of your mouth upward and viola: you’re smiling! If you find it hard to smile, think of little puppies running around you licking your ankles, or imagine yourself with an endless supply of chocolate. If neither of those work for you, remember that you’re still alive and breathing as that alone is reason enough to smile.

Who knows what was going through that woman’s mind when she was looking at me; maybe I reminded her of someone who she hated. Or maybe she really hated my hair (I don’t see how she could because I have a really funky blonde thing happening at the moment and I look pretty good – that’s what other people are saying, honest). Maybe she was just having a really bad day (though I don’t understand why that would justify her giving me the evil eye). Whatever it was, her staring at me put a slight damper on my experience because I found myself distracted and unnerved by it. Here’s the thing people, don’t stare at people. Just don’t. It’s weird and creepy and makes you look weird and creepy when you do it. Most girls do not find it attractive when a guy stares at them like they are a lamb chop ready to be eaten. Trust me when I say it does not make us want to fall into your arms, unless we’re in love with you, then we’ll more than likely make an excuse for your staring and call it romantic (admit it girls, you know it’s true). I don’t know how boys feel about girls staring at them, but when I watch girls staring at boys, I find it a little creepy and slightly embarrassing. When you stare, you make people feel uncomfortable and insecure and self-conscious and really, that’s just not nice. Smile, grin, wave or wink at them, but don’t stare at them because honestly, it’s just weird.

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