So, today my brother and I had dinner at a mall food court. (Not a good idea, going to a mall on a Saturday afternoon, but we had thought the cold weather might keep people away. The naive thought.) My food was ready a lot faster than his was, so I spent a lot of time just sitting there waiting.
I ended up noticing what was going on at one of the tables in front of me. There were four teenage boys at the table. I am far too inexperienced in the general field of “teenage boys” to know how old they were, but they looked quite young, maybe fourteen or so. Then again, they seemed to be there alone, and there aren’t many places to live within walking distance of that mall (not when the weather is literally freezing, anyway) so maybe at least one of them was sixteen and could drive. Or maybe they were going to meet up with parents/older siblings/what-have-you later on. I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter.
Anyway, the closer one with his back towards me was holding up his cell phone to take pictures with it, which was pretty much impossible to miss from where I was sitting. His friends also had their phones out, but largely weren’t as preoccupied with them as he was: if he ever looked away from his phone, it was only in the moments when I wasn’t looking in that general direction.
What really caught my eye about the pictures he was taking, though, was that they were all of the boy sitting across from him. None of the other two boys at the table, none of the surroundings in the mall, just shots of the face of the boy he was sitting across from. Over and over again. At least one he seemed to be posting somewhere or texting to someone or something (I noticed him typing while the picture was still on the screen). He started drawing on a few of the others, but not mocking, goofy-mustache-type drawings; he was outlining the facial features in various bright colors, as if to create a pop-art portrait.
Maybe he was just bored and lacked creativity to think of anything else to do. But with three friends there, you’d think he’d have more to say and do than just take pictures over and over again like that. Maybe the phone was new, and he was playing with its features to learn about them. But he seemed like he knew what he was doing, and how to use it.
Ultimately, as an outside observer, I kept thinking “you know, your behavior makes it look like you’ve got a crush on him.” Obviously, I know nothing at all about teenage boys, so I have no idea if anything like that actually entered into his behavior. (Even when I was a teenage girl, I still knew nothing about teenage boys. More than twenty years later, I know even less about them.) But the more I noticed him taking pictures, the more I found myself watching against my will and better judgement, just waiting to see if he would finally take a picture of someone or something else, but he never did.
In the end, I suppose this sounds like a horrible case of voyeurism, but that really wasn’t what it was at all. I was bored, and a strange scene was playing out before my eyes, so how could I not notice it?