I love people watching – mostly because I’m a fan of human folly. My friend and I often grab a bite in the bar section of our local burger joint. As we usually plan these get-togethers at the last-minute, the bar, though noisy, always affords instant seating. It also always affords ample people watching. I’ve found myself compiling categories of single social drinkers who alarm or annoy those around them, of which there are seven.
This is perhaps my least favorite of the annoying single social drinkers, mostly because I’m deeply uncomfortable having people look at me for any length of time. The Gawker, as the name implies, doesn’t particularly care that you’re uncomfortable. The Gawker, has chameleon-like eyes which swivel independently, looking for anything of interest to zero in on. If they’ve decided you are their entertainment, so be it. They will swivel their chair accordingly, the better to watch you and all your interactions. Fear not if the cocktail waitress or any other human being gets in their way. They’ll stand and move off to the side to continue. The Gawker does not heed the typical social norms of glancing away when caught in his/her observations. They either (a) find themselves and their behavior endearing or (b) are utterly unaware of propriety. This leads me to annoying single social drinker # 2.
The name may seem a bit harsh for what they really do. I’ve yet to see one follow someone out of the bar. The Stalker is at home in a group. Once he/she has discovered someone of interest and made their overtures, The Stalker begins their hunt. It really doesn’t matter to them that the person is completely uninterested, in fact, this seems to draw them in. Little by little they will loom closer. This smothering usually causes an about-face. Now The Stalker is left staring at their prey’s back. The savvy person, knowing they’ve dodged a bullet, will seek out another section of the table, bar, or even make a dash to the restroom, thinking it will end the stalking for the night. It doesn’t. The Stalker as the name implies, will suddenly lurch in that direction as well. I’ve seen many interactions outside the doors to the restroom. This is one of the reasons I always make sure I’m facing in that direction. I feel like Jane Goodall taking field notes. The only thing that ends the stalking is a hasty departure.
This person we’ve all seen and met. The Rocker is the one who nods their head in time to music only they hear. I’ve often found myself straining for distant chords while observing them. Nothing. The Rocker will always gesture towards something or someone with the hand holding their beverage. The Rocker will always approach their victim while grooving away. Just when their prey begins to wonder if they’ve gone deaf, The Rocker will suddenly lean in and shout as if they’re standing next to the speakers at a heavy metal concert. This tends to alarm and stun their prey. The Rocker is the social drinker who talks the loudest. This isn’t out of a sense of self-importance but because they’re inebriated and rocking out to self-generated music echoing in their heads. According to NYC bartender, Marcia Herold, The Rocker will also spontaneously break into song. You’ll have difficulty determining which it is because all shouted lyrics are out of tune and incorrect. The Rocker is seemingly harmless because they can entertain themselves.
As the name implies, this group of people will mock anyone and anything to make small talk. The meanness and petty nature tends to put people off but they don’t seem to notice. The Mocker is the type of person you’ll overhear making fun of the elderly, disabled, etc. It’s as if they’re back in the locker room in high school. Pointing, laughing, and being generally boisterous as an adult in a public place comes across as drunk and disorderly. I have noticed that in most instances, the people doing this were of college-age. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. I like to think they’ll outgrow it.
Much like The Rocker, The Talker will elevate their voice. Unlike The Rocker, this is done out of a sense of self-importance. The Talker wants all of you to hear what he/she has to say. It is by design that their voice elevates eight octaves when they’re discussing the million dollar home they just sold, the deal they just closed, or the vacation they just returned from. You are meant to be impressed. You are also meant to carry earplugs or pepper spray…
The Shocker is that person who will become increasingly angry or maudlin as the night wears on. You can see them there, as their brows burrow and their faces pucker. It’s getting to them – whatever it is. Then out of nowhere The Shocker will either begin banging on the table and shouting angrily (this may or may not be directed to someone present) – or – they’ll burst into tears. Not the silent sort of weep, either. The loud and desolate cries of a broken heart. You will not see this coming. Do not try to interfere with either the angry shouting or the bitter tears. You’ll just become embroiled in it, trapped, unable to make your escape.
This last group is for people of a certain age that either haven’t been married, or are recently divorced. The Tick-Tocker realizes that time is running out on their reproductive years, and they’re eager to show the world that they’re just as hot as the twenty-something at the next table. The Tick-Tocker will sometimes go out wearing clothes completely inappropriate for their age so that they can compete with the younger crowd. The Tick-Tocker is not a disturbing social drinker. They do nothing loud or rude. They are the most mild-mannered of the bunch.
This list is by no means complete. I’m sure I’ll add to it. It’s also not particular to this area. I’ve been compiling it for quite sometime. I’m the observer in situations where alcohol fuels conversations. I’m the quiet one, listening, watching, and later blogging. Please don’t stare or shout…