Monday, September 17, 2007


Question 1: Do people who are obviously having a good time make you smile or frown?
Question 2: Does it depend on the type of thing they are doing to obviously have a good time?

These were the two questions that I believe were answered last week as Monica and I conducted a little experiment. Well, it didn’t start out as an experiment, it started out as Monica and I seeing which songs we liked on Of Montreal’s album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? as it turned out we liked most of the songs a lot. The exceptions were “The Past is a Grotesque Animal”, and “Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider”.

It was about 6pm. We parked ourselves at the northeast corner of Dearborn and Wacker (a fairly busy spot for the business types considering the time of day) and, harkening back to the days where we rode the blue line home together, each grabbed an iPod earbud and got to listening. As we listened we tapped our feet and bopped our heads to the beat. We smiled and softly sang along to some of the tunes (until it got dark, then we sang loudly). We were obviously happy. As we sat, we noticed people were responding to us in a wide variety of ways. Some tried desperately to ignore us because they didn’t want to stare. Some really wanted to stare but did not indicate if they were staring in pleasure, confusion, or anger they were just staring. Some simply didn’t care one way or the other. Some were pleased by our fun. Others were filled with disdain. We decided to up our efforts a little bit and see what happened.

Those filled with disdain, although in the minority, made an incredible impression. They seemed to truly hate us. We weren’t even that annoying because most of the disdainful folk came by before we started singing very loud. There was one very drunk woman who looked at us as if we were demon spawn. I don’t see what is so terrible about a couple of ladies boppin' to music that no one else can hear but she thought it was in very poor taste. There was an older man who just looked at us and shook his head disapprovingly. There was a woman in a striped sweater who made a “huff” type of noise and turned her nose up a bit. There was even a guy in a truck who stared at us as if we were setting the race back a few decades and rolled up his window. We weren’t asking for money or anything, just enjoying some music. Still, our ease and obvious merriment made them uncomfortable

Of the people who tried not to stare I didn’t think too much. They were just people who wanted to go about their business and I have certainly found myself trying not to look at people who I didn’t want to acknowledge me. Maybe they thought we were going to try and sing to them, or ask them for money, or speak. It doesn’t matter, I got them. The ones that blatantly stared without any reaction good or bad were another thing all together. The ones that really stuck with me were two women, about our age, who were in a taxi stopped in front of us at the light. They made me really sad. The look on their face as they were staring told me that, while they realized we were having an excellent time, they would not have been comfortable doing something so obviously “weird”. It simply would not have fit into their young professional lifestyle. They seemed to wonder why they were so much older than us. It was a little depressing. I also enjoyed the stares of the elderly, they just seemed miffed. There was also a taxi full of guys about our age who were just craning their necks to see what was going on, they obviously thought we were very interesting.

However, my favorite types by far were the people who seemed to share in our happiness. There were the guys who were taking a photo of a building by us and when Monica missed taking a picture of him taking a picture he gladly posed and she got an excellent shot. There were children in the car with their father who looked at us and smiled and told their daddy. He smiled and waved out of the window of his car. There was the guy on the motorcycle who came up to the corner to smile and bop his head along with us. There were the older businessmen who appreciated our loud rendition of Fortunate Son. There was even the homeless guy who seemed intrigued by our singing and wanted a concert, much to our discomfort. Whoever these people were, we made them happy just by having fun and those are the types of people I would want to be friends with and I am glad we were able to make their day a little brighter. They made me smile a little bigger, dance a little more, and sing a little louder which, in turn, probably annoyed people I didn’t like more. Awesome.

1. In one hand dreams a plenty/ In her smile a secret spell/ In her blood disappointments/ These she knows oh too well.

2. I rap for listeners/ Bluntheads, fly ladies, and prisoners/ Hennessey holders and old school niggas then I’ll be dissin/ an unofficial that smoke woolie Thai/ I dropped out of Cooley High

3. It’s too good/ It’s too nice/ She makes me finish too quick/ Is it love/ No not love/ She turns my sexual tricks. Suffocated Love, Tricky. Identified by Ern and thanks for the lyric correction!

4. I miss you/ But I haven’t met you yet/ So special/ But it hasn’t happened yet. I Miss You, Bjork. Identified by Friend.

And a special song just for the birthday girl, FRIEND, Happy Birthday Friend! No one but Friend is allowed to name this song even if they know it and they really want to.

5. Now I’m just average common too/ I’m just like him the same as you/ I’m everybody’s brother and son/ I ain’t different than anyone/ Ain’t no use in talking to me/ Just the same as talking to you. I Shall Be Free #10, Bob Dylan. Identified by Friend, just like she was supposed to do.


Monica said...

That was so much fun! The guy in the cab who really loved us looked kinda like Rowntree from Blur didn't he? And it was whilst we sang 'Tender' so it was even better. If I can get my memory card to stop being special, I will post thicture of the guy taking a picture. He loved us a lot. I hate fun haters.

Blog Antagonist said...

What an interesting social experiment!

That said. People having fun make me smile. People being purposely obnoxious or obviously trying to gain attention, annoy me.

Since most people would rather walk in public naked than let other people hear them sing with earbuds in, I probably would have assumed the latter.

I'm theorizing that the disapproving looks you got weren't because of the music or the fun, but because people thought you were purposely making spectacles of yourselves or trying to irritate those around you.

Thought provoking topic. You have my undying respect for having the nerve to do it.

With Love, Fat Girl said...

That totally depends on my mood. If I'm having a good day and all is well with the world, I love seeing love, laughter, good times, kids, you name it.

If the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, leave me alone with my earbuds, and let me keep my eyes closed in peace!

thethinker said...

The people who looked at you two with disdain were obviously jealous.

If I see someone having a good time, it makes me smile.

Katrina said...

I love seeing people have a good time, it makes me happy. So much so I can't help but smile. Depending on what they're doing I might shake my head at the sillyness but I certainly wouldn't be disdainful towards them.

Dynamo360 said...

What a great storie Natalie! The other day there was a young woman lip synching into the handle of her umbrella as she walked down the street. She was waiting to cross at a corner we were sharing right around five when everyone is getting out of work. She was clearly in her early teens and no one was amused. Part of that was she was also mimicing what I can only assume were the dance moves in the music video but still... I was happy watching her get so into it even if (I admit) I was wondering if she was a little unbalanced. She was so convincing it seemed like she actually believed she was in the scene she was clearly playing out in her head!

What you describe doesn't sound crazy at all. I would have given you the thumbs up and smiled as I walked by. ;)

Dynamo360 said...

Did I really type stor-ie???

Evil Spock said...

I think it depends on the city and time of the year. Here in Bloomington, everyone seems to be in a good mood during the warm months.

terry said...

people are weird.

someone once told me that unhappy people can't tolerate happy people, and that seems to explain a lot of the reactions you saw.

notfearingchange said...

If I were with you I would have totally sang and danced with you!


Jaclyn said...


Kudos to you both for being so bold and unconcerned with what other people think or do in reaction to you. It's a quality I most admire in you.