People watching is the best show on earth...

Nov 24, 2008

What's on the Breast Feeding Menu?

. Nov 24, 2008
9 Whispers

I am eating rotisserie chicken and hummus for dinner at a casual Mediterranean restaurant. The decor is brightened with vibrant colors I'd never think to combine - lime green, bright red, orange and deep brown. I realize how boring my home's walls are and look away from the canvas to the people around me.

The tables lining the restaurant's perimeter are a bit closer together than most would find comfortable, but after a short time most diners are lost in conversation anyway. This, as you might suspect, delights me.

Tonight, I'm eating alone and free to listen undisturbed by my companions. What an anti-socialist I am, I think to myself. Three quarters through my one-quarter white meat chicken, a family of four takes a table near the center of the room. Mom, Dad, toddler and baby settle in. I polish off the crispy wing of my bird and again look over at the family. In those few minutes past, the mom has deftly set up to breast feed her infant. She wears a nifty cover that wraps around her neck and tucks around the outside of baby's head and side. Only two little feet poke out the other end of the cloth.

The baby fusses a bit and a few high-pitched screams grab the attention of two little girls dining next to me with a young woman who is pregnant. The children are around five or six years old and sit next to each other, on my side of the bench, opposite of their guardian. One is frozen, chicken leg in hand, looking toward the screaming baby:

Girl 1: Mom! Why's the baby screaming?
Mom: He's probably hungry, sweetie. He has to eat, just like you need to eat your chicken.
Girl 2: He is loud!
Mom: Yeah, babies can be really loud, huh?
Girl 1: Why is he all covered up like that if he's hungry?
Mom looks back at the other mother and baby.
Mom: Well, um, his Mom is feeding him and she needs privacy.
Girl 1: How can she feed him if he's all covered up?
Girl 2: He's eating from her boobie. My brother ate from my mom's boobie, too. I saw it lots of times.
Girl 1 is silent and looks at her mother.
Mom: Honey, mommies' bodies make milk when they have babies and then the babies drink the milk from our breasts, like our kitties did with Snowy, remember?
Girl 1: Are you making milk for our baby?
Mom: Yes! And when I feed her I'll show you.

After some thought, the daughter makes a recommendation to her mom. "You should make chocolate milk. She will like it so much better than plain," she says.

Nov 21, 2008

Bail Me Out, Mom

. Nov 21, 2008
9 Whispers

I am at Best Buy electronics browsing all the gadgets I cannot afford. I'm amazed at the ingenuity on display here; everything is smaller, better, faster, cooler. I remember when my first cell phone weighed about one pound. Now, a few ounces in your palm becomes your second brain.

I take my philosophical thoughts and walk to the video game area. I have wanted to get involved in gaming for a while, but am afraid of addiction. Many of my coworkers are World of Warcraft players and well, let's just say they are fully immersed in their online world and have constant cases of red eye.

The aisle buzzes with shoppers. Two young boys play an X-Box game on a system display at the aisle's end. Their eyes bulge with adrenaline. "Yeah!" says one as the other's car flips off the track in a ball of flames. Another young boy stands behind the two, watching a new race begin. Hands in pockets, eyes transfixed on the monitor, his body jerks slightly left and right as the players navigate the turns of the race track.

A bit later, the boy joins his mother in the gaming aisle. He is perhaps eight or nine. His large brown eyes behind small glasses scan the aisle offerings. He bounces from one product to another, running back to his mother with reviews of each discovery.

Eventually, he stops next to me at the Nintendo Wii display. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him look me over:

Him: Are you getting this?
Me: No, just looking. Cool, isn't it?
Him: Really cool. It's the best one. But it costs a lot. See?
The boy points to the price, nearly $300.
Him: It's sold out online. My Dad said. So you have to get it here. In the store.

His mother calls him back. "Sorry," she says to me. No problem, I tell her, and compliment her son's product knowledge. A few moments later, when his mother is ready to leave:

Son: Mom, the Wiis are gonna be all gone really fast. We should get one now, before they're ALL GONE.
Mom: Nice try, honey. The store has more. We're not buying anything tonight, remember? Just looking.
Son: But it's important! I need this. It's the only thing on my Christmas list.
Mom: Well, yeah, it better be. It's a lot of money. Just wait and see what Christmas brings, okay?

