People watching is the best show on earth...

Aug 29, 2007

True Love

. Aug 29, 2007
11 Whispers

I hear two male voices laughing at the Xerox machine just outside my office today, a wonderful configuration for listening. People talk louder when it's copying and it's easy to hear. I don't recognize either voice. One is wheezing more than laughing. They are joined by a third male:

Voice 3: What's the joke? Huh? Give it up.
Wheeze: Oh...frick man! sick bastard!
Voice 2: Beautiful! It was beautiful execution. I ripped one in the elevator with my rook. I told him inhale it and love it!
Wheeze: Ahhhh! (wheeeze) and then this gal gets in on the second floor and she looks around and you can just see...
Voice 2: Yeah, it was beautiful timing! I rolled my eyes at her and looked at my rook. She looks at him and he is just staring straight ahead, man. He is dy-ing!
Wheeze: Oh yeah, the best 'vator sting yet. You sick bast!
Voice 3: You think that's great? I'll tell you what. My girlfriend loves to crack one off! Ha! Can you believe it? She thinks it's funny! Ain't no other, man. I got the last one. That's true love, a girl like that.

The Xerox stops. A few coughs and sputtered laughs, then they are gone. Nothing remains, but I take my Fabreeze air freshener and spray it anyway.

Aug 26, 2007


. Aug 26, 2007
17 Whispers

I'm at the beach today. It's humid and crowded, but still relaxing. I close my eyes and listen to the waves breaking. Inside my day dreaming, I hear an odd rustling sound and then, "Oh gross" from a girl to my right.

There are three teen girlfriends sunning together. They are white, two blond and one red head. All three are thin and clad in string bikinis. One reads, "Us" magazine, the other lays on her stomach and the third, who spoke, is sitting up looking to the left.

I look where she's looking. There is a Hispanic lady foraging through a trash can on the sand. She is wearing sweatpants, a dark blue long-sleeved shirt and flip flops. A faded red cap covers her head and a long black braid hangs down her back. Her face is tanned and creased like leather. She drags two white garbage bags stuffed with cans alongside her:

Blond 1: How nasty! That's disgusting. Digging through trash?
Red: Oh I know! And what do they get, like 2 cents a can?
Blond 1: So dumb. I mean, get a job!
Blond 2: You guys! She's poor.
Red: She's lazy. You can get a job if you want one. You can go be a maid if you want.
Blond 1: Yeah, yeah.
Blond 2: You can't if you're illegal. You can't.
Red: Okay fine. Here, watch. "Hey! Can Lady! Hey!"

The red head takes her half empty plastic Coke bottle and hurls it toward the woman, who looks up and shields herself. The Coke spatters out as the bottle arcs in the air. She picks the bottle up and empties what remains in the trash can.

"Thank you," she says.

Aug 23, 2007

A Quarter Right

. Aug 23, 2007
9 Whispers

I am in my doctor's waiting room early this morning. I take a seat and look around. No one is talking much. I do notice an older couple canoodling a bit in seats across from me, near the office door. They are black, perhaps mid-70s. The man is bald, wears a white linen shirt, white slacks and brown sunglasses. The woman has peppery short hair and wears a denim shirt with beach balls on it over red capris.

The man rests his hand on her knee, gently moving his thumb back and forth on the fabric. Her arm is linked through his. I am caught staring. She looks over her red-rimmed glasses and smiles at me. It's a real one, not a tight, quick purse. I return the smile and look away, embarrassed.

The nurse calls a name. This couple rises. The woman steps forward and the man, who has placed his hand on her shoulder, sweeps a white cane before his first step. As they reach the office door, the woman says, "Quarter right" loudly but not annoyed. He turns toward her just enough so both pass through the doorway together seamlessly. She glances back and smiles again at me.

She is proud of him, I can see it. I am certain he feels it.

