I thought for a while I had invented a new word: “peopling.”

But nope. There is the definition in front of me: “persons collectively or in general.”

In any event, it was new to me, and the other night I went peopling at a restaurant.

Location is key. You need to see people coming and going and be able to view 8-10 tables from your central perch.

Truly, an airport is the best people place, but if you don’t feel like flying, a restaurant or a shopping mall will do.

Three things jumped out at me about people who eat out. I can remember back in my coming up days, you didn’t overdo it, but you presented yourself in decent attire.

Today, it seems people get home from work and dress down to go out for a meal. It’s like airplane dress styles, then and now.

Don’t be surprised if you think diners and fliers have just finished a marathon and decided to wear their jogging gear out.

Thing two, is that diners who eat out, as a percentage, and this is self-count research, seem to be heavier, like about 60 percent to 40.

It reminds me of our late Fort Bend golfing buddy, Marvin White, who ran the Purina Mill in Rosenberg. One day while swinging his perpetual 7-iron, Marvin proclaimed, “When I go out to eat, I’ll never eat a salad because all those people at the salad bar are fat.”

That’s a problem Marvin never had, and I’m convinced part of his DNA included barbed wire. I’ll wager his pants size never changed from the day he graduated high school through the rest of his life.

Thing three, if you are not concerned what cellular telephones are doing to our world and your families, you should be.

These electronic devices have ruined family communications, again according to my secret peopling research. But I’ve got back up.

According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, there are about 292.8 million cell phones in the U.S., and the Pew Research Center says more than 91 percent of adults have some type of device.

Add teens and younger, and you’re probably going to blow the wax out of your ears when you realize what a devastating blow this is to eye-to-eye social relations.

Where television used to be the nation’s best babysitter, the cell phone has taken over.

One of my restaurant peopling projects was a family of three, dad, mom and 17 to 20-year-old son. First, mom and son walked in with their noses in their phones. They could’ve been run over by a waiter and never known it.

I noticed son had a shiny nose-thingy and a haircut like that Beckam person. Not the soccer guy David, but his wife, Victoria. You know the cut. It’s long on one side and short on the other, and the hair hangs toward their mouth and covers the face like they have only one eye.

Mom also had a haircut that kept dropping off her ear, and she kept nervously flipping it back while massaging her cell. She needed a third arm for eating.

Sonny kept a cell pace, too, flipping his locks time and again. All the while, dad kept staring into space and sipping a glass of wine. Probably 20 words weren’t exchanged.

The next project was dad, mom and a younger daughter. Dad marched in first with in an active cell call while mom and daughter quietly followed.

That scene never changed. Dad ate, drank and chatted on his phone. Mom and daughter obediently sat there, but didn’t talk either.

My next culprits were two guys in work clothes with caps turned backwards. They evidently had talked to each other too much.

Or they were either chatting with each other on their phones across the table or were speaking to others the entire time. They ate, celled, paid and left.

By then, my research had upset my appetite.

I looked at my phone and it said. “Stop this. Go home.”

I did.

Reach BH at bhartman@hartmannews.com.

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