A term describing recreational activities that can be pursued, at little or no cost, in urban and suburban areas. These are not sports that require engaging in physical activity, nor do they involve cheering on someone else who is performing a physical activity. The following are examples of (sub)urban spectating sports commonly practiced in the Washington, D.C. area (and surely many other areas):

People watching

The most basic form of spectating, best done in shopping malls during the holiday season or from the vantage point of a coffee shop on a busy street. Can be done alone or with friends. Requires a vivid imagination and a knack for making fun of strangers. Others have already gone into this subject in depth, so I won't bother to elaborate more.

Mullet spotting

Often combined with people watching, but can be a sport in its own right. Requires a knowledge of basic mullet terminology and the verbiage to name new breeds of the infamous hairstyle. Expert mullet spotters may choose to use a camera, sketch pad and/or a journal to document their findings and share with their fellow hunters. The intensity of this sport will vary based on region.

Express lane extrapolating

An exercise in creativity. Examine what a person is buying in the express lane of the grocery store and think about what posessed them to make a special trip to the store for those few items (for example--three artichokes, generic glass cleaner, frozen tater tots and a bananna). Think about what they might be cooking, or pick out items that were just an impulse buy. Try to figure out which item(s) was the driving need, and which were just picked up because they were there. See what you can tell about the person by what they are buying.

Mansion gawking

Purely voyeuristic. Drive, walk or bike through the neighborhoods and the back roads where people with more money than they know what to do with have taken up residence. Gasp in awe and horror at the size and lavishness of their abodes. Compare the size of their chandeliers and the elaborateness of their gated front entrances. If traveling by car, go with a friend so you can take turns driving and gawking. Be sure to drive slow enough to anger the drivers who may get stuck behind you. Northern Virginia is prime territory for this activity, particularly McLean and Great Falls where palatial homes are nestled into hills overlooking the Potomac River and private tennis courts are practically commonplace. The entire NoVa area is sprinkled with subdivisions composed of the more modest "mcmansions." Having not practiced this sport elsewhere, I can't speak of other good locations for this, but a friend from California told me he and his friends used to do this in Beverly Hills.

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