Do you hear what I hear?
I know eavesdropping is rude, but sometimes I can’t help it.
Like when some bozo is bellowing into a cell phone in the booth behind you, it’s hard to ignore the rant about his Mazda transmission being toast--and Amy Lou’s packed on 20 pounds, dude!
The funny thing is, I’m literally half-deaf (half in one ear, half in the other) and wear two hearing aids, but I overhear conversations all the time. I can’t make out what the preacher is saying from the pulpit, but can hear a soft voice saying “Remember Granny’s moonshine?” 15 feet away. It’s weird.
Important Note: It’s not just me who’s the eavesdropper in our house. Last week my husband heard me announce—to the dog, no less—“Whoops, we’re out of Band-Aids.”
He came around the corner with book in hand, reading glasses on his head and caution in his eyes. “Why does the dog need a Band-Aid?” he asked, cautiously. (My husband, you may have guessed, is a cautious man.)
“She doesn’t. I do. I have a blister,” I replied.
“Then why did you tell Nicky we were—never mind,” he sighed. He knew he didn’t want to hear the answer, which would be something along the lines of, “Well, why WOULDN’T she want to know?”
Here are just a few overheard (and partly heard) lines that have come my way recently. And it’s not like I hang out in weird places; I haven’t been to a biker bar in years. (Long story, that.) You can hear the most amazing things in a drugstore, at the airport, waiting in line or sitting in the vet’s office.
“…. afraid of hogs since she was four.”
“Her husband found out she was cheating when he saw another man’s name tattooed on her rear.”
“I can’t eat artichokes. They actually make me choke.”
“Ray Romano—isn’t he that red-headed guy?”
“ …. prayed for Teddy Kennedy.”
“I haven’t liked cats since Uncle Julius died.”
“…. It’s a fruit compote, how hard can it be?”
“Did you know you can’t mail a live snake?”
“… a 20-pound test line!”
“He won’t admit it, but I KNOW who he voted for.”
“Heartburn is in your head.”
“… never was his kid.”
“Doctor Oz says hang upside down like a bat.”
The funniest thing I think I’ve ever overheard was months ago, in the parking lot of the Bi-Lo grocery on Orangeburg Road. I walked by two men deep in conversation next to a beat-up pickup truck. One was about 20 years older than the other.
Just as I passed the older man growled, “I want your refrigerator off my porch, boy. I got better places to keep my beer.”
You know how sometimes the planets align and all the elements fall into place and you witness something you realize is the funniest thing you will ever see or (over)hear? That was this. A perfect moment.
My knees buckled and my eyes rolled up--if I hadn’t been wearing sunglasses I’d have been a goner. By the time I staggered into the vestibule, I had one hand clapped over my mouth and was shaking with suppressed hysterics.
I grabbed the handle of a grocery cart and doubled over laughing. Naturally, people gave me a wide berth, like I was drunk or crazy.
I haven’t laughed that hard since—well, ever. I still wonder about that fridge. And the beer.
Julie R. Smith, who wrote this column while fighting off a Thanksgiving sugar coma, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.