Staring Contests (Revisited)

Just a quick follow-up: one of my biggest pet peeves is when people wear shades indoors or when it’s not sunny outside….and when they proceed to stare at everyone around them.

It reminds me of a subway ride I had way back on a rainy morning when I hopped into an empty seat across from a dude wearing aviators. I thought to myself, “Is this guy for real? Shades on a subway when there’s not a spec of sky between all of the grey clouds?”. I gave the guy a break thinking he was probably just hungover and turned my attention to a book.

Then I noticed he was staring at me in my peripheral vision….”jackass”. Gave him a quick look then went back to reading. Two stops go by on the subway. Guy’s still staring, definitely not sleeping. What’s his problem? I honestly am not the kinda guy with an ego but this was gettin’ on my nerves. So what was the logical solution? I put my book down and stared right back at him….for three stops.

He finally looks down to pack up his things. Awesome, I won the staring contest….then I noticed him unfolding his walking cane.

And that’s how I came up with the game:


Staring Contests

There are boatloads of studies on anthropological implications of establishing alpha-dominance but the phenomenon of making eye contact with someone still intrigues the hell outta me.

It’s one of the most complex notions of human interaction and also one of the funniest. Have you ever been told it’s polite to make eye contact when you’re speaking with someone? True, for sure. It shows you’re paying attention and not playing back the movie, “Pulp Fiction”, in your head (which is tough enough with all the plot flashbacks….cue “Tasty Burger” video clip).

On the other hand, you’ve got the person that stares waaay too much and doesn’t break
eye contact at all. Or even bothers to blink. It’s like they’re looking into your soul or trying to do a Vulcan mind meld. Cold shower, much?
The runner-up for weird overdoing it is NOT making eye contact at all. Either cuz they’re bored, have attention deficit disorder, or worse, they’re staring at you but just not your eyes. “Hey, why’s this girl staring at my groin?” or “This guy’s staring at my chest too much and drooling like a three month old baby.” Either way, it makes you feel pretty uncomfortable, right? Unless you’re that girl wearing a low cleavage shirt or that guy wearing “nut-huggers” but that’s a discussion for another time.

One final example that I always see is the way people make eye contact on the subway. Normally, you’d think it’s great the way seats always face each other so they’re conducive to conversation with friends or that attractive stranger who’s been smiling at ya for the last two stops. But then again, this isn’t Dr. Who where you go on trippy adventures with people you randomly meet. Nope – 9 out of 10 times people stare up at the ads above the windows or down at people’s shoes to avoid eye contact.

Moral of the story? Never wear dirty shoes. Wait, that’s not it.