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Susan Littlefield
08-26-2013, 06:47 PM
As writers, we all know the importance of people-watching, and of course eavesdropping.

An overheard conversation while reading my kindle in a communal seating area at the mall (as a preface, I learned all the following from eavesdropping): a 39 year old man comes along and starts a conversation with a lady at least 25 years his senior that he's seen on the bus. He does everything he can to get her to go out with him, including saying "he's been with older women before and it's all right," "I come from an extremely wealth family," "I'm just starting my business up and it's doing really well," and on and on, until he finally asks her out. She politely declined and the encounter ended there.

Well, as a writer, I can think of a million ways to spin that conversation into a story.

Have you overheard any conversations you've thought of putting into a story, or which you have written about? Do tell!

robjvargas
08-26-2013, 07:42 PM
I had one conversation tug my heart badly. Back in the early 1990's, I was in the US Navy, submarines. Being an electrician and the sub in port, it was my job to cross over from the boat (a sub is not a ship!) to the pier to check the shore power connection.

One evening, I went topside. A fellow bubblehead was standing on the deck. A woman with a crying child was standing on the pier. She was begging him to come home. The baby had a fever, one of her family had been in an accident, and she needed help. He tried three times to explain that he was on watch and could not leave the boat.

Families of military members deserve three times the benefits they get. And more. I can't count anymore the number of times I went to the on-base store and saw wives paying with food stamps.

I lost two wonderful girlfriends because I couldn't subject them to that kind of life.

Siri Kirpal
08-26-2013, 10:12 PM
I had one conversation tug my heart badly. Back in the early 1990's, I was in the US Navy, submarines. Being an electrician and the sub in port, it was my job to cross over from the boat (a sub is not a ship!) to the pier to check the shore power connection.

One evening, I went topside. A fellow bubblehead was standing on the deck. A woman with a crying child was standing on the pier. She was begging him to come home. The baby had a fever, one of her family had been in an accident, and she needed help. He tried three times to explain that he was on watch and could not leave the boat.

Families of military members deserve three times the benefits they get. And more. I can't count anymore the number of times I went to the on-base store and saw wives paying with food stamps.

I lost two wonderful girlfriends because I couldn't subject them to that kind of life.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Sad story!

And yes, they do deserve lots more than they get.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

jjdebenedictis
08-26-2013, 11:10 PM
One overheard conversation that has stuck in my head wasn't actually in a language I could understand.

It was two people, apparently in a romantic relationship and dressed as if they were extremely affluent, acting like complete psychos to one another.

The woman was whining at the top of her lungs, flailing about, and literally stomping her feet like a four-year-old having a tantrum. It was a thoroughly embarrassing, immature, and emotionally-manipulative display.

The man was this ice-cold, sneering jerk who showed only impatience for the delay she was causing. He would occasionally pluck at her sleeve and then scoff and look irritated when she would flap out of his grip again. He showed zero interest in her desires and appeared completely apathetic to her distress.

I didn't understand what they were saying, but their body language alone made that a fascinating "overheard" conversation.

shakeysix
08-26-2013, 11:36 PM
I have a notebook of these. One of the best was between a couple of my high school boys on an icy winter afternoon in Brit. Lit. class:

"Hey, you know that shopping cart full of deer heads behind my barn?"
"Yeah?"
"I'll bet if we emptied it and sawed the wheels off and welded runners on, we could turn it into a toboggan!"
"Like in Cool Runnings?"
"Yeah!"
"Yeah."

Susan Littlefield
08-26-2013, 11:39 PM
Thanks for the wonderful responses. Have any of you thought of story ideas borne from those conversations, or perhaps somehow used them in a story already?

LOTLOF
08-27-2013, 12:09 AM
Not overheard conversations, but I have a friend that I chat with online all the time. We both have... interesting senses of humor. Our conversations can take on a life of their own and I will often add snippets of them into my stories. Our chats also often give me inspiration for scenes and whole sub plots.

robjvargas
08-27-2013, 12:43 AM
Thanks for the wonderful responses. Have any of you thought of story ideas borne from those conversations, or perhaps somehow used them in a story already?

My talent hasn't been up to the challenge. As an Air Force brat and now with some Navy experience, I've had some insight into the lives of military families. I'd love to write something that wasn't so "Real Wives of..." or "The Unit."

So far, sadly, inspiration/muse has not yet struck.

weavergirl
08-27-2013, 02:22 AM
This wasn't overheard by me, but my husband. I was on the phone with my business partner and we were discussing the purchase of a new stud. When looking for a good male, thickness of fleece and ability to do what sires do, is a big factor in deciding who's genes get used.
So my husband, not realizing I was on the phone, picked up the other receiver just in time to hear my partner announce: "You've got to see him. He's dense as hell and his testicles are HUGE!"
I'm not sure I'm up for writing in that genre. LOL!

