The perils of eavesdropping

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eavesdroppingI hate it when people eavesdrop. And now you should step far away from me, because I’m going to be struck by lightning for being a total hypocrite. I don’t like it when people eavesdrop on my conversations, but I feel an intense desire to eavesdrop on others. It’s an affliction. I could blame it on the fact that no one seems to have a public filter anymore — people will loudly discuss the most horrendous of personal habits right in the middle of the produce aisle at Kroger, and for some strange reason, they feel if you can only hear one side of the conversation they’re having on the cell phone you won’t mind knowing that Mindy is a total skank.

George and I have been together 20 years, and we have a very specialized language. If someone who doesn’t know us is listening to our conversation, they’re extremely likely to hear something bizarre, that makes absolutely no sense at all to them, but perfect sense to us. I do the same thing with my brothers — it drives Mom crazy when we’re all together. She swears she never knows what any of us is talking about. When people know each other well, they communicate differently.

We were walking down the street in Yellow Springs, Ohio. There was a group of kids hanging out in front of the coffee shop. As we passed, I heard someone say, “Hey Monique, I hope the exorcism goes OK.”


I knew George heard it, because he grabbed my elbow and guided me through the crowd.

“Wait, don’t you want to know about Monique’s exorcism?”

“No I do not. I don’t want to know anything about anyone who needs an exorcism. Especially in a crowd.”

And so we missed out on an awesome opportunity to hear about an exorcism, but you can bet if I ever see Monique again, I’m going to ask her about it. She’ll probably be as annoyed as I was when the buttinsky who listened to George and I talk about putting our really old dog down tried to give us friendly advice. She listened to our entire conversation, which included phrases like, “We should take him with us and put him down while we’re on the road,” and “We definitely shouldn’t bury him in the yard. It freaks everyone out when the coyotes try to dig dead stuff up.” As we were leaving the restaurant, she approached George and handed him a card from her veterinary office, and offered to discuss “price for disposal” if he wanted to call her. Without missing a beat, he pocketed the card and said, “Well thank you so much. We only want the best for Grandpa.”

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