Eyes Front

Over the last few years I've noticed that some people think I'm looking at them. Which I am. But not in that way.

A case in point was the man addressed in this entry. I was waiting patiently in a gift shop while my family shopped. He and his slatternly-attired daughter entered the store. I looked at them and he bristled, as if I was ogling his daughter. Which I wasn't. (But, of course, if he was that worried he could buy her some less revealing clothes.)

I was checking both of them for threats. It took me years to even realize that I do that and more years to realize that most people don't. (It may also explain why I ended up at a therapist who works with vets.) I instinctively check their hands for weapons and then inspect their clothing for concealment. Lastly I check their eyes for intent.

It's not the traditional “down-and-up” ogle, although I can see how someone might mistake it for that if they only saw the “up”. That's not to say that I don't enjoy gazing upon attractive people. But that's not my first goal. Large crowds just make it worse; there's so many more threats.

I know that it's a cliche about the macho guy that doesn't want people sitting behind him so he always sits at the back of the room. But it's not like that for me. It's part of my survival habits. Threats can come from unexpected directions.

So now, even when I've realized that some people misinterpret it, I still do it. The instinct is burned too deep.

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