K.L. Bennett
08-27-2013, 04:09 AM
One overheard conversation that has stuck in my head wasn't actually in a language I could understand.

It was two people, apparently in a romantic relationship and dressed as if they were extremely affluent, acting like complete psychos to one another.

The woman was whining at the top of her lungs, flailing about, and literally stomping her feet like a four-year-old having a tantrum. It was a thoroughly embarrassing, immature, and emotionally-manipulative display.

The man was this ice-cold, sneering jerk who showed only impatience for the delay she was causing. He would occasionally pluck at her sleeve and then scoff and look irritated when she would flap out of his grip again. He showed zero interest in her desires and appeared completely apathetic to her distress.

I didn't understand what they were saying, but their body language alone made that a fascinating "overheard" conversation.

I've got one similar to this that I've been trying to work into a story.

It was on Duval street in Key West, in the middle of all the crowds and everything. A man and woman were having an all out screaming match on the street corner in what I think was a dialect from one of the islands in the Caribbean. My friends and I caught snippets of what could have been English, but she was going so fast I couldn't make any of it out. Anyway, she was definitely scolding him for something in a MAJOR way, she even pushed him a few times, and mostly he just stood there and took what she was dishing out. He did scream back at her a few times, but seemed overall quite contrite.

Anyway, I have a really naive, do-gooder kind of character that I could see trying to interject herself in the situation to help out or try to mediate, with the whole thing exploding in her face. I haven't worked it into the story yet, because there hasn't been a place where it fits organically, but I'm hoping I can get it in there somewhere!

Tazlima
08-27-2013, 07:58 AM
In my college days I stayed in an apartment that my friends dubbed "the refugee camp." It was just as terrible and trashy as it sounds, a crackhouse minus the crack. My bedroom walls and ceiling were sheets with a shower curtain for the door.

The landlady and her brother lived there and I overheard variations on the same conversation/argument I don't know how many times.

The brother (I forget his name) had a prosthetic leg from the knee down and walked with a sort of "thump, shuffle, thump shuffle." He always spoke in a yelling whine interspersed with wheezy breaths and he was a total creeper/peeping Tom.

Brother: Barbara *thump shuffle wheeze* give me fifty cents for a cappuccino *wheeze thump shuffle thump shuffle.*

Barbara: (yelling) No. You just got your disability check two days ago and you spent it all on whores. I'm not giving you any damned money.

It would devolve into incoherent yelling after that, but it always started with "give me fifty cents for a cappuccino.*

Note: The conversation was actually in Italian. I'm not sure my translation conveys the weirdness of it, but it's the best I can do. For you polyglots, his actual words were "Barbara, mi dai mille lire per un cappuccio."

Susan Littlefield
08-27-2013, 08:26 AM
Not overheard conversations, but I have a friend that I chat with online all the time. We both have... interesting senses of humor. Our conversations can take on a life of their own and I will often add snippets of them into my stories. Our chats also often give me inspiration for scenes and whole sub plots.

That's neat, LOTLOF. Speaking of this, may years ago my aunt and uncle were on a road trip when he got pulled over by a cop in Oregon for speeding. My uncle admitted he was speeding, said he was trying to get to the family reunion (which was true because I was there), and the cop said, "Well, since you're in my city, I'm going to let you off this time."

In my novel out for submission, I used those exact words when my villainess got pulled over. :)

Susan Littlefield
08-27-2013, 08:33 AM
My talent hasn't been up to the challenge. As an Air Force brat and now with some Navy experience, I've had some insight into the lives of military families. I'd love to write something that wasn't so "Real Wives of..." or "The Unit."

So far, sadly, inspiration/muse has not yet struck.

I guess that's actually Real Wives of...whatever it is...came along, from someone's true experience. :D


This wasn't overheard by me, but my husband. I was on the phone with my business partner and we were discussing the purchase of a new stud. When looking for a good male, thickness of fleece and ability to do what sires do, is a big factor in deciding who's genes get used.
So my husband, not realizing I was on the phone, picked up the other receiver just in time to hear my partner announce: "You've got to see him. He's dense as hell and his testicles are HUGE!"
I'm not sure I'm up for writing in that genre. LOL!

Oh my gosh, that is a GOOD one!


I've got one similar to this that I've been trying to work into a story.

