People Watch People

The Handmade Open House in which I participated was a blast. It took place at Emily’s (my Zumba instructor) house, a beautiful old home within our town’s historic district. The first home we ever purchased, in Kenosha Wisconsin, was of similar age and although there is plenty to be said (and written) about modern homes and all of their features, I adore the charm of creaky hallways, built-in china cabinets, and plentiful wood mouldings.

My display area was the front half of the antique dining room table, which was painted butter yellow and provided a colorful backdrop for my wares. The dining room happened to be in between the family room and the kitchen–where the snacks and wine were located–so the path nearest to me was the best-traveled.

The chaos of eager shoppers making their way around to visit all of us made for an evening rife with people-watching opportunities.

One thing I noticed is that many (not all, thank goodness) suburban women who go out for a carefree evening of old-fashioned shopping and wine tend to not care much about where they place said wine when they need a break from holding it. As the only seller of things made from paper at that yellow dining room table, I cringed countless times as wine glasses were placed in between my stacks of books during a conversation or a perusal of the goods on the table. I finally had to stop paying attention that closely, for fear of a nervous breakdown, and trust that if someone spilled something, they would make it right if anything was damaged.

The same goes for the few times when a shopper would put her purse right on top of my handmade travel journals so she could rummage through it for money or other objects located deep inside. Gah. (Where’s the respect? Seriously.)

My favorite people to watch were the children. I was very pleased that my colorful travel journals were a magnet for kids, and watching the (mostly) girls who attended flip through the piles of books trying to decide which one they wanted put a smile on my face. Many of them, upon making the decision, hugged the journal to their chest as they went to find their mom to ask permission. Some of them came prepared with their own purses, and when they pulled out their wallets I was shocked to see that they carried more cash for the evening than I carry in about four months put together.

One of the other ladies selling goods from the yellow table was a kid magnet, too. Her flower headbands were all the rage, and when I wasn’t talking to people around me, I enjoyed viewing the try-on process. The little girls, most of them between seven and ten years old, suddenly turned into twenty-something fashionistas before my eyes, tilting their heads to either side as they asked a friend–or mom–“So how do I look? Will this one work?”

One mom, who was enjoying the shopping opportunity while her daughter was apparently at home, chanced to meet her daughter’s friend at the table. She picked up two flower headbands and asked the friend, “Which one do you think Sarah would like?” Sarah’s friend, who was about nine years old, answered (in all seriousness) “Well, it depends. Are we talking ‘daywear’?”

As I watched people browse, I noticed something that was prevalent: the lack of cell phone usage for texting and tweeting. I giggled to myself when I made the realization that most of the events and gatherings I’ve attended in the last who-knows-how-long have been social-media based, and it’s no big deal to look around and see people’s fingers flying across their phone to tweet about what’s going on. A craft show is the polar opposite of that, and even though I tweeted two or three times over the course of the evening, I felt odd doing it and quickly put my phone away so I could continue interacting with those in the room. It was a bizarre feeling, to be so refreshed by a mostly phone-free evening.

As ten o’clock approached, I started to pack up my books and thanked our hostess. All in all, it went really well. It was a great warm-up for the next craft show I’m doing, in December. If I could only convince Emily to give me that table…

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