I listen. Sometimes I hear things I feel are worth writing down. Here are some recent things. Some of these overheard things are funny in context; some may be more amusing when read out of context.
1. Last weekend was my town’s festival. Think cover bands, Budweiser beer, and bronzed bros. I helped out, and felt important when I got to carry a walkie-talkie, over which I heard (with no explanation) a man’s voice:
“Rachel, I have your big one, and it works phenomenally.”
2. After the festival shut down at midnight, many people went to nearby McDonald’s. My wife and I saw several women in their early 20s sing-shout a spontaneous, acapella version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” (“BUM, Bum, bum.”) We also saw a table of 5 guys, who probably became legal to drink quite recently, and one of these guys said,
“I can’t get rid of these fuckin’ hiccups, bro.”
One of these five young men was wearing red jeans. A comrade of his said,
“I’m gonna rip those f***ot-ass pants off your body.”
Red Jeans answered, “Your mom likes these pants.”
Comrade: “I doubt it.”
A few minutes later, two local police officers came into McDonald’s. Red Pants decides to ask one officer for a ride home.
Officer: “Call your parents.”
Red Pants: “My dad hates me.”
Officer: “Call your friends.”
Red Pants: “All my friends are here.”
Officer: “You need some new friends.”
Red Pants: “Touche’, touche’.” (I heard, “too-SHAY, too-SHAY”)
Before long, Red Pants and the officer were having a rock-paper-scissors contest for a ride home. Red Pants counts off, “one-two-three, shoot,” and after three rounds, the officer was acknowledged as winner.
Red Pants said, “I gotta walk home as a loser.”
Later, as the officers were leaving, Red Pants or one of his buddies called out, “Have a good night. Don’t arrest me.”
Once the officers left, Red Pants shared his post-Rochambeau analysis: “I came out strong. He was thinking too much. … I lost valiantly.”
Another one of the dudes commented again on the pants: “I don’t give a fuck about your red ‘Jersey Shore’ pants.”
At this point, Red Pants appealed for a fashion decision to two women, apparently in their late 20s or early 30s, sitting nearby.
One woman said, “I’m not prejudiced against pants. But I also live with a guy who just kicked your ass at rock-paper-scissors.”
The woman later said they were teachers, and asked if they were from a nearby town where she taught. One of the boys mentioned another teacher, a Mrs. Tib-oh-doh (spelled “Thibodoux”?). The teacher said, “Mrs. Tib-oh-doh is related to everyone.” Responded one of the boys, “You calling her a whore?”
Later, after the teacher corrected one of Red Pants’ statements, he said, “Oh, ‘Missus I-didn’t-get-my-grammar-right-at-one-twenty-four-in-the-morning’.” (I was surprised and impressed that he had actually gotten the time my phone also showed.)
The boys continued talking to the women, but the boys’ attentions faded as one of them said, “when they know my friends’ parents, I’m out.”
After the boys had left and the first woman went to the restroom, the second woman said, (seemingly to my wife and me),
“I have two little boys. I do NOT want them to grow up (short pause) — and be THAT.”
3. One of our regular waitresses at our regular diner looked at my sweat-soaked shirt and said to me and my wife, “I think he’s hot.” I said I’d ignore the context and take it as a compliment.
4. Nostalgia for the recent: In the last hours of the festival, on a hot Sunday afternoon, I heard a boy (of approximately 10 years) tell his friend, “Remember how much people there were last night?”
5. At my dentist’s office this week, an old man, there with his old wife, said to the daughter of a different old woman, “My dad died at fifty-eight, and here I am, the opposite numbers, eighty-five. … [the dad died on] Thanksgiving day of 1950” and “he died of uremic poisoning before they knew about dialysis.”
The old man said his father had worked too hard, and the daughter said, “You learned from him not to work 16-hour days?” The old man said he himself had worked hard, too. The daughter said, “You DIDN’T learn from him.”
Later, the old man’s wife talked about her cornea transplants of a few months back, and how she just had seven of the stitches removed, and there were nine more to go, and “That’s an experience you don’t want to go through” and it’ll still be some months before she knows if the transplants will really clear up her vision: “You’ve gotta be kidding. I don’t want to be 89 years old and not know if I’m gonna see.”
6. A woman who’s friends with my wife and me told us, “my husband has seen lots of boobs,” but she added that all the boobs belonged to her; she was speaking of “volume rather than quantity.”
7. Yesterday, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison bookstore, in the between the department of red Badger t-shirts and the department of notebooks, I heard a gray-haired fellow say to a boy of about 10 (perhaps his grandson?): “The number system you’re accustomed to is base-ten, right?” and the man soon asked the boy to convert from decimal to binary numbers: “‘Five’ is one-one-one” and the boy said, “‘Six’ is one-one-zero.” “Right,” said the older man — but who (if I heard and wrote accurately) was gonna correct HIS wrong conversion?
8. Last night, a friend over to our house was eating a lemon-bar food and getting attention from my dog and my friend said to my dog, “what makes you think any of this is coming your way?”
9. And earlier this week, a fellow-teacher was talking about her lack of familiarity with Greek myths we will start teaching to our high-schoolers in the coming year when she said, “theoretically, I’m supposed to be smarter than them.” Another colleague explained, of Zeus’s wife, “Hera’s just a vindictive bitch,” the “Erica Kane” of Greek mythology.
P.S. All the quoted material above is from notes I made in the immediate seconds after hearing the words spoken. I was not trying to listen in to any of these conversations; they were just happening around me, loud enough for me to hear them, and as such, these are public — not private — conversations, and therefore, in my opinion, ripe for the transcribing. Few people ever ask me what I’m writing — my assumption is that nobody is paying much attention to what a dude with a pen and a piece of paper is doing.