People Are People

Reviews of human beings who have delighted/infuriated us.

GUY 1 (1)The Guy Across the Hall
I love the 1988 Penelope Spheeris documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, so imagine my delight in spotting a new neighbor who looked like he practically stepped right out of it (that or else this). He intrigues me. I’ve seen him leave and return from dropping off laundry in what seems like five seconds. I’m pretty sure those are his pizza boxes in the common-area garbage. And every Friday night he has some kind of party, which I LOVE, even though I’m not invited. He’s usually blasting AC/DC or Slayer, but once I heard Adele, which I took to mean he was a progressive, awesome guy. One day, I worked all my Nancy Drew magic and got a bit of info out of him, and it turns out he specializes in “metal-parts fabrication,” which is obviously awesome, whatever it is. Sometimes I stand outside his door and listen to him complain/yell about some city annoyance, like the traffic lights at 2nd Avenue and Black Street. Last week I stepped out into the hallway at the exact moment he happened to be standing right there. I startle easily, so I clutched my heart and screamed, “OH MY GOD!” He did not miss a beat: “I’ve been called worse.” And off he went. —Sonja

annapplreviewmay2013Tuckered-Out Child
Working at a children’s bookstore can be really rewarding. On a good day, I have a lot of fun tracking down a beloved novel from a customer’s youth, or helping a grandparent pick out a birthday present, or introducing a kid to their next favorite dystopian series. (This is gonna be HUGE.) And then there are other days, when there are a billion people in the store, most of them under the age of 10, and everything is effing chaos. One Saturday afternoon a couple of months ago, there was one frazzled mom carrying a dozen shopping bags, having clearly run several errands that day. Her son, who was maybe five or six, just wasn’t having it anymore. So he decided to take a nap. On the floor. In the middle of the store. He lay down on the ground and any time someone came near him, he would yell, “DON’T STEP ON ME!” He became my new hero, but then quickly contributed to my headache. —Anna F.

Tamale Man 1Tamale Man
You know it’s finally summer when Tamale Man arrives. Tamale Man is the guy in his 70s who stands on the corner near my house with a blue cooler and shouts “TAMALE!” at everyone who walks by, and I believe I am his best customer. I speak almost no Spanish and he speaks almost no English, but we have a beautiful relationship built on several years of pork tamales with green salsa, which are the best. A few days ago, I went up to him to buy my usual, and instead of pulling out my little paper sack of tamales, he pointed at me and said, “You sweet.” I was taken aback. Was Tamale Man hitting on me? How could he do this? Here I thought we had something special and he was ruining everything! UGH MEN. I thanked him and pulled out my money. But he pushed my money away and said, “Today you sweet.” I stood there uncomfortably. Then he took my hand, which I jerked back. He stared at me like I was crazy, then laughed and repeated, “Today you sweet.” He opened his other hand, which contained…a tamale. He offered it to me, so I took it, and it looked different. “Sweet!” he said again and motioned for me to bite. It was like biting into a delicious cornbread cake. AMAZING! “Sweet!” he said, patting me verrrrry gently on the back. Ashamed, I asked for three of these awesome new tamales and three of my usual, and he grinned, wrapped them up, and then refused to take my money. I give Tamale Man five-plus-infinity stars for (1) making perfect tamales and (2) teaching me a lesson about assuming all men are predators out to get me. —Krista

IMG_3998This Girl I Have a Crush On
I saw her on the first day of school and immediately developed the biggest girl-crush of my entire life. She is the epitome of beauty. Her hair is like a long, golden silk curtain that goes down to her hips without a strand out of place. Her nose is perfectly sloped, and her eyes are huge and gray-green. Her eye makeup makes her look like a crying porcelain doll. She wears the coolest clothes. My friends say I’m obsessed: Her name is the password on my phone, I spent six months trying to get her to accept my friend request on Facebook, and I made a shirt with her face on it and wore it to my band’s gig. Yet we’ve never spoken and she doesn’t know I exist. And what’s more, she’s graduating in three days, so I have very little time left to summon the courage to speak to her, and it’s unlikely that I will. Last week she cut in front of me in the lunch line and I got so nervous I had to run away. In fact, maybe I hope I never meet her so that way I won’t find out if she has any flaws. —Ruby B.

