SETTING: A coffee shop, or an airport waiting area, or a concert hall lobby.

BH [to (LONG-SUFFERING) COMPANION]: So what’s new with you?

LSC: Well, I’m thinking about  looking around for a new job. Seems like a good time to get my resume out there.  Wait, what are you staring at?

BH: What? Oh, sorry.

LSC: Something is obviously more interesting than what I’m saying.

BH: No, no, of course not! Go on. I’m listening.

LSC: Any way, I have a few leads and a friend is going to put in a good word for me . . . Hold on! What are you staring at?

BH: Sorry! But It’s that family over there. I’m trying to figure out if the older woman is the mother of the younger woman or the mother-in-law. I’m looking for clues. Wait, must be the mother-in-law! They both have forced smiles.

LSC: Okay. . .

BH: I know, I know! It’s rude to stare. It’s nosy, and I’m not paying attention to you. I’ve been a watcher and an eavesdropper ever since I was a little kid. I can’t help it, somehow. But I’m a grown-up now and know how to be polite. So carry on! I’m going to be the world’s best listener. Promise.

LSC: Thanks. So I’m putting my resume together, which is a big pain . . .

[BH lets out a muffled guffaw]

Hey! What’s so funny about my resume?

BH: Nothing, I wasn’t laughing at you. [whispering] But you won’t believe what the woman behind me just said! “Well, they kicked her out of hospice because she didn’t die soon enough!” I have to write that down! [BH pulls out phone and taps a note]

LSC: Ha ha, very amusing.

BH: Please, go on. World’s best listener, cross my heart!

LSC: Like I was saying, resumes. All the do’s and don’ts. And those fancy templates.

BH: [whispering again] Oh my God! That young woman just started sobbing!

LSC: That’s not our business. Nothing about those people is our business. And you said you were going to be “the world’s best listener.”

BH: Oh, my apologies! But all these people to watch, and all the comments that I might overhear — I’m collecting, don’t you see?  Like a birder in the jungle or an astronomer on a starry night or a rock hound on a river bank. I store away what people say and how they are interacting and what they’re wearing and later, I pull out bits and pieces to use when I’m writing. [deep breath] But I am bigger than this habit. I can control myself. You are more important than all these strangers and their dramas. Please, go on.

LSC: So I’m wondering if I should hire some resume expert to help me  . . .

BH: Wait! [whispering  again] That guy next to you just said,  “Well, the alligator already ate their dog, so they should have left.”

LSC: [with long-suffering sigh] I give up!


NOTE: I did in fact overhear all the “found dialog” in this post!