The boy sighs deeply, spins around and jams his hands into his pockets. He again approaches the Wii display and touches the price tag with one finger. As his mother passes behind me, he grabs her arm with urgency:

Son: Mom! Wait! Maybe you could bail me out.
Mom: What? What do you mean?
Son: You know, bail me out, like on TV for banks. But instead for Wii.
Mom: Oh my god. Michael, that's for big businesses that are going to close if they don't get money to help.
Son: Well, why can't I get money to help?
Mom: Michael! Stop it. It doesn't work like that. Just wait and see what Christmas brings.
Son: Well, it's not fair. I'm gonna write a letter.
Mom: Who are you going to write?
Son: The president of the United States. He is getting his kids a new puppy and he will understand why I need a Wii.

Nov 19, 2008

A Sidenote

. Nov 19, 2008
3 Whispers

I like to keep this blog very focused on eavesdropping and thus don't post any of my short stories, ramblings or any other randomness here. I don't participate in memes for that reason, but I'm deviating from my hard line for these two: the bookworm and the eight things memes. I jump at the chance to tell anyone what books I'm reading and I've found the biography meme to be pretty interesting on other blogs. So, that's that.

First off, the Eight Random Things show begins courtesy of Embee at Musings of a Would-Be Writer:

  1. I could live on pizza alone, especially Z Pizza.
  2. I fractured my right elbow all to pieces when I tripped while jogging and have enough hardware in it to set off metal detectors. I recovered 80% range of motion after one year of physical therapy.
  3. The musician I'd most like to meet is Stevie Nicks. I would love to hang out with her and ask about the meaning behind some of her mysterious lyrics...and also sing Edge of 17 with her.
  4. I can karaoke Bette Davis Eyes, Proud Mary (Tina Turner version), Tush and Stop Draggin' My Heart Around like nobody's business. This is according to fan reviews at my karaoke parties.
  5. I didn't go to my 20th high school reunion because I'm not married yet.
  6. Sarah McLaughlin's ASPCA commercial makes me cry like a baby.
  7. I pretend I'm an outlaw when I'm on the back of my boyfriend's motorcycle.
  8. I have fibromyalgia. It's brutal, but I'm coping pretty well.

Next, the books. I should warn you I am a bookaholic who reads many books at once in a fairly scatter-brained fashion. Luckily, this meme allows only one book mention:

(1) Grab the nearest book, (2) open the book to page 56, (3) find the fifth sentence, (4) post the text of the next two to five sentences, (5) don’t dig for your favorite book. Pick the closest, and (6) tag five people to do the same.

My closest book is the one I'm reading for pleasure, "The Darkest Evening of the Year" by Dean Koontz. Here's the excerpt:

"Glad to hear it. There's always a way forward, but there's no way back." Janet nodded. Perhaps she understood. Most likely not. To many people, free will is a license to rebel not against what is unjust or hard in life but against what is best for them and true.

Thanks to Page at The Road I'm Traveling for the tag. I'm not going to retag people, but anyone who wants to give it a go from here certainly can.
Dean Koontz Book

Nov 10, 2008

Giving Thanks

. Nov 10, 2008
11 Whispers

Tonight I am deliberately trying to overhear something interesting, which is why after slowly walking the length of a busy shop-lined street, I've eavesdropped absolutely nothing. The very best glimpses of human nature - heroic, despicable and everything in between - usually find me when I'm not looking.

Why is that so, I wonder? Does something else decide what I'm going to hear and when? Well, fine then, I think to myself in a 12-year-old's voice. I'm taking my ears and going home. On my way to the bus stop, I'm wishing I would have just driven my car and fought the parking on this busy street full of diners and shoppers. I'm tired, it's cold and my patience has left the building.

Tonight, I am The Grinch. Shall I just go with it and try to make a child cry? Lost in my grumpy thoughts, I'm startled by a man's voice as I pass a dry cleaner's on the corner.

"A couple bucks for a meal, miss?" he calls to me. "No," I say instantly. "I don't have any extra tonight, sorry". I lie on two accounts: one, I do have extra and two, I'm not sorry. I work hard for my money and the last thing I want to do is give it to a dirty transient who will turn right around and buy a 40 ouncer and a pack of cigs. That is what I yell to the small voice whispering in my heart that perhaps the man is honest.

His eyes are downcast when I deny him. His hands are clasped in front of dirty tan pants stained with lord knows what. He wears several layers of tops, the outermost a gray sweatshirt with hood and pocket. His beard is wildly unkempt and a faded brown UPS cap covers his head.