meatballmanMeatball Suit
This past Valentine’s Day, we went out on a meaningful besties date to the Meatball Shop, a New York City restaurant devoted to—well, yeah, not cupcakes. We were so excited about spending the most romantic day of the year eating meatballs that we didn’t really mind when we were told it’d be an hour wait. Once we returned, we had our first encounter with Meatball Suit. He gets his name because he was wearing a tailored, upscale-looking suit to a restaurant advertised as fuss-free, which just seems ridiculous. Anyway, he and his date cut in front of us at the entrance, where we were about to return our li’l buzzer. Then, to our horror, we were seated next to him at dinner. His poor date couldn’t seem to get a word in edgewise as he went on and on about how people in high school used him for his car, even though high school appeared to be a long time ago. Boy, did he talk a lot about his convertible (and loudly). We learned that he was an assistant to an author, though his dream job was to be an actor. “These writers are afraid of the internet,” he kept saying. “They’re afraid of social media.” His date, who just nodded along the entire time, couldn’t decide what to order, and neither could he. We should remind you that this restaurant is known for one thing, and they don’t have that much else on the menu. It took them 45 minutes to pick out meatballs! Anyway, this guy would have lost all stars for his lack of manners, but he deserves one star for giving us something to talk about. —Gabby and Hazel

IMG_8390 (1)Vested Rogue of the Target Parking Lot
I spotted this intrepid girl getting dropped off in the parking lot of a Target situated across the street from the suburban Chicago arena where Green Day played earlier this spring, and I scrambled for my camera to document the amazing freak flag being flown in the form of her Identity Vest. In case you can’t make them out in that little photo, the words are ARTIST, PIRATE, and ROGUE. She was alone in the parking lot, and so I imagined she was going solo to the show, and that she had dreamt up and then labored over the vest as a way to perhaps find her people. She looked like a seapunk Bruce Springsteen from the front, and there was an air of tentativeness about her, but maybe that had more to do with the fact that she was crossing a busy street. Looking at her sleeveless, not-quite-chambray, collar-popped vest, I marveled over each word: What kind of writer? Not a poet, because it would say poet otherwise. Artist? Well, obviously, going by the vest alone. Pirate? Not as easy to assess, but perhaps she bootlegs concerts and DVDs. Rogue? It’s a left-field word choice, and shows she is in fact a writer—she’s not merely a rebel, she is a savage apart from the rest. I love both her vest and her intent, which I assumed was to confront the limited view the world might have of her by telling it exactly who she is. —Jessica

Nancy blows her nose with a sock and is the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever met. I worked on her goat farm last year while I was WWOOF­ing. She lives more than 6,000 feet up in the desolate, desolate mountains of New Mexico—it’s so empty out there that in the evenings, we’d watch the lights go on in Albuquerque, over 160 miles away. Nancy keeps about 60 goats that meander freely all over the mountains and she makes delicious cheese. She tries to live as self­-sufficiently as possible, which means that she grows her own vegetables, slaughters her animals, and lives off of rain­catch. I’d walk out of the kitchen and see the head of a pig that we’d slaughtered, left out on the dusty ground so the chickens could peck it, and the old blue school bus where she and her partner lived for seven years before they built their house. Can you imagine? Living in a school bus in the absolute middle of nowhere for seven years? They used to hang cheese from the trees to dry. The stories that Nancy told me were as strange and beautiful as her farm: She hitched around with a goat named Baby back in the day, and claimed to be one of the first female truck drivers. “Drivin’ truck” was even more fun than being a hippie, she said. She taught me that life is beautiful and can take so many exquisite paths if you don’t get scared. I’m in love with Nancy, and so if y’all don’t mind, I’d like to give her one million stars. —Anna M.

dancingangelbodyguardsDancing Angel Bodyguards
A couple of weeks ago, I was out on a Friday night, pulling shapes on the dance floor, when over my partner’s shoulder I spotted these two round-bellied men trying to get their groove on. They were right at the edge of the room, shuffling, then standing still, and at one point attempting to clap along to the music. (I can’t really remember what song was playing, but it was not one that you clap along to.) I imagine they were not yet drunk enough to fully immerse themselves, but since they were both clad in white T-shirts, I prefer to think they were angels/bodyguards. I will probably never see them again, but I wish they could follow me around forever, or at least whenever I was dancing. —Naomi

ren faire barbarian (1)The Barbarian at the Ren Faire
Last summer, I went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire for the first time. As I expected, I saw all kinds of people in crazy costumes, like a pirate couple with their adorable pirate baby, lots of knights, loads and loads of gorgeous flower crowns, and some Star Wars dudes (hmm). But the first guy who really stopped me in my tracks and nearly caused me to trip over my flip-flops (I dressed up, but sadly realized at the last minute that I did not have proper footwear, so minus two stars for me) was a short, rotund man in his 40s. He wore a pair of leather straps that criss-crossed his chest over a fur shirt, except—WAIT, it was no shirt! It was actual body hair! Front and back! I had to applaud him for finding an opportunity to flaunt it. But I had to deduct a star because he wore glasses, which seemed anachronistic. —Stephanie

