The monkey game

Sometimes when I’m in a public place, I like to amuse myself by playing what I call the “monkey game.” I look at people going by and try to observe them as if I were a primatologist. I ignore what they’re saying (and even the very fact that their verbalizations have any meaning at all) and set aside any sophisticated human psychological concepts. Instead, I try to interpret their behavior by putting it into a few basic categories that an ethologist might use when observing any social species: dominance displays, grooming, alliance-building, territoriality, various mating-related behaviors (attracting, maintaining, guarding), etc.

It’s amazing how much behavior you can make sense of with this sort of reverse anthropomorphizing. Try it next time you’re at the mall.