Dreams really do come true. Keep dreaming!
It seems I’m always jotting down notes and story ideas, sometimes even waking in the middle of the night with some thought that won’t let me get back to sleep until I put it somewhere. This post is actually a creative writing idea that first came to me many years ago and has continued nudging me countless times throughout my life: moments while in a checkout line, passing people on escalators or in skywalks, in the hallways at work, over cubicle walls, on elevators, in waiting rooms and restrooms, at restaurants, in parking lots, pedaling past people while on my bike, riding on a bus or a plane or a train, and even while stopped at a traffic light with the car windows rolled down. Random moments when I happened to become privy to an overheard conversation, sometimes for only a partial phrase or sentence, and sometimes much longer than I really wanted to be hearing it.
If I taught a creative writing course, this would be one of the assignments – for one week, just listen and pay attention to the conversations around you and then jot down some of those spoken words. When you have about 20 phrases written down, add your own comments or observations or maybe even write an ending to the conversation.
As you might imagine, I’ve heard some bizarre and seemingly crazy and oftentimes hilarious things from people, or at least they sounded that way to me. Of course I wasn’t always hearing the whole conversation, or even both sides of it for that matter. But I am convinced that some people should never be allowed to use a cell phone in public, or at least until they’ve learned better manners or how to talk more quietly while on the phone.
I probably need to add a disclaimer right about now. First of all so you don’t think I’m some intentional eavesdropper, I didn’t go out of my way to hear any of these conversations; they came to me. Secondly, there is a chance some of what I heard and wrote down, might not have been verbatim. Case in point, my blog post from this month, entitled: Don’t Die Now, where I shared what I thought I’d heard and what was actually said. They were two totally different things.
Throughout the years I’ve been jotting down all kinds of snippets of words on little slips of paper, deposit slips, grocery store receipts, or any other pieces of paper I happened to find in the moment, generally discovered and pulled from the inside of my purse or other bag I was carrying at the time. Sometimes it was after I’d arrived at home when the conversation or the thoughts played back in my mind. I’ve also written down a lot of notes in my various pocket Moleskines and even entered some in my iPhone. In probably every case, the phrases that I kept or recorded had a lot more words either leading up to them or following the ones that I thought worth saving. And when digging through my stash of saved words, I found a number of pieces of paper with scribbled stuff that may not have even been overheard conversations, but they seemed like they belonged here too. Isn’t that after all what creative writing is all about?
So in no special order, here is a sampling of some OVERHEARD CONVERSATIONS with my added comments in italics.
HE WOULDN’T HAVE SAID IT IF HE’D MEANT IT – which would mean, when he did say it he didn’t mean it. I think the speaker tripped on their words, but it still made me chuckle to myself and do a double take. Then again, maybe I heard it wrong.
ADD THE CHOCOLATE, ALTHOUGH IT’S OPTIONAL – I don’t know what they were making or what recipe they were following, but I ask you, when is chocolate EVER optional?
COULD YOU POSSIBLY BE MORE RANDOM? – The answer is of course, yes.
I’D DIE IF ANYONE KNEW THIS ABOUT ME – a woman sitting on a very crowded train car only a couple of seats ahead of me, proceeded rather loudly to go into very graphic detail on her cell phone about some very private female ailment that she was receiving medical care for…I wanted to put my fingers in my ears and say out loud, “la la la la la la la la…” I don’t think I was alone.
I DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING AFTER THAT – oh man. I wondered if they were trying to recite the number sequence for Pi or simply recalling an overly eventful night out.
IF I HAD A QUARTER FOR EVERYTIME I’VE HEARD YOU SAY THAT, I WOULDN’T EVEN HAVE A DOLLAR. – I burst out laughing when I heard this, because I often use this analogy, only I generally end it with – I could retire. Why in the world would anyone even bother using it to reference 75 cents? Or maybe, they were just trying to be funny.
