Thursday, October 18, 2007


I do
a little eavesdropping almost every day.

My favorite source for overheard conversations is the eavesdropwriter. The blogger doesn't just capture the content of the conversations; she brilliantly portrays the context as well. We see through her a subtle touch of a hand, a lone tear streaming down a cheek, the bob of a head.

I've recently discovered that I'm a prime source for other eavesdroppers. When my friend and cancerbanter reader, Myrna, called me from Arizona, she exclaimed, "You life is so darn interesting." "You should hear the parts that don't make it to the blog!" I confessed.

A few weeks ago, a breakfast buddy and I ate at Russell's, where the tiny tables are just an elbow apart. After an animated conversation about one of our favorite writers, Naomi Hirahara, the two women seated next to us politely interrupted and asked us to write down the name of the author.

I went on to bring my friend up to date on my life. Before long, I realized that the elderly couple seated on our other side had slowed their conversation. They eventually stopped talking completely and tilted their heads in my direction. I became acutely aware of the absurdity of my monologue: My conversation with the warden of a prison about testing an inmate for a stem cell match; my successful private eye work in tracking down my long-lost younger brother (the victim of the dirt clod), who has been living in a homeless shelter in Illinois.

The same thing happened at an Indian restaurant in Old Pas. My friend and I are both having lots of "Jerry Springer" moments in our lives, thanks to our challenging children. We both started laughing out loud when we realized what eavesdroppers must think about us.

Given a choice, I think I'd much rather be an eavesdropper than an eavesdroppee, but, at least for now, this is my life in all of its absurd glory.

What about you? Are you eavesdrop-worthy?


Vienne said...

Hello Susan, thank you very much for linking to Eavesdrop Writer here. Very generous of you! I'm so pleased you appreciate my nuances. I think transporting readers into the scene is my ultimate goal as a writer. What they think or do from that point on is beyond my keyboard. You have a powerful blog. I enjoy your writing, as well. Thanks again, Vivienne

Anonymous said...

My life goes in cycles of interest. We have bouts of trials and learning experiences that sharpen us, followed by a normal "rest period." 2006 was eavesdrop~worthy, as we had my struggle through menegitis - vision trouble - memory problems coupled with Travis's great motorcycle crash and then 3 foster kids that were blog material in and of themselves. Once the baby left in December 2006, we've had almost a year of calm.

There have been other cycles, like the events that surrounded the births of both our children, that would have been blog worthy, if I had known of such technology at the time. And life overseas provides an abundance of stories for the internationally minded to take interest in.

All that to say, events in our lives aren't popping all that much now, but that is no complaint! We are enjoying the calm!!

Lilli said...

Sisters of the homeless brothers unite! We could have our own club, one I'm sure no one else would really want to join. So that's potentially eavesdrop worthy, although I fear few eavesdroppers would really understand the complexities involved in such a situation.

I would like to think some of my travels are worthy of eavesdropping, that people are as interested in different people and places as I am. But I think people are more interested when things aren't going so well.

When you realize someone is eavesdropping, is it ever tempting to call them on it? To invite them to just pull up a chair?

Lisa C. said...

Well, I don't know about being eavesdropping worthy, but I did hear this conversation in a diner awhile back:

Man: Is it the tuna sandwich?
Woman: It's not the tuna sandwich Fred, it's the last five years!

Susan Carrier said...

"We have bouts of trials and learning experiences that sharpen us."

This is so key. Many people live in chaos or tribulation, but never grow or learn from the experiences.

I've always wondered about the line between "overhearing" and "eavesdropping." Is one accidental and the other purposeful?

More than once in my life, I've had strangers interrupt me with, "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help hearing your conversation." This comment is usually followed with unsolicited advice or a recommendation. That's how I found Dr. Chang!

My most unsatisfying eavesdropping took place in 1975. I was a college senior and spent part of my Christmas vacation with a good friend from Claremont. I took the LAX shuttle from the Huntington Hotel on New Year's Eve.

I was overwhelmed by the opulence of the hotel (marble floors, crystal chandeliers, massive flower arrangements) and even more impressed by the glamour of the guests (formal gowns, fancy jewelry, fur coats).

I couldn't imagine what such fancy people talked about, so I drew close enough to eavesdrop. Boy, was I disappointed. "And then our clothes washer overflowed and we had to get a new one."

Lisa C. said...

I think one of the funniest eavesdrop conversations was when I went to the annual UCLA book festival for the first time a few years was really, really hot and the book stalls seemed to be geared mostly towards adults, yet there were little children everywhere and even babies in strollers. All of a sudden I saw a 10 year-old girl stamp her feet, burst out crying and say to her parents:

"You knew I didn't want to come here! I hate it and I hate YOU!"


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