Aug 21, 2007

So Many Beers, So Little Money

. Aug 21, 2007
11 Whispers

I am at the end of the cheese aisle, fingering aged cheddars. I hear conspiratorial talk in the next aisle, the refrigerated alcohol section. The voices are young males. Bottles clink. I drop my cheddar and roll around the corner, busy myself going through my coupon envelop.
The boys look newly 21. They are white, clean cut, dressed in jeans. One holds a jumbo bag of Tostitos tortilla chips, another a tub of guacamole and the third a big frozen pizza. With free hands, they browse the bottled beers:

Pizza: We've gotta get Corona. It's the beer you're supposed to have with chips and guac.
Chips: No way man. Corona's boring. And it's Mexican. We should get a German beer. Germans make the best beer.
Pizza: How do you know? You're not German.
Chips: Haven't you ever heard of Oktoberfest, you moron?
Guac: Oh yeah man! We're getting this one. Look - its got a skull on it! Ha ha! Whoooo!
Pizza: That's dumb. You don't buy a beer for the logo.
Guac: Oh like you've bought so much beer.
Pizza: Look, we only have $10 after food. We're definitely getting this one. It's two for $4.00 and look how big it is. It's 40 ounces!
Chips: Hey we can get four for $8.00, that's one extra!

All three smile in agreement. Two each take a 40 and the other balances two on the pizza box.

Aug 17, 2007

Vitamin Water

. Aug 17, 2007
7 Whispers

I am buying pork buns in Famima Super Convenience Mart tonight. A young white couple walks down the aisle, holding hands. Both wear all black; the boy is tall and lanky with black hair, bangs hanging over his eyes and sideburns down past his ears. The girl is pale, lips blackened, heavy dark eyeliner, black hair with purple streaks and a small peace sign tattooed on her forehead. They approach the refrigerated beverages and each take a can of "Rockstar" energy drink.

Girl: Ha, vitamin water. My mom wouldn't let me drink those.
Boy: She's a stupid bitch. Frickin' nag. Don't matter what she thinks now, right? Take one. Take two.
Girl: Geez, relax.
Boy: What?
Girl: No, I'm just saying.
Boy: Relax? Why didn't you tell her to relax?
Girl: Come on. She just said there's tons of sugar and -
Boy: Whatever.
Girl: Come on. Come on, baby.

The girl extends her hand. The boy doesn't take it.

Aug 14, 2007

Snake Eyes

. Aug 14, 2007
7 Whispers

I spent last weekend in Vegas, an eavesdropping mecca. While enjoying one of many craps games, this:

A man walks up to the hook spot on my right. He is maybe 70, gray-haired, clean-shaven and smiling through jaws clenching a big cigar. He wears khaki shorts, a short sleeve button down that says, "Bullhead" on the pocket, athletic socks pulled half way up his calves and bright white tennis shoes. A gold medallion shaped like Texas hangs from his neck, in a tuft of gray chest hair.

There is a girl on his left and a girl on his right. They are both exceptionally well-endowed. Not by mother nature, I'm fairly certain. Each hold a beer. Both are blond with very white teeth and glossed lips. One has bright pink nails and a most obvious nipple ring, the other a french manicure. The man lays down a stack of bills. The dealer counts out $5,000, pushes out a pile of black chips and a handful of purple:

Dealer: How are you doing, Wade?
Wade: Real fine, real fine!
Pink: Ha ha ha!
Wade: These are my new friends! Ain't they a hoot?
Dealer: (Smiles)
Pink: C'mon baby! Get hot! Ha ha ha! You're so cute!
French: Yeah! Get super smoking hot, Wade!
Wade: You bet! What numbers do you girls want?
Pink: I want those hard ones. Ha ha ha!
French: I want ALL the numbers Wade! I can't choose. Ha ha!
Wade: You heard 'em boys! Four hundred hard for her and all across for this one.
Pink: Ooooh and the snake eyes, too! A purple one! We love you, Wade!

