Saturday, December 11, 2010

eye contact

An important part of living in Baltimore, more than any other place in my experience, is learning when it's a good idea to make eye contact with random people you pass on the street...and when it's best to avoid it.

Eye contact = ok: older people, especially older women, especially church ladies; business owners and shopkeepers; police officers; dog walkers; young children; adult men who watch everything that's going on with quiet, neutral expressions; myself, at least on a good day.

Eye contact = not advisable: loud people who make big movements while walking; clammy looking guys with plastic hospital bracelets; women shrieking obscenities at each other on opposite sides of the street; people muttering darkly to themselves; adult men who preemptively glare at you for no reason you can fathom; certain people you know from work who spot you at the coffee shop or the market and glance at you interrogatively, but whom you don't really feel like talking to at the moment because you're, like, on a date or something and the last thing you need is for them to be all like, 'so, did you read that report on gargledyhoohablahdeeshnoo from the Urban Institute last week?'

Eye contact = it varies: teens and older youth; orthodox religious people; guys singing or rapping cheerfully to the world at large; people you used to hang out with/work with/sleep with but haven't seen recently, whom you see at a random concert or whatever.