USUALLY I’M SMARTER AFTER 3 BEERS – honey, no one is smarter after 3 beers.
OKAY. MAYBE WHEN YOU’RE 16 – the only thing I could come up with — maybe when you’re 16 you’ll go out on your first date or get your license or drive the car.
IRREGARDLESS, TAKE THE JOB. – Since irregardless is not a word and two negatives would mean the opposite, DO NOT take the job. Regardless of what anyone else has (or what I just) said.
WE SHOULD HAVE THE RESULTS SOMETIME NEXT WEEK. – I immediately said a prayer for good results and the right outcome.
I SO WISH I’D TOLD HIM – it’s interesting how a few simple words can be taken in so many different ways. Who knows what they were wishing to have said, but I thought they might be some words of apology or love, or maybe something in a totally different wavelength and much sassier than what I was thinking.
MY FAVORITE QUESTION OF ALL TIME – when someone says something with added words like favorite or of all time, I’m generally all ears. Only for some reason I didn’t hear the words that came next. The first question or thought that comes to my mind now is, ‘Will you marry me?”
LISTEN. WAIT TWO WEEKS, THEN BURN IT. – I still crack up when thinking about these words. What the heck was going to be turned into charcoal in two weeks? I imagined it was some important documents or secret letters or a journal…or maybe a REALLY expensive candle.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? I’M NOT KIDDING. YOU’D BETTER BE JOKING. – I don’t know, but this conversation had so much joking and kidding in it, I couldn’t help laughing. I’m serious, and I’m not kidding or joking, even now it cracks me up.
AM I SERIOUS? AM I SERIOUS? ARE YOU SERIOUS? – When I heard this one-way phone conversation on the train, I wanted to burst out laughing. In my mind, it sounds more like a mafia guy or someone with a strong New Jersey accent saying it, instead of the 20-something soft-spoken guy who did say it.
IT LOOKED LIKE GEORGE CLOONEY, BECAUSE IT WAS GEORGE CLOONEY. – Hello. George Clooney? I wanted to follow these two well-dressed women into their cab to hear the rest of this story. But, I didn’t.
OH I CAN’T. I’M AT STARBUCKS. – Ladies and gentlemen, she was NOT at Starbucks. She wasn’t even holding a cup that said Starbucks.
AW SWEETIE, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH I WANT TO GOBBLE YOU UP. (PAUSE) OH HONEY, DON’T BE SCARED. GRANDMA WON’T EAT YOU. – ha ha ha…awwww…ha ha ha ha ha…
YES, I’LL TAKE IT. – It doesn’t matter what they were talking about; I like decisive people.
BUDDY, IT’S THE BEST STORY I’VE EVER HEARD. – A guy carrying a laptop case and getting on the elevator at work was finishing a phone call. Our eyes met and we both smiled. He shared that his young son had just read his grade school essay to him over the phone. My eyes got a little teary. I’m not sure, but I think his did too.
IT WOULD HAVE TO BE AMBER. YUP. AMBER. – were they giving the police a description of someone’s eyes, or trying to choose a paint color, or maybe giving their opinion on a baby’s name? I happen to love the color and the name.
IT WAS EASY. ALL I NEEDED WAS A FLASHLIGHT AND A LITTLE DUCT TAPE. – It almost sounds like some advertising jingle for Duct tape, don’t you think? I’m envisioning the voice of Tim Allen saying the words. I wonder what easy dilemma was resolved by these two well-used inventions. Or maybe the question is what dilemma can’t be solved by at least one of them?
IF YOU PUT ONE MORE THING IN THE CART, I’M GOING TO BREAK YOUR…I’M GOING TO COUNT TO THREE. – Absolutely no judging here, I’m thinking there are many parents out there that may not have said these exact words, but there’s a slight chance they may have thought them or at least said some version of them.
MAYBE IN A HUNDRED YEARS – well, that kind of encompasses a lot of options and a lot of territory, don’t you think? Only one thing is for sure, we’ll never know.