Friday, May 18, 2012

Glancing Games and Other Sunday Distractions

I'm not sure why, but I've found myself caught up in a glancing game at church. This hasn't happened to me for a few years, but what makes it notable is that it involves two different people in the same place, at the same time. This is new and I can't say that I am enjoying it in the slightest.

Last Sunday I sat down to enjoy Sunday School and felt that pull one feels when eyes are upon you. I looked to my right and a pretty blonde looked away. I'd had a glancing game with her last Fall and had thought it was over. Apparently, I was mistaken. Later, as sacrament meeting started, I looked around for my daughters, the Elf & Leprechaun, but found the eyes of another girl. She's a pretty brunette, but too young for me. Whenever our eyes meet I am more than a little uncomfortable. Why is she looking at me? I'm an old dude. What the heck?

You might be wondering why I'd worry that two beautiful, younger girls were staring at me. After all, this is the stuff that fantasies are made of. What I've left out of the story is that the stares aren't amorous; they're bothered. This game has been going on for weeks, so much so that whenever I enter the chapel or foyer, I meet the glance of one or the other. I can't escape them. In fact, I can feel their eyes on me. It's very distracting.

Are you one of those people that can tell when eyes are watching you? I know that I am. I suspect these glancing games happen when I encounter others with the same intuition.

That Sunday there wasn't room to sit together as a family, so the Brownie and I were on the other side of the chapel. The glancing games were the worst they've ever been because of this. I had to look past the brunette to see my daughters, but on the other side of them was the blonde. So all sacrament long I would try to get eye contact with my girls but got eye contact with the other girls instead. It was driving me mad.

Why are they looking at me? I can discount one obvious suggestion. There's no way the brunette finds me attractive. That's just silly; she's too young. And the teacher is in her late 20s and has a boyfriend, so that's not the answer for her, either. Besides, I'm still about 20 pounds overweight, with graying temples, and hair that is so overdue for a cut that I look like Robert Smith of the Cure. Attraction is not at play here.

There is a more likely explanation: They think I've been looking at them, so they look at me to see if I'm looking at them again, which of course I am because I can feel when somebody is looking at me so I look back. After weeks of this, we are so synced that we involuntarily look up whenever we sense the other entering the room. My only comfort is that they look as irritated as I feel. I imagine they're thinking the same thing. Why is he looking at me?!

I'm not sure what to do about it. On one hand I'm experiencing a psychic event, which is more than a little cool, but on the other hand it can be stressful. Where can I rest my eyes without attracting theirs? And here we have our first clue why they might think I've been looking at them: whenever I get bored in church I start to look around.

Studying people is fun. I see the Amazonian blonde, stately and elegant, who is constantly playing with her husband's hair. I notice the elderly gentleman who is illuminated by the glow of his iPad as he cross references scriptures with a flick, flick, flick. I see the Polynesian family with the clever hairstyles. I notice the children clambering over and under the pews, much to the embarrassment of their parents. I watch the newlywed couple whisper and giggle with their heads so close you can see the static electricity entwine their hair. Then I notice somebody looking back. Most of the time that isn't a big event. I smile; they smile. We turn back to the instructor. But sometimes I end up in this mess.

I imagine this could be useful when writing a scene. If my characters were in a similar situation, one or the other wouldn't know what the glancer was thinking. I could project any intent I want there. Are they paranoid? Terrified? Amorous? Obsessed?

If my main character, Skylar, kept meeting the eyes of a pretty blonde, what would he make of it? He's thirteen. You can imagine what he might think, but would he be right? Maybe romance is far from her mind and she just can't believe how shaggy his hair is. Maybe she's being paid to watch him. Maybe she's just caught in the same loop my blonde is likely in, worried he's looking at her so she keeps looking at him to check, which makes him look at her. I'm not sure how I'll utilize this scenario, but it's fun to imagine how much more interesting this glancing game could make the introduction of a new character.

There are so many ways that scenario could be played in my story, but how am I going to play mine? I've decided the first thing I'm going to do is stop being nervous about it. I bet it makes me look guilty. I'm not doing anything wrong. Neither are they. We've just got this weird sync going on for the moment. It might be entertaining to catch their eye and make a funny face at them, but the easiest thing to do would be to simply stop looking around. Next time I sit down for Sunday School I should pay attention to the lesson instead of the faces around me. If I concentrate hard enough, I'll probably not even feel their eyes burning holes in the back of my neck.