Just Call Me Snoopy McNosy

Do you remember reading Harriet the Spy? I was a lot like her as a kid. That means that I was a sneaky little snoop. Harriet wasn’t exactly a busybody. She just liked to observe people in their unguarded moments and then chronicle their actions and reactions. I wasn’t quite as subtle. As a matter of fact, I was a right buttinski. I would see something interesting and instead of writing about it, I would report it to the gathering of matrons on my grandmother’s porch.

Most late afternoons, my grandmother and her older sister parked themselves on the porch with the pretense of having afternoon tea while really keeping an eagle eye out on the neighborhood. One by one, their contemporaries would arrive and the exchange of gossip gradually built up until the commentary became ridiculously vicious.

I liked to show up and toss them a bone to pick apart until nothing’s left of it but a couple of teeny shards. When I got a bit older, I realize that it wasn’t nice behavior so I stopped doing it and became more like Harriet. I still liked to poke my nose into people’s business, without them knowing it, and then use those bits of details in stories I made up in my head. Some found their way to paper, but many didn’t.

In my unofficial vocation as a nosy parker, I liked to take long walks around the neighborhood. Sometimes, I jogged but that got me sweaty and breaking out in hives. As I loitered around the neighborhood feigning physical fitness under the cover of twilight, I liked looking into houses and guessing what the people who lived in them were like. Often I was actually acquainted with them, so I liked to look to gain more insight into the kind of people they were.

Now, I’m wondering if I’m incriminating myself for some kind of lawsuit, admitting to this penchant for looking in from the outside. It’s not like I was a real peeping tom. When the windows are open and the lights inside are on, you can see things. That’s what I took advantage of. If I had been a career criminal, I would have probably enjoyed casing joints, but instead, I just went, “Oh, the Milanos have pretty wallpaper!” or “Kevin Kishi plays darts instead of doing his homework.”

That was during my youth, a time when I had hours (hours, man!) free to lie around reading books or stroll around the neighborhood, snooping into people’s business. These days when I find myself in between tasks, I still can’t get a few minutes to myself, which only ever come in the form of bathroom breaks. I only ask my daughter to watch her brothers when I have chores that need to get done. I don’t do it so I can go off and take a nap or soak in a relaxing bath. My husband, on the other hand, is good enough to watch the kids long enough so I can zip in and out of the bathroom. Sometimes, when I’m almost hysterical with the weight of all my unfinished tasks, he would grudgingly agree to take a nap with his arm around the baby while the baby watches something on his phone.

My gosh, I need to talk to somebody about all this resentment. I’ve noticed that certain issues keep on rearing up their ugly heads in my Medium articles.

Anyway, these days, when I’m in between tasks, I bring the baby to the balcony and watch the people and cars passing by. If I’m lucky to score a quiet moment when the baby is sleeping (this is rarer than a blue moon as I’m always raring to get to some other task as soon as I get the baby to sleep), I get on our Life Fitness 95T Inspire treadmill and do my run or walk while looking out the window.

I’m still nosy. I still like to find out about people. I still make up stories in my mind. I just do everything from the inside looking out this time.

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