Eavesdropping is rude. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. I like gardening, kickboxing, and eavesdropping.
I used to think that it was ease dropping. Like you got to sit around taking it easy and lean gently in the direction of the strange guys sitting at the food bar at the Target. And when I say strange, I mean one of the guys resembled a poorly groomed bear and the other one, a taller version of a poorly groomed bear with a wolverine living on his face, but those guys never really said anything to overhear. They just stared a hole through me and growled under their breath.
Trying to overhear what those two guys were growling was not my finest eavesdropping moment.
At some point, I was informed that it’s really eavesdropping and not ease dropping; it’s eavesdropping like hanging from the eaves of a house like a mud dauber or a bat and listening in on other people’s conversations—ease, eaves, okay whatever. It’s fun.
I reassure myself that because I’m a writer and therefore an artist (pronounced ar’TEEST) it’s okay for me to hang from the eaves, mud dauber-like. It’s also okay for me to construct nests made out of mud and spit. It’s not just okay for me to behave this way; it’s part of my job description. I am a serious observer of the human condition.
Note: Gossip is the wicked stepsister of eavesdropping, and I will probably burn in a fiery pit of bottomless spitty mud when I die, but man oh man, will I have some great stories to tell.
Until then, here’s a sample of a few gems that I’ve collected over the years while hanging upside down from the eaves.
“No, really it’s true. You can pull down six figures a year doing weaves,” a young man said.
“Wow, can you do a weave for me, right now?” the young woman asked.
“No, weave classes cost extra at beauty school and I haven’t enrolled yet.”
(A conversation overheard of two recent public school graduates chatting about the potential earning power of the average hair weaver. They both had shiny, luxurious hair.)
“Lunatic scrap-bookers. Who knew?” (A comment made by a traveler on an airplane after being knocked over by two excited, disembarking scrapbook conventioneers. The man was not harmed.)
“When was the last time you saw survivors clinging to their seat cushions after a plane crash?” (Sarcastic comment made after the requisite safety video on board a commercial airplane. Oh wait; I said that.)
“I’d like to get my husband involved [in scrapbooking], but his idea of being involved is getting his hands all over me.” (Overhead after a scrapbooking convention in Orlando, Florida)
“Mommy, are you still there?” The little girl asked from inside the bathroom stall.
Holding the stall door closed for her daughter, her mom said, “Yes.”
“Will you be waiting for me?”
“Yes; why?” The mom asked sounding a little surprised by the question.
“Because I like it when you’re standing right next to me.”
(Conversation overheard in a bathroom between a little girl and her mommy. One of my favorites.)
Writing is a solitary activity. There’s only room for one person to type on my laptop at a time, but the collection of characters, words, thoughts, ideas, behaviors, descriptions, and responses that make up a story, blog, or poem is OUT THERE, sitting at the food bar at the local Target, growling, for no apparent reason.
Linda Zern’s Writing Tip # 57: Get out there and pick a good spot away from drain spouts and bug zappers. Hang quietly. Listen carefully. Bring a notebook. And hear the stories happening all around you.
Linda (Big Ears) Zern