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People Watching at the Galleria

You learn a lot by observing families as they stream by.
By Dave Boehi

August 2007

I found myself with some time to kill last week at the Galleria mall in St. Louis. Merry and I were in St. Louis with our younger daughter, Missy, for a few days of vacation We visited the zoo and the art museum and the Gateway Arch, and enjoyed a musical at The Muny outdoor theater And naturally Missy had to squeeze in a couple shopping excursions.

At the Galleria we made plans to meet in 90 minutes As usual, I finished my own shopping in about a half hour, and then walked around the mall at a fast pace for another 30 minutes Then I sat and watched people for awhile.

If you want to see the American family, just go to a mall and watch people stream by

Watch the moms walk by with their teenage daughters, and see how much they look alike In fact, watch the 70-year-old moms with their middle-aged daughters, and see how much they look alike

Watch the parents (or grandparents) pushing huge, throne-like strollers with toddlers who are fascinated by the whirl of activity in the mall Watch parents carrying their young children while pushing huge strollers now piled with shopping bags.

As you can probably guess, people-watching is one of my favorite pastimes And on this occasion, I was fascinated by the couples …

Elderly couples, escaping from the summer heat to get some exercise by walking together, around and around the mall …

A couple with matching St. Louis Cardinals garb … and another dressed all in black—he had black, spiky hair, and her hair was a blaze of black, blonde, and pink …

Couples of all shapes and sizes and ages, from middle- to upper-middle class, representing at least a dozen nationalities

One thing struck me: how much each couple seemed to fit together, both physically and emotionally It was fascinating to see, and a bit hard to explain It wasn’t just age—it was how they dressed, how they acted with each other, even how they cut their hair It was their shared life experiences and economic status and—let me say this gently—the cumulative effect of eating the same foods over the years Put all that together, and you often end up with a husband and wife who just look like they belong together, especially as they grow older I felt that I could have walked into a room with 20 of these couples—chosen randomly and mixed together—and come pretty close to matching them correctly

It was somehow encouraging, and I found myself smiling as I saw this similarity in so many of the couples who walked by I was reminded of Genesis 2:18: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’”

And then I heard a familiar voice:  “There he is, Mom—at the bottom of the escalator!”  That’s a pleasant sound in a mall full of strangers As we headed back out into the evening heat, that verse from Genesis 2:18 felt more personal, and I realized that one of the best things about being married is that no matter where you go, you’re not alone.


Meet the Author: Dave Boehi

Dave Boehi is a senior editor at FamilyLife. He has written one book (I Still Do), coauthored the Preparing for Marriage workbook, edited dozens of books and Bible studies, and produces the FamilyLife e-newsletter Help & Hope. Dave and his wife, Merry, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and have two married daughters.



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