It was on Duval street in Key West, in the middle of all the crowds and everything. A man and woman were having an all out screaming match on the street corner in what I think was a dialect from one of the islands in the Caribbean. My friends and I caught snippets of what could have been English, but she was going so fast I couldn't make any of it out. Anyway, she was definitely scolding him for something in a MAJOR way, she even pushed him a few times, and mostly he just stood there and took what she was dishing out. He did scream back at her a few times, but seemed overall quite contrite.

Anyway, I have a really naive, do-gooder kind of character that I could see trying to interject herself in the situation to help out or try to mediate, with the whole thing exploding in her face. I haven't worked it into the story yet, because there hasn't been a place where it fits organically, but I'm hoping I can get it in there somewhere!

See, it's real life situations that we can work into a story.


.

The brother (I forget his name) had a prosthetic leg from the knee down and walked with a sort of "thump, shuffle, thump shuffle." He always spoke in a yelling whine interspersed with wheezy breaths and he was a total creeper/peeping Tom.

Brother: Barbara *thump shuffle wheeze* give me fifty cents for a cappuccino *wheeze thump shuffle thump shuffle.*

Barbara: (yelling) No. You just got your disability check two days ago and you spent it all on whores. I'm not giving you any damned money.

It would devolve into incoherent yelling after that, but it always started with "give me fifty cents for a cappuccino.*

Note: The conversation was actually in Italian. I'm not sure my translation conveys the weirdness of it, but it's the best I can do. For you polyglots, his actual words were "Barbara, mi dai mille lire per un cappuccio."

I love it, and it translated just fine. I could totally see this in a story.

Once!
08-27-2013, 10:28 AM
This is not an overheard conversation. It was a scene played out in mime.

My wife and I were staying at a small hotel in the Cotswolds. One evening we watched a middle-aged couple across the restaurant from us. They didn't say a word to each other, but acted out this little scene.

He had ordered fish and chips (French fries). The fish was a long piece of cod, deep fried in batter. It was so long that it overhung his plate on both sides.

Holding one end of the fish between finger and thumb, he applied a liberal shower of salt to both the top and the bottom of the fish. Then he did the same with the pepper. This took several minutes. He seemed to have an obsessive need to cover every scrap of the fish with seasoning.

Meanwhile, his wife had placed a large handbag on the table next to her plate. It was this which had drawn my attention to her in the first place. Who puts a handbag on a dinner table?

She opened the handbag and pulled out a long length of silvery chain. She then looped this chain around her neck. At this point, we were intrigued. What was the chain for?

Both ends of the chain held large metal bulldog clips - the kind you used to see in offices for holding bundles of paper together. Then she fixed her napkin to the two bulldog clips so that it hung across her chest like a bib.

And as we noticed the napkin chain, we spotted that she had other chains around her neck too. One held a pair of spectacles, but there were others disappearing into her clothes. We had no idea what they were connected to.

Both of these rituals were carried out in total silence, as each of them went through their individual rituals. They were oblivious to each other and to the restaurant around them.

We watched them through the rest of the meal. Sad to say, but they didn't do anything else interesting. But we couldn't help wondering what other little rituals they had for other situations. What were the other chains connected to? Were there any other astonishing gadgets hiding in that handbag?

Ken
08-27-2013, 03:04 PM
... not into eavesdropping.
To me, that's an invasion of privacy.
If someone by me is having a convo,
rather than tuning in I do my best to tune out.
Same with people watching, except if the person in question
happens to be a fetchin' fille. Shameful to be sure :-(

This is just my own perspective,
which I only use to access myself; not others.

shaldna
08-27-2013, 03:35 PM
Have you overheard any conversations you've thought of putting into a story, or which you have written about? Do tell!


A couple of weeks ago I overheard two teenage girls walking down the street outside my house

Girl 1 'I'll only be a minute. I just have to tell his granny that he's in lock down again.'

Classy area I live in.

mirandashell
08-27-2013, 04:15 PM
A couple of weeks ago I overheard two teenage girls walking down the street outside my house

Girl 1 'I'll only be a minute. I just have to tell his granny that he's in lock down again.'

Classy area I live in.

:ROFL:


As for what the chains were connected to.... nipples?

shakeysix
08-27-2013, 05:14 PM
Overheard in my classroom as I am passing out graded papers:

Girl #1: What about Kelsea? Is she going with Jarrod?

Girl#2: (Sigh) No. They are through. She's all about that weird psycho janitor she met at the mall, so she's going to take him.

As the only adult in the room I feel I must intervene. It's my teacher oath or something.

Mrs. Smith: What? A janitor? She's a sophomore! How old is this guy?

Eye rolling and mutual sighs. From the entire class.

Girl #1: He's not really a janitor. He just dresses like a janitor.

