In college I was a sociology major and a psychology minor. In a nutshell I am completely fascinated by the absurdity of the human race. Sometimes this innocent curiosity leads me to engage in questionable habits that some may describe as sketchy, creepy, weird and stalker-esque. I disagree.
I sometimes engage in activities like following the most interesting characters into their subway cars, specifically placing myself next to the “eccentrics” at cafes, or standing next to someone with my headphones on . . . and music turned off. All for the purpose of glorifying every individual’s quirks and abberations. I simply believe these tendencies to be a healthy exploration of my curiosity.
Since I’ve returned home from Vietnam, I’ve come to realize that there are many things that I have taken for granted during my life in America. The obvious ones would include the lack of daily exhaust and cigarette fumes, recognition of the concept “personal space”, and the noticeable absence of rabbit-sized rats and rat-sized cockroaches. However, I forgot how much I enjoy dropping in on someone else’s world and witnessing their current drama, gossip, love interest or job complaint. Thus has begun my new obsession with eavesdropping on my fellow Chicagoans – maybe some slight harmless judgments are passed along the way – All in good fun of course.
In the spirit of celebrating the ability to eavesdrop again, I have been making a running list on my iPhone of all the fabulous conversations I’ve witnessed this summer. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. I have included slight descriptions of the people and places these conversations were overheard because I think it only adds to the character of the comment.
Location: Washington Park in Chicago’s frou frou Gold Coast neighborhood.
Who: bouncy/perky brunette on her cell phone wearing short skirt with sneakers and socks (no comment).
“Hi! How are you?! So I’m planning this ‘Drinks with Shrinks’ happy hour for Thursday and I was checking on your status to see if you can make it?”
My self-esteem skyrocketed after this one.
Location: Downtown Chicago park bench.
Who: Homeless man talking with his buddies.
“You know man, you just have to take it one day at a time because you never know what tomorrow’s gonna bring.”
Location: Bank in Chicago’s fancy shopping district; Oak Street.
Who: Ninety-year-old woman in a wheelchair decked from head to foot in big gold jewelry and diamonds.
Reporting to the blank faced bank teller, “My husband stole my wedding ring and gave it to his second wife. Chuckle chuckle.”
Pain camouflaged by jewelry. Thirty years and counting.
Location: Gold Coast Starbucks, Sunday Morning (the day of peace ahem ahem).
Who: Man in his late 30’s having several break-up phone conversations with his girlfriend on his cell phone (very loudly I might add). Oh, and he was also wearing a Batman baseball hat. Please.
“I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m done.” (This exact conversation happened three times).
This situation reminded me of when I was on a sparsely populated beach in Thailand and a lone man in a black speedo was reading a book titled “How to be in a Grown Up Relationship.” It also reminds me of Dick Cheney. (See Maureen Dowd – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/opinion/sunday/dowd-darth-vader-vents.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=opinion)
Location: Wednesday night at a Bucktown/hipster bar.
Who: A hipster couple clearly on a first date.
The Girl: “ I had a pretty good highschool experience, a pretty good college experience, and a pretty good post-collegiate experience. Really I don’t think I have any complaints. Well except that I did way too much ecstasy” (This was followed by a lengthy description of the horrors that accompany coming off an E trip).
Maybe not such a good first date after all.