Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm not eavesdropping, I'm researching

I wasn't trying to listen, I promise. But I couldn't help myself. You'd have done the same, I'm sure.

Yesterday I was in the waiting room of a doctor's office, and I honestly was reading a book at first. But then I overheard a woman on the phone across the room, and from then on I was doing a very good impression of someone reading a book. I wish I caught the beginning of the call, but at the point I started listening, her side of the conversation went something like this:

"I was naked when they pepper-sprayed me and tied me to the gurney."

I wonder what the normal people (i.e. non-writers) in the room were thinking at the time. Maybe something like, "What a weirdo" or "Damn, I hate it when that happens."

But of course I'm thinking, "That is awesome."

And then my brain started filling in the details. Which was a bit of a challenge, because I was still trying to listen to the rest of the conversation (The phrase, "Why? 'Cause men are crazy, that's why?" came up too). But as other people were probably thinking about moving away from this woman, I was leaning in closer to try to learn more (while still staring at the same page of my book.)

Under what circumstances would something like this happen? Let's see...a gurney implies there were paramedics there, so someone must have been injured. Who called them? Perhaps the police? They had a reason to arrest her, maybe at home where she happened to be naked, then pepper-sprayed her because she was getting violent? That's quite a picture. For some reason handcuffing her wasn't adequate, so the gurney and restraints became necessary at some point.

And what's it like to be this woman's neighbor? I bet this wasn't the first incident of crazymaking. You don't lead a perfectly normal life, taking out the trash on Thursday mornings, weeding the flower beds, checking the mail, then suddenly find yourself naked on a gurney. At least I don't think so. Let me know if you've had a different experience. So she's probably a regular source of entertainment and/or annoyance. What does someone across the street see when they peek through the curtains at her? (And you know they're peeking.) She's probably not the person you'd trust to take care of your cat while you're on vacation. Or your plants, come to think of it.

Then I started introducing her in my head to other interesting people I've met and wondering how they'd interact. Like our handyman who was usually drunk by 11 A.M. (I affectionately call him "Drunken Handyman Guy.") They'd make an interesting couple. And by "interesting," I mean, "they'd probably murder each other." Or what if Drunken Handyman Guy and Pepper-Sprayed And Tied To A Gurney Naked Lady had kids? Yikes! What would they be like? Or what if they were YOUR parents?

So, do you find yourself doing the same thing--listening to conversations around you and making up stories about them?

Now I'm concerned that people will be afraid to talk in front of me, fearing they'll end up in a book somehow. Um...don't worry. I'm not listening. Really. Keep talking. This book I'm reading has my full attention.


  1. Ha Ha!! Yes, I am always listening, watching, taking mental notes ... no one is safe!!

  2. LOL! Yes. That's why I love writer-people! We are curious. We don't shy away, we want to investigate. Understand. Relate. Normal people don't like what they understand. Writers, however, embrace the unknown!!!!!

    yeeee hawwww!!!! Life is an adventure.

    Writers are adventurous! Don't mind getting themselves dirty :0) the rest ... wrap themselves in bubble wrap. (AKA, modern day mummies)

    Christy (via Verla Kay)

  3. Good to know I'm not the only one. I think it's great for getting a feel for dialogue too.

    Yes, toss aside the bubble wrap!

  4. Dude, I *totally* eavesdrop in places like the doctor's office or on the train or in a coffee shop. Today people talk on their cell phones in public places as if they were in their bedrooms at home. It's like their conversation is in its own little protective bubble or something, so they go on and on about private things. Things I wouldn't dream of mentioning in public.

    I love it!

    Is that so wrong??

  5. Not wrong at all!

    Yes, cell phones make the eavesdropping much more convenient. Speaker phone conversations are annoying, but at least you get to hear both sides.