On the elevator today a young lady and her toddler got on mid-flight (or is it "mid-ride"?) and I noticed the lil' moppet was staring at me as though entranced--the sight of a business-casual attired office jockey was fascinating to the little dude! I remarked that he was a curious little guy, and the mother laughed and said that he can only get away with that when he's little. I got to thinking, how true that is! Fifteen years from now--when a Coke will cost eight bucks at a restaurant, when China buys California from us, and when Jenna Bush is Vice President--that kid will have learned the cardinal rule of staring.
What is this cardinal rule? Depending on what you're staring at:
1) Men. Don't stare at men. Unless you're a toddler, you'll weird us out.
2) Tits. As they said on Seinfeld, it's natural to stare at tits, just treat it like a solar eclipse--look quickly, then look away!
3) A couple fighting. Stare long and hard. They should be embarrassed to fight in public.
4) When wearing sunglasses. Don't think this gives you total freedom to stare. I had a friend who once wore glasses on a commuter train, and figured he could stare at a woman across from him with impunity. After a few minutes the woman asked another commuter if she could trade places, because "that weird guy in sunglasses keeps staring at me". I laughed my ass off when he told me that story.
5) At a mugger who is mugging you. A good idea if you want to identify him to police, but don't get caught staring too long--he may want to eliminate witnesses.