photo (3)Marco
Marco is my new best friend. He’s a construction worker from Poland who is currently building a wall in my house. There are lots of things that I love about Marco, but here are my top five: (1) He dresses like a heavy-metal roadie in 1987, complete with rock & roll T-shirts and long wavy hair. (2) He told my husband that he loves Vin Diesel. (3) He says everything is “cool, cool.” (4) He makes sweet little noises at my cats, who have fallen in love with him. And (5) he told us that he’s going to miss us. If everyone in the world were as nice as Marco, there would be world peace. Oh, and if I could give him an extra star for also possessing the ability to build stuff, I would. —Emma S.

missleonMiss Leont
My high-school English teacher, Miss Leont, intrigued all of us. She had the attitude of the Dowager Countess of Grantham and the style of a finishing school teacher: She wore a freshly pressed pencil skirt every day in a different shade of pastel, or high-waisted jeans if it was cold. She had deep maroon hair, with a little gray peeking through, and perfect makeup. When she read a passage from The Great Gatsby, she insisted the word sexual was pronounced seks-you-al, and she was very curt with us at all times. When I told her I wanted to be a fashion-magazine editor, her expression turned grave and she laced her fingers beneath her chin and said, “You won’t make it. It’s a hard industry to break into—those women hold onto those jobs for years!” I was crushed and amused all at once. But she was a great teacher, and I give her five stars for having the admiration of most people in the school, yet keeping us at such a cool distance. —Nova

ouijaboardcomiccongirl (1)Elfin Girl with the Ouija-Board Shirt
At last year’s Comic-Con, I again saw all manner of costumes, including extremely faithful replications of Star Wars gear and some freakin’ adorable six-year-olds dressed as the Incredible Hulk. But I was most impressed by this adorable, badass elfin girl. She’d done everything I’d been too scared to do in high school: shaved her head, bleached the remaining quarter inch of hair blond, dyed her two little sideburns black, shaved her eyebrows and then drew them back on again with thick, perfectly arched black lines. The best accoutrement, though, was her Ouija-Board T-shirt. I spotted her while I was waiting in line for a panel featuring Jon Bernthal, who plays Shane on The Walking Dead. She was way ahead of me and when I got into the room she was waiting in line for the mic to ask him a question—something I wanted to do, but wasn’t brave enough to. She asked how Jon got his start in acting, which is basic enough, but he told this story about how he was a total troublemaker, but had an amazing teacher who changed his life and how now she was really sick, so he was grateful to have the opportunity to share the story. He almost teared up! It was the most genuine, heartfelt response of all of the panels I attended, and this girl is awesome for not only asking the question, but for being so totally herself. —Stephanie


  • flapperhatgirl May 30th, 2013 11:56 PM

    Oh my god, earlier this afternoon I was thinking about real people reviews and how they’re one of my favorite things on rookie. I love this so much.

  • Cassie N May 31st, 2013 12:39 AM

    ruby i can relate!

  • myy May 31st, 2013 12:59 AM

    Love these! The vested rogue girl is my favorite!! haha…

  • kittyweasel May 31st, 2013 2:27 AM

    Tamale man sounds awesome! We have a tamale-lady (with her little boy) who goes door-to-door in my neighborhood every summer. I always buy like, 10, and probably alarm them with my enthusiasm for tamales.

  • Sophie ❤ May 31st, 2013 7:02 AM

    These were really GOOD! Ruby, especially!

  • wallflower152 May 31st, 2013 10:25 AM

    Ah I just said the other day that people reviews is prob my fav Rookie feature. It just makes you want to go out and people watch or strike up conversations with random interesting-looking people. : )

  • kendallkh May 31st, 2013 12:15 PM

    just the phrase “tuckered-out child” made me laugh out loud

  • christinachristina May 31st, 2013 1:35 PM

    ^Yeah, “tuckered-out child” is super hilarious.

    Also, Ruby, you HAVE to talk to her! What if she has a tshirt with your face on it?! What if she cut in front of you because she wanted you to make the first move?! What if she has the same flaws you have?! (Flaws are what make people Real Human Beings, anyway.)

    Don’t regret meeting her, dude. Dude! I’m very invested in this.

    • Ruby B. June 1st, 2013 10:23 AM

      Yesterday was her last day of school (she’s a senior) so I involuntarily chased her down the hallway and hugged her out of the blue, and then I screamed a speech about how much I loved and worshiped her (I can’t remember what I said because of post-hug euphoria). Then I said sorry and ran away.
      She chased after me with her friends and I thought they were going to beat me up or something. Then she asked for another hug and I flabbergastedly did, and she said “You are too cute!” Then I said “acfgvdbh,zdhzvfkjh” and walked into a wall, and then she left.