Twenty steps later I reach my bus bench. I sit sideways and look back to watch the pan handler do his thing. A handful more people turn their heads to him when he speaks, but continue walking. A woman and teenage boy are next. Both hold shopping bags of treasures. The man hesitates, then speaks when they are almost past. The woman turns around. The boy looks at his mother. She says something to the man and he answers, but stays in his spot.

The woman puts her bags down and goes into her purse as more shoppers walk around them. The boy keeps his eyes on the man. His mother passes some money to her son and he walks to the man to give it. From my bus bench I can see the man smile in thanks. Mother and son are on their way and pass me, her arm around him, both smiling to themselves. Suckers.

The man is off and running to the crosswalk. I spring off my bench and walk briskly after him. I am so certain that he is headed for the liquor store on the corner across the street I am giddy with excitement. We reach the other side and he turns right, away from the booze shop. I am 10 steps behind and feeling more curious than boastful.

He walks purposefully for nearly one block and I consider turning back. And then a cold fall wind gusts an unmistakable aroma: french fries. Up ahead, on the corner of the next block, is a Jack in the Box fast food joint. I stop in my tracks. The man walks across the street. Before he enters the restaurant, he stops at the doors, bows his head and crosses himself in prayer.

Nov 3, 2008

Walking the Line

. Nov 3, 2008
3 Whispers

~This post is rated 'R'

I am capping off the weekend with a couple midori sours at a favorite neighborhood bar that throws back to 1970s swank. They have literal "lounge singers" on weekend nights and I nurse my two drinks for the one-hour show. The bar buzzes with weekend warriors and the desire to postpone Monday morning is nearly palpable.

The bar sits on the corner of a busy street lined with restaurants, shops and yet more bars. We meander outside after the last song, "Viva Las Vegas" performed in true Elvis style. It's past 11:30 p.m. and still the street hums with activity. Groups of friends congregate near bar entrances, lingering before goodbyes. Couples stroll past holding hands, or not; perhaps good dates and bad ones.

A small crowd exits our bar with us, a few still clapping for Elvis. The crowd's energy buzzes. Someone yells, "Let's drive to Vegas!". Laughter, claps, some whoots. We pile out the door and loiter for a moment. Little chimneys light up everywhere as people hit their nicotine. The air's too smokey and I pull my boyfriend to go.

A police car flashing blue and red strobe lights behind a big black SUV slowly crosses the intersection across the street. The SUV stops in the middle of the road, just beyond the far crosswalk. A few people laugh. More look over, drawn by the lights. The police officer booms on his p.a. system:

"Driver, advance your vehicle slowly and pull over to the right side of the road. Do it now."

The tinted driver's side window rolls down. An arm waves back and forth. Conversation hushes in my bar crowd. Someone laughs. Another says, "Oh my god! Dumbass!". The officer speaks again:

"Driver, put your arm inside the vehicle. Advance your vehicle slowly and pull over to the right side of the road. This is your last warning. Do it now."

"He probably speaks Spanish!" someone says. "Hey no habla Ingles, amigo?" More laughs. The SUV begins crawling forward and slowly pulls over, police car following. Both vehicles are still against the curb. A bigger crowd has gathered around us, watching the scene unfold across the street. Moments later, a second police car arrives and all four officers approach the SUV, two go to either side of the front, one approaches the back but keeps a distance and the fourth remains close to the open driver's door of the first police car.

More hollers in jest from the bar crowd. The fourth officer looks over and yells to be quiet, please. The officer near the driver's door has his hand on his holster. The driver has lowered his window. The officer talks and motions for the driver to come out. He does. As he descends the high SUV, he topples back against it on one leg. A man in the crowd says, "Whoo yeah!"

The officer directs the driver to the pavement in between the SUV and the police car. He speaks again and demonstrates a finger to nose motion. The driver wobbles as he stands in one place. Arms out, he slowly brings one to his nose. I cannot see how close he comes. Before he tries the other arm, the officer points forward. The driver begins walking heal to toe. On the third step he leans way to the right, loses his balance and falls on his butt.

The bar crowd hoots and hollers. Some cheer and a few whistle. Suddenly, a female's voice rings out:

"Fuck you people! You think it's funny? It's not funny. Fuck you, you fuckin' drunk assholes! You better not kill anyone tonight."

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