Girl #2: He is kind of psycho though.

robjvargas
08-27-2013, 06:14 PM
:ROFL:


As for what the chains were connected to.... nipples?

I just had a flashback to the "literally" thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=275700).

:flag:

Susan Littlefield
08-27-2013, 07:13 PM
... not into eavesdropping.
To me, that's an invasion of privacy.
If someone by me is having a convo,
rather than tuning in I do my best to tune out.
Same with people watching, except if the person in question
happens to be a fetchin' fille. Shameful to be sure :-(

This is just my own perspective,
which I only use to access myself; not others.

Yeah, but Ken, but sometimes people talk so loud that it's hard not to overhear, then once you do overhear you are hooked! :D I'm sure the whole mall could hear this one guy I was talking about in my original posts.

robjvargas
08-27-2013, 07:26 PM
... not into eavesdropping.
To me, that's an invasion of privacy.
If someone by me is having a convo,
rather than tuning in I do my best to tune out.
Same with people watching, except if the person in question
happens to be a fetchin' fille. Shameful to be sure :-(

This is just my own perspective,
which I only use to access myself; not others.
But people-watching in a cafe is not eavesdropping (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eavesdrop).

to listen secretly to what is said in private
Yelling across 30+ of open air to your wife on the pier or your husband on the sub isn't private. A conversation in a coffee shop isn't private. Joking and/or arguing on a public sidewalk isn't private.

I think you have a great respect for others' lives with your attitude. And if you make a conscious effort to take in those conversations, I'd basically agree with you. It's rude and insensitive, but still not eavesdropping.

Our characters become real for the reader when we make the effort to understand human behavior and responses. People-watching is one way to do that. Not the only way, by any means.

I appreciate your respect for others the way you practice it. For me, though, there's a middle ground.

That commuter on the train, talking on the cell phone so loud I can hear the words in the exit vestibule, that's not private either. :D

mirandashell
08-27-2013, 08:06 PM
Yeah, Ken.....when a guy in a crowded train carriage starts talking to his wife by mobile about what the doctor said during and after his prostate exam..... that's not private.

And trust me, I was trying really really hard to tune him out....

holy_shiitake
08-27-2013, 11:56 PM
I've got one similar to this that I've been trying to work into a story.

It was on Duval street in Key West, in the middle of all the crowds and everything. A man and woman were having an all out screaming match on the street corner in what I think was a dialect from one of the islands in the Caribbean. My friends and I caught snippets of what could have been English, but she was going so fast I couldn't make any of it out. Anyway, she was definitely scolding him for something in a MAJOR way, she even pushed him a few times, and mostly he just stood there and took what she was dishing out. He did scream back at her a few times, but seemed overall quite contrite.

Anyway, I have a really naive, do-gooder kind of character that I could see trying to interject herself in the situation to help out or try to mediate, with the whole thing exploding in her face. I haven't worked it into the story yet, because there hasn't been a place where it fits organically, but I'm hoping I can get it in there somewhere!

I feel like that kind of thing happens a LOT in Key West. It's a writer's paradise (as well as actual paradise) because it's just so jam packed with so many different, interesting people. I have a lot of really great "so this one time I met this awesome/strange/memorable person in Key West" stories. They haven't made it into my stories yet, but maybe one day!

Ken
08-28-2013, 12:21 AM
Yeah, but Ken, but sometimes people talk so loud that it's hard not to overhear, then once you do overhear you are hooked! :D I'm sure the whole mall could hear this one guy I was talking about in my original posts.

... walkmans are your friend ;-)
Rarely am w/o mine. Have a Sony.
Good quality. Still going strong after 15+ years.

You're right about loud convos,
as are Rob and Miranda.
Sometimes it is impossible to tune out.
Not really eavesdropping as such.

As writers you're using the info for good purposes.
So there's that, too, plus the fact that you
seem like good, conscionable peeps,
not merely out to sate a perverse curiosity,
or stock up on material for subsequent gossip.

Layla Nahar
08-28-2013, 04:04 AM
It's funny Susan, but I have tried and have found it COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE to turn any experience of real people into fiction. Even just an overheard conversation. Even just an intriguing person I watched for a while.

DreamWeaver
08-28-2013, 08:27 PM
When I lived in Hawaii, the houses in my neighborhood had no insulation or drywall--they were basically inch-thick log cabins made out of redwood planks. If you were hanging a picture and hammered the nail in too far, it came out on the outside of the house. Add to that no air conditioning or heat (not necessary), so everyone kept their windows wide open 24/7/365. As a result, you could hear quite clearly most of your neighbor's normal conversations taking place in their rooms next to your house.

