People Watching in San Diego

People watching
The Fool on the Hill sees the sun going down…

Last night I came back from my old hometown of sunny San Diego. Even though it was a quick business trip, on Sunday I was able to squeeze in time at the beach with a friend. This was quite unexpected because my friend is also from Utah and was there on business, as well. But the stars aligned and as it turned out we had breakfast together and then cruised up Pacific Coast Highway to nowhere in particular. There’s nothing better than unstructured time (something I have very little of these days), mainly because it allows me to unwind while engaging in one of my favorite pastimes—good old-fashioned people watching.

Over the years I’ve become a master at discretely observing the crazy-ass high jinks people pull when they think the world is not watching. The world may turn a blind eye, but I don’t. I liken myself to The Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill” as no one seems to notice when I silently sit there and wonder, “WTF was that guy thinking when he planted that ridiculous ‘tupe’ on his head to go surfing?”

Unusual? Yes. Uncommon? No.

Having grown up on the west coast (never living more than a few miles from the beach—UNTIL I moved to Utah as an adult) I’ve seen my fair share of bad hair jobs getting tossed like arugula in the breakers. I’m here to tell you toupee tape and salt water don’t mix. This almost always results in some guy looking like he has a dead squirrel growing out of his head.

But while I was out with my Utah friend scrutinizing the wildlife on PCH, and then doing the same on my own in the days following, I noticed a few things about my beloved native California that escaped me when I lived there—mainly because I was a local ensconced in the thick of it. But now that I’ve been away a while, I’m a bit of an outsider looking in, and all I can say is…What the hell was I thinking?

Bathing Suits as Prêt-à-Porter

people watching
Well…at least she’s at the beach and not at the post office (Photo credit: Pete Morawski

When you live at the beach you live in your bathing suit. And instead of underwear, you’re usually donning a bathing suit under that Gap T-shirt and those Banana Republic cargo shorts. Because you never know when you might need to cool off in the ocean in between getting a Peach Ambrosia smoothie at Ki’s and going to the bank.

However, it’s one thing to walk around a beachy neighborhood in a bikini top and Capris, and quite another to stroll into Bank of America sporting a few strings of dental floss across the parts of your body that are pixelized out on an episode of Cops. Maybe I’m getting old, but I saw so many women (young and not-so-young) grocery shopping or even just waiting for a bus in what can only be described as naked bodies adorned with a few patches of fabric.

And might I say these were not necessarily bodies that anyone would want to see scantily clad. When my friend and I were driving I saw one young woman on the street with a figure that can only be described as “robust” wearing a bikini that was about eight sizes too small. Her bathing suit bottoms looked like a broken cargo net full of tangelos. Good lord, sister, cover up that mess when you’re walking around downtown in front of all those al fresco restaurants. People are trying to eat, for cryin’ out loud.

Old Guys With Trophy Wives

Okay Dude, we get it. You have a lot of money and a nice car…probably to compensate for your lack of physical attributes. But if you think for ONE MINUTE that we believe you’re into that f.u.n. concert your 25-year-old trophy wife/girlfriend/mistress dragged you to, you’re about as thick as that wheat grass Martini you’re trying to choke down. I know this “Old-Guy-Young-Chick” dance has been going on since time began, and maybe it’s because I’m now middle-aged that I notice it more, but this time out I saw a lot of couples that I assumed were father-daughter…until I saw them kiss. And then it just got icky.

“Do You Come Here Often?”

People watching at Trifecta
The Trifecta Tavern in the Whole Foods Del Mar (and you thought I was kidding)

Chalk this up to the “Now I’ve seen everything” category: The Whole Foods in Del Mar on Via de la Valle not only has valet parking, but also a bar right inside the store. And I’m not talking salad bar (although they have that, too) but a full bar where you need a liquor license just to unlock the door. It comes complete with barstools, café tables, mood lighting, a sports bar TV, and organic wasabi crunchy things for snacks. Oh, and LOTS of men and women doing their best bar scene schtick…all while I’m getting my almond milk and gluten-free cookies.

So guys now if you run in just to quickly pick up some kale, Red Yeast Rice, and Co-Q-10, you can also pick yourself up a hot blond or a fiery redhead. However, you may have to buy her a drink first. This is Whole Foods, you know. These women have standards.

Illegal Alien People Watching

people watching at Comic-Con
Comic-Con makes people watching high art

While in the Vons in Carmel Valley I saw two guys come in dressed as Romulans. Or Klingons. I’m not sure which because, much like my up-close vision, my Star Trek muscle has atrophied ever since I turned 40. When I mentioned that the Mother Ship Enterprise has already left the station, they laughed and told me they were in town for Comic-Con. But when I said, “Comic-Con doesn’t start for another three days,” they replied, “Yeah, we know.” Then they bought their Pringles and Rolling Rock Beer at the self-checkout, and headed out to their rented Ford Escort. But I’m pretty sure they didn’t pay for the Funyuns.


So yes, people watching in California definitely rises to a new level. I’m not sure how much “crazy” my friend noticed during his stint in Cali, as he grew up in midwest suburbia where everything was fairly status quo. When you’re raised like that, our beloved west coast weirdness either escapes you or you’re traumatized by it. He seemed pretty okay when we parted ways. However, the most disturbing thing for me was realizing that when I lived here, I was also part of the freak show. All I can say is thank god there was no YouTube or blogging back then. Because like that bad tattoo one gets during a drunken weekend in Tijuana, that shit is hard to erase.

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Stacy Dymalski is the host of the hilarious TV talk show “Mother Bloggers” on She’s also an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.