Now that I'm in the waning years of my college experience, I can look back at the prime of my people-watching career and I am grateful. Why? Because I have intimately come to understand my peers by intently watching them.
Freshman year I lived in Onondaga Hall and sophomore year I lived in Allegany Hall - lived is synonymous with professional bumming in this context. I actually lived in Seneca Hall but the lackluster hustle and bustle did not suffice.
Onondaga and Allegany whirr with frequent traffic, an ideal setting for an anthropological behaviorist such as myself. On the weekends, the best form of entertainment was watching the seams of hell opening up at exactly 2:26 a.m. after the In Between had closed.
Suffice it to say, I had plenty of subjects to observe.
I'd like to add that I write this with no shame, as everyone is guilty of the act of scrutinizing people in varying degrees. Those who read this and have reservations on the matter should take a minute or two out of virtual people watching, also known as Facebook, and participate in a creative exercise of real world people watching.
Keep a running count of Geneseo students wearing really hip pairs of tortoise keyhole-bridge glasses, some form of Greek apparel, the color mint - very trendy and chic - or sweats. I guarantee it will hold your attention for a few minutes.
If you start to pay attention to demeanor, though, you quickly come to appreciate the awkward creature that is the Geneseo student.
We buzz from class to class, many of us wearing ear buds - partly because we like music, partly because we want to avoid striking up conversation.
My favorite part about being on campus, though, is witnessing the way we students greet each other. We follow this script with exacting precision when we see our peers: eye up the target from approximately 50 feet away, think to yourself, “Damn, they saw me with my chin up while I was looking in their direction,” divert eye contact.
Then, as the awkwardness reaches its peak, almost as sly as a slight of hand, we look up, meekly smile and fermata our “Hey.”
The only encounter that will parallel the level of uneasiness you feel in this moment happens when you see a professor in Wal-Mart. Janis Ian put it well in Mean Girls when she said, “It's like seeing a dog on its hind legs.”
In spite of this there may be one more unnerving occurrence on campus. It occurs late at night near the Integrated Science Center. As you are walking by yourself, you feel that something is watching you, and there is. The ISC cats are staring you down, and really the only thing on par with that level of creepiness is, well, this article.