The shooter rolls the dice, wild-eyed. Seven out. The stick men stack the chips away. Best I can tell, about $1500 is Wade's. Wade laughs. The gals don't.

Aug 8, 2007


. Aug 8, 2007
24 Whispers

This morning I eavesdropped on a moment that has stayed with me all day. It didn't even involve any words. I am at the Chevron station filling up my mid-sized SUV, watching the dollar amount go up, up, upwards of $50. A young woman exits the gas station's convenience mart. She is white, thin, with straight light brown hair in a pony tail. She wears a faded blue t-shirt with a rainbow decal, jean shorts and black flip flops that look too big. She looks straight ahead, very focused.

She puts the nozzle in the car behind me, a burgundy Ford AstroVan with lots of battle scars and no hub caps. While the pump dispenses, she retrieves a big bag of trash from inside the car and empties it into the station's receptacle. Click. The nozzle taps off. She struggles with removing it for a minute and wipes her cheek. She is crying.

She removes what seems like 50 paper towels from the dispenser, puts them in the van, closes the door and sighs. She wipes tears from both cheeks and heads back to the cashier. She comes out and goes around to the restroom, disappearing inside.

I glance in the trash can, there are chip bags, diet coke cans, papers and some used diapers. I look at her pump gauge. It reads $6.00.

Aug 6, 2007

Hello? Goodbye.

. Aug 6, 2007
10 Whispers

I am sitting close to an older lady at the pool today, maybe mid-50s, Caucasian. She is very tan, with an orange tint. In fact, she's head to toe hues of orange. Her hair is yellow-bronze-orange-red, curly and shoulder length. She wears red lipstick and nail polish on toes and fingers. She has a water bottle with a straw but I don't think it contains water. She wears a pink tankini with a belly chain. The whole look just cannot be denied. About an hour into my stay her cell rings, the ring tone is "Brick House".

"Ah, yes. Hi Jerry."
"Not a lot. Enjoying the sun. You?"
"Really? Hmmm. Well, that's exciting."
"Hahaha. You're kidding. Isn't that a kick?"
"Pardon? Oh, no, no I really can't. I've got to be in early tomorrow."
"No, really. I'm sorry. You call me next time, alright Jer?"
"Okay now, well I've got to take a dip. It's hot today. Bye bye now."

The cell clicks shut. She sighs, rubs her face, shakes her hair out.

"I've got to change my number", she says to no one in particular.

Aug 5, 2007


. Aug 5, 2007
0 Whispers

I have a couple in my imagination inspired by Glen Campbell's song "Gentle on my Mind". I try to tell the woman to move on and she simply smiles at me. Drifters can be such alluring characters.

It's knowin' that your door is always open
And your path is free to walk
That makes me tend to leave my sleepin' bag
Rolled up and stashed behind your couch
And it's knowin' I'm not shackled
By forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that have dried upon some line
That keeps you in the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
That keeps you ever gentle on my mind

Aug 2, 2007

Body Spray

. Aug 2, 2007
15 Whispers

Two male officers are talking just outside my office, near the Xerox. I can't see them and I don't recognize their voices. One voice is deeper than average and peppers speech with 'you know what I'm sayin?". The other has some nervous laughter and sounds like he might surf on the weekends:

Deep: Hey, I got some of that Axe shit and my lady is loving it. It's almost like their commercials, man!
Surf: What's that? Axe?
Deep: You serious? Axe, the body spray. Bow chica wow wow, you know what I'm sayin?
Surf: Are you kidding me, dude? You use body spray? Like a chick?
Deep: Hell no. This is a man's body spray. Like I said, my girl sniffs IT UP! She loves it, man. You should try it.
Surf: Uhuh. No way. If I start wearing body spray my girlfriend's gonna think I'm going out on her. All I need is for her to start calling here when I'm working O.T. That would seriously cramp my game.
Deep: Hmm.

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