My DDAVP punked out on me at 1:15 this afternoon; I realized, as I walked from the nether regions of the WalMart parking lot, in the rain, that I not only needed to pee like the proverbial racehorse (TMI?) but if I didn’t get massive amounts of liquid within 3 minutes, I was liable to sprint through the store, back to the pets area, and start sucking nasty fishy-scum water out of the aquariums.

That, my friends, is DI thirst. Almost anything wet is so appealing it’s just about irresistible. Lucky for me, this WalMart has a McDonald’s, where I can buy a small soda, sit there and watch people, and refill it until my stomach feels like it’s going to pop. And luckily for me, since my doc changed my DDAVP prescription from a nasal spray to pills, I always have some on me. So I headed straight for McD’s bought a drink, popped a pill, and sat down to watch the people pushing carts and strollers and wheelchairs through the store.

I was once asked why I watch people so much. Don’t I worry they’ll feel violated? Doesn’t it feel creepy?

I watch, because it’s difficult to write without having observed. I can’t create realistic characters unless I pay attention to real people, and people are at their most real when they’re doing everyday things and when they don’t feel like they’re being watched. No, I don’t worry they’ll feel violated; it’s not like I sit there and stare, and it’s not as if I were intruding into their home life. If you’re out in public, someone or something is watching you. If not me, then someone else. Or some camera is recording you. You have no Reasonable Expectations to privacy when you’re pushing your cart through WalMart. And it doesn’t feel creepy; creepy would be if I sat there and stared at some little kid, thinking things that no sane person should think. Creepy is the old guy at the YMCA who stares nonstop at the woman in the next lane.

I’m just watching. Soaking it in. Paying attention to how people move, how they talk, how they get frustrated with little things but can be very patient for big things.

A year or so ago I was in the same WalMart, shopping instead of watching. I kept winding up in the same aisle with this woman and her little boy; he kept asking for things and she kept saying no, until he finally asked one time too many and she lost it, and yelled at him over a packet of stickers. It was one of those parental melt down moments that anyone who has ever shopped with a child on a regular basis has had: you’ve told your kid ahead of time he’s not to ask for anything, but being a kid he does anyway, and repeatedly, and you finally explode with a “Do I need to yank your little butt out of here? Because if we have to go to the car, you KNOW what’s going to happen!”

She was super-pissed, and that just made him cry. But he put the stickers down.

Fifteen, twenty minutes later I went into the restroom and there’s Mom with her distraught kid; he’s had an accident, and it’s oozing down his pants legs, through the material, over his shoes. It’s a giant, stinky, horrendous thing to have to clean up. And he’s crying, embarrassed, and Mom is on her knees telling him “It’s okay, sweetie. We’ll get you cleaned up and then we can go home and take a bath, okay?”

Yeah, she lost it over the stickers, but when it counted, she was gentle and understanding with her kid. People are like that. People might cut you off in the parking lot, rush to get a parking space before you, but if slip and fall in the store, they’ll rush to try to help. Get your shirt caught on something and rip it wide open, and they’ll offer you the one off their own backs.

I like to sit there and see what people are really like. Most of the time it’s a good thing to see. Most of the time people try to be kind to each other. In the parking lot, in the anonymity of a car, maybe not so much, but when confronted with need, most people rise to occasion.

I sat in McD’s today, sucking my way through 4 refills, and watched. I heard Bill, the greeter, welcoming people with his loud, friendly voice. Teenager boys filtered in, walking with legs wide to keep their pants from falling down. A young girl practically danced past, as she squealed to her father “I can’t believe we’re really getting a kitty!”

And then there was the little guy who stopped almost directly in front of me; he reached out and grabbed a box of brownies off the sale rack and announced “I yikes dis!”

Mom said, no, we’re not buying that today, we’re here for a mop.

“I yikes dis!”

Not today. Put it down.

“BUT I YIKES DIS! I yikes dis, I yikes dis, I yikes dis!”

Mom gives him The Look. Everyone else in a twenty foot radius is trying not to laugh.

“I yikes dis! I want dis for Kissmas!”

“Christmas is a long time away, kiddo.” She took the box from him and put it back, and then reached for his hand. As she lead him away I heard his distraught little voice, “I yikes dis, I yikes dis!”

I’d finally had enough to drink, my DDAVP finally taking effect, and I as I got up, I head someone behind me mutter, “Well, dammit, now *I* want brownies.”

So do I, mister.
Brownies and snickerdoodles.
Maybe for Kissmas.

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