      • strawberryhair June 1st, 2013 3:06 PM

        Omg that is how I react to people I like

      • indaslicht June 1st, 2013 4:11 PM

        like a scene out of a movie

        • strawberryhair June 1st, 2013 4:19 PM

          Internet people are my friends

      • Yayo June 4th, 2013 3:34 PM

        Oh my gosh Ruby that’s amazing!

        There’s this girl in my year and she’s literally THE most beautiful person ever. And she has the best taste in clothes and music and has such an amazing Bitch Face that she pulls off all the time, totally flawlessly.

        I SO wish I could tell her how obsessed I am.

  • all-art-is-quite-useless May 31st, 2013 2:02 PM

    i love real people reviews! I wish my town had a tamale person…

  • eliza dolittle May 31st, 2013 3:34 PM


    i work at a chicken butcher, and out the back there are the benches near the windows where we cut up chicken, and the benches at the back where we do the paper work.

    you better believe i bring in a pillow and a blanket and nap a metre above the ground on a metal bench on my break.

    so. good.

  • GlitterKitty May 31st, 2013 3:38 PM

    These are all so awesome! My real person review goes out to this guy I saw yesterday. It was quite hot so I guess he wanted to go outside for some fresh air. Pretty normal. Except for the fact that he was sitting ON TOP of that little awning thing that covers the front door of his house. It was this nice flat thick one but probably only about 1 m squared in size. He was just sitting on a bucket reading a book. I’m so bummed I didn’t get a picture but this guy was awesome. I don’t even understand how he got up there. 1000000 stars for him.

  • I W May 31st, 2013 4:03 PM

    I feel like I should add The Girl On the Tube to this. Basically, I was on the tube, and there was this girl sitting opposite me who was just the coolest person ever. She was dressed entirely in black with this huge black wool coat and she was wearing black raybans- on the tube! Underground! In October! I normally hate it when people wear sunglasses inside but for some reason they just looked really good on her. Anyway, the only thing that wasn’t black was her lip piercing, which was a gold spike through her lower lip and she didn’t move at all in the entire journey (it was about twenty minutes) except to move the spike up and down with her tongue. I don’t know why she made such a big impression on me, but I really wanted to be her or at the very least be her best friend.

  • aaahhh June 1st, 2013 9:49 AM

    @Ruby B: I know this feeling so well!
    And I think you should definitely talk to her (or at least send her a Facebook-message). Believe me, it’s going to be totally alright and it’s going to feel really good (I’ve been there, so I kind of know… :)). I’m pretty sure that she is a nice person and that her reaction to whatever you’ll say will be very positive (maybe just honestly tell her you think she’s pretty cool? People actually really like hearing that about themselves ;) Or just casually wish her luck for her future? She is, after all, graduating…)
    I really hope that you will find the courage to talk to her, because I get the feeling that you actually really would like to do it and that it’s important to you. I’m quite sure that it would be a great experience, so… Just go for it :) I will keep my fingers crossed for you (and I hope that if you decide to talk to her, you will write about it for Rookie – I would love to know how it felt and how she reacted etc. :))

  • elliecp June 4th, 2013 2:54 PM

    This is so cool. I always see cool people and this us such a nice celebration of them…I love the cool neighbour, his comeback was so funny…’I've been called worse!’

  • letthemeatkake June 5th, 2013 1:11 PM

    I Saw “The Barbarian at the Ren Faire” last summer in Bristol too! Gahh interwebz connections. So excited to attend again this summer!

  • Ella W June 11th, 2013 5:47 PM

    Anna, thanks for the heads up on that 5th wave book! I love reading books before they get big, and I get a huge amount of satisfaction when I say, “oh, ‘The Hunger Games’ yeah I read that YEARS ago”.

  • Ting June 11th, 2013 10:27 PM

    OH MY GOSH! When I saw this was posted, I got so excited since Real People Reviews are one of my favorite things on Rookie! The Tamale Man story made my day. :)

  • cocolith June 13th, 2013 2:00 AM

    I absolutely love these real people reviews! Each one is so refreshingly hilarious! What a great way to document weird/ comical moments (like when your customer starts sleeping on your floor). Loved that one! The Tamale man was a sweet story too!

  • Pluiie July 9th, 2013 1:35 AM

    This Girl I Have A Crush On was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. I can sympathize sooo well. When I fall for someone, I fall hardddd. I wish someone cute felt that way about me!!!!!