Tag Archives: overheard

‘Water. Water. Yep, that’s it. Bye, love you.’

She must be a S_____ coach—she is wearing a gray shirt with red collar and stripe from collar down shoulder. She says it’s about “40 from S_____”—40 minutes—

And where was I? Oh, the camping dude said he takes his kids camping because he camped as a kid—and this Gray Shirt says she’d like to be back for 4th hour today … and keep that class on same schedule as others—”15 teachers out at the high school”—and 5-6 each building—”GOOD IDEA,” she sarcasted. “Our building has sickness, like, crazy.” “30% of our kids gone.” She’s snippy, but she seems to think she’s interesting and her complaining is interesting.

Wow, look at me being snarky—and judgy. But this lady is the one who had to listen to the Python girl last break. “What kind of superintendent thinks a district our size could cover 28 subs in one day?” for some training for the teachers. “It’s insane to have” so many teachers gone.

And back to me. Why did this camping guy brag about how he takes his kids camping and how “that’s not us”?

This lady also said she didn’t get the “awards were postponed” [message]. Gray Lady still complains about the many people gone for training: “That’s what that’s for—that’s what those are for,” and she doubts that “some guy from Stevenson” is gonna be able to speak to S___ [school’s] particular situation.

“So? You don’t wash those. Water. Water. Yep, that’s it,” says Gray Lady to her phone. “Bye, love you.”

“‘Can you wash suede heels?’ Yeah, she’s a freshman” at college, says Gray Lady.

[From journal of Thurs. 14 March 2019, Journal 300, page 139-42]

‘We Need More Bus’: My Students Explain Things

Here are things I’ve overheard my high school students say in recent days.

1. “I hate gravity because it throws my stuff on the ground,” said student.

2. “Sometimes when I tuck in my shirt, I tuck in my hair, too, ” said long-haired student.

3. “I got in trouble because I was lookin’ up cat herpes or something, ” said senior student.

4. “It’ll be funny SOMEday,” said senior girl after a senior boy sustained an injury while engaged in what the oldtimers would have unironically called “horseplay. ”

5. “We need more bus,” said a student on a school bus that was more full than usual but wasn’t actually all that full. “Double up. Quit your whining,” deadpanned the bus driver.

6. “I’m not that smart, I promise,” said sophomore student after I told her to stay away from my computer so I didn’t suspect her of changing grades.

7. “This is from, like, a decade ago,” said senior girl as she turned in an assignment due 3 weeks ago. “You did this when you were 8?” I replied.

8. “I want to be a satyr,” said sophomore boy as our class discussed the Greek god Dionysus and his followers. “Are you saying you don’t have big man-parts?” asked sophomore girl.

‘He’s stabbing her bun’: Quotes of the week!

Here’s the countdown of the best quotes I overheard from my students this week:

5. “He’s stabbing her bun,” said a girl as a boy was pushing a pencil into another girl’s hair.

4. Two young women in the hallway. One said, “You don’t give ME any gum.” The other answered, “I’m just saying, I’m giving you gum right now.”

3. In an argument between a boy and girl about outdoorsmen’s excretory practices, student said, “I know five hunters who took a crap in the woods.”

2. Student informed the class (during work-time) that she expected to be grounded Saturday for what she would be doing on the Friday night yet to come. When her mom asks what she did, student can’t lie, she said, adding, “They say they love you but I don’t think they do.” Classmate asked for clarification: “Are you talking about your mother?” Yes, student said.

And the week’s best quote is: 

1.  After student said he didn’t like a girl’s shoes, another girl said that was like saying he didn’t like her face. He answered, no, it wasn’t like that at all because “you don’t go out and buy a pair of face.”


At the diner: ‘Who needs a spanking?’

Sunday morning, Sunrise diner. A local Realtor(tm) walks up to a table of younger adults and children and says, “Who needs a spanking?” To one girl of about seven years, he says, “I KNOW you do.” He leaves, and a couple minutes later, a white woman comes to the same table and says, “Is everybody behaving over here? Or did my husband already get that taken care of?”

Also this morning: the classic Old Farmer conversation at the diner about The Price Of Corn. I had to pinch myself: two adult white men unironically using phrases like “three – dollar corn” and “some politics in there too.”

‘An ear-splitting shriek’ heard in Madison

1. Last night,  at the Union Terrace at Madison, on the outdoor seating above the boathouse, one middle-aged white dude told another middle-aged white dude about his job testing aircraft engines, and how, after one test, he received this note:

Pilots report an ear-splitting shriek whenever they turn on the environmental control system.”

[If this information helps anyone score a big win in the stock market, you’re welcome.]

2. “Walter!” shouted a young woman, at a table with several other young women, to a young man on the sidewalk below our outdoors balcony. “It’s Lilly and Willa!”  she near-rhymed. And then when the boy told them he was coming up, one young woman said to the others, “be nice to him.”

Later on, one of the girls also said, “The fact that I got into a fight with my best friend at Ed Debevic‘s makes me so unhappy.”

And also later, a girl also told another one, “the second you left, he got normal — well, as normal as an actor can get.”

3. Later, about 9 p.m. on State Street, near the Triangle Market, one girl walking with other girls said,

If you tweeted about me falling, I didn’t actually touch the ground.”

4. And walking down on State Street, I told my wife that, probably 80 years ago, my great-great-grandfather had “a dentist appointment” someplace nearby. My wife said that wasn’t really all that noteworthy. I said, approximately, “well, he was the dentist, so, I’m sure he had lots of appointments.”

‘I lost valiantly’: Overheard quotes of the week

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.