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Best Places to See Scary People 

Vantage points for the discriminating people-watcher

Not counting the obvious -- politicians, police, and people who live in Walnut Creek -- there are scary people everywhere and, unfortunately, we encounter them every day. The one good thing about scary people, though, is that they're easy to identify. They can be spotted blithely gabbing away in movie theaters during the film; they are the bad drivers who don't know how to merge at the Berkeley/San Francisco interchange on Interstate 80, and in many cases they are our relatives. At times, we've all probably been guilty of being scary ourselves, although of course who wants to admit it? But if you want to be sure of spotting a few -- just to remind yourself of how not to be -- the East Bay has its fair share of vantage points:

Raiders games: Raiders fans are intensely proud of their badass reputation, and they cultivate their meanness as carefully as a gardener nurtures a rare orchid. You can find them in the stands, garbed in their trademark silver and black, gleefully throwing live bullets at the opposing team. And besides the yard at San Quentin, where else can ya catch folks throwing lit cigarettes?

Aerobics classes: There's something preternaturally frightening about those who teach aerobics. Sure, exercise is great, sort of, but the sight of a hopped-up, Spandex-clad instructor can be upsetting, especially before the morning's first cigarette and cup of coffee. And your average student's all right, but sometimes the huffing, puffing, grunting, panting, and gasping are straight out of a horror movie.

Your doorway: That is, when members of a proselytizing religious group are standing in it. There you are, sitting on the couch, engrossed in a commercial, when suddenly the doorbell rings. It's a tough call. You're torn between wanting to see how they get all that unwanted underarm hair off, but then again maybe the person at the door is dropping off a bouquet of roses. So you eagerly fling open the door without first looking through the peephole. Big mistake. Instead of the FTD guy, it's somebody wanting to talk about the Lord. What a bummer.

Peet's on the weekend: By far the scariest place on Earth. Hairy-legged aerobics teachers in bike shorts are barking orders at the poor barristas. People who look suspiciously like they're from Walnut Creek are ordering lattes all over the place. Oh, the humanity.

-- Michelle Turner

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