As a writer, I like to listen. Eavesdrop. Copy down passages of arguments between an Asian man and woman, sitting next to me at the chicken-wrap place on a particular evening. A lot of the time, I wonder why two people having a relationship argument where one person “wants to know where this is going” and another “just started a new job so there’s a lot going on and it’s hard to make any other committments at the moment” are doing it right next to me. It’s not like I’m ten feet away. I am sitting there eating my chinese chicken wrap, with a side of chicken pasta, and a water with a slice of lemon (although I’d much prefer the iced-tea with a hint of raspberry flavor) and I am eavesdropping.
I am copying down the argument word for word in my head.
I have to figure that, if I’m listening to other people’s conversations — that they too are listening to mine. And so I have tried, on many occasions to get others to react. For example:
A few weeks ago, in line for a movie:
Me: …And when the plutonium was delivered to my house, you can imagine how surprised I was because the leaders of the underground had already informed me that we would meet after it was dark, in a barren parking lot [much like that scene in Back to the Future] where we would exchange money for explosives… So when I opened the front door, a box of rice-chex in hand, I was a tad surprised…
Sometimes my friends play along…
Friend: Wow. Crazy.
Sometimes, they don’t.
Friend: Stop it. You’re embarassing me.
My favorite overheard conversation was when I was on an airport shuttle going to LAX and the driver was talking to a passenger in the front seat:
Passenger: That James Garner, man. He kicks ass.
Driver: James Garner!? That guy don’t kick ass.
Passenger: You ain’t seen James Garner lately? He’s still runnin’ around, kickin’ ass!
Driver: Naw. He’s drivin’ cars, man. Drivin’ cars.