It was amazing how little time it took to learn to tune out the voices, except if they were calling for help or there was some other emergency, of course. And I'll admit, my dining room was right next to my neighbors' dining room, and every morning when she asked the kids what they wanted for breakfast I'd be tempted to ask for pancakes :D.

No story ideas from that though--it *would* feel too much like bad eavesdropping ;).

stormie
08-28-2013, 08:48 PM
I like people-watching rather than eavesdropping.
Eavesdropping on purpose reminds me of high school antics.

Granted, there are times when I can't help but overhear someone's cell phone conversation
or when a group of people are on the beach swapping stories. As for a story coming
from those accidently overheard conversations: no. Maybe an idea for a story, but that's about it.

shakeysix
08-28-2013, 10:21 PM
Here is one I wrote into a story. When I finished it, it wasn't close to the conversation that started it, but the original is too good not to share.

Actually it is not so much a conversation as a monolog. The time was a little after ten p.m. on a dark, stormy summer night. The location was the library basement in our small town--the public tornado shelter. There were about thirty people in the shelter. Nobody was saying much. I was holding my very frightened grand daughter in my arms. Even in the basement we could hear the sirens, the thunder, the wind, rain and hail. The lights were going on and off. A woman in her fifties began to talk to a neighbor of hers, maybe just to calm herself, maybe to calm us all. Eventually everyone was listening and commenting.

"I got hurt real bad in a tornado once. Real bad".

I think someone finally said "You did?" or words to that effect. It clearly wasn't a popular topic.

"Yeah. I was fifteen. We were living in Okalahoma, just outside Midwest City. It was about eleven in the morning. Dad was at work. Mom had to run to the store to get something for lunch. Since I was oldest I was in charge. It was a sunny day and my sisters and brothers were scattered all over the neighborhood. Then it clouded up real dark, real fast. I didn't think much about it, past closing the windows."

The neighbor nodded. "I guess you wouldn't."

"Nope I didn't. And then all hell broke loose. The TV went to fuzz so I turned on the radio and tried to get a station but then sirens went off."

"Did they spot one?"

"Yup. The radio said it was coming straight for us. I ran outside and that rain felt just like hail. The wind was blowing me sideways but I got all the kids rounded up, and then the cat and the dogs. I took them all into the house and into the basement."

"Were they scared?"

"Oh yeah. But I wasn't. It was strange but running around in the wind and sirens made me brave. I decided that since I had made it through the storm so far, I might as well stay outside and see a real tornado."

"Good grief."

The lady shrugged. "As kids go, I was stupider than most. I had a dog leash in my hand so I used it to tie myself to this metal railing that was like a porch pillar. I used the other leash to tie my hand to the mail box."

"Oh Jeez."

"Yeah. Really. And then the hail started. It hurt but I couldn't get loose."

"Did you see the tornado?"

"No. I saw my mom. She came tearing up in our car. There was a trash can sticking through the passenger window! She jumped out of the car and ran for the house but then she saw me on the porch. She grabbed my hand and tried to pull me into the house but when she saw that I was tied to the mail box she went nuts. I mean, she was pretty hysteric to start with, but that capped it off. She started smacking me and trying to save me, all at the same time and hollering too. When she finally got me loose she chased me all the way to the basement, smacking me and screaming 'You could have been hurt! When Dad got home he asked me what happened to my face. Mom said "She got hurt in the tornado."

By the time she finished the story everyone was laughing

Ken
08-28-2013, 11:05 PM
Granted, there are times when I can't help but overhear someone's cell phone conversation

... danged contraptions.
Though useful, there are times when I wish
they'd never been invented.
Apologies for the tangent.

Susan Littlefield
08-28-2013, 11:40 PM
Following Long...Will be back later to reply. :D

Susan Littlefield
08-29-2013, 05:20 AM
When I lived in Hawaii, the houses in my neighborhood had no insulation or drywall--they were basically inch-thick log cabins made out of redwood planks. If you were hanging a picture and hammered the nail in too far, it came out on the outside of the house. Add to that no air conditioning or heat (not necessary), so everyone kept their windows wide open 24/7/365. As a result, you could hear quite clearly most of your neighbor's normal conversations taking place in their rooms next to your house.

It was amazing how little time it took to learn to tune out the voices, except if they were calling for help or there was some other emergency, of course. And I'll admit, my dining room was right next to my neighbors' dining room, and every morning when she asked the kids what they wanted for breakfast I'd be tempted to ask for pancakes :D.

No story ideas from that though--it *would* feel too much like bad eavesdropping ;).

Many years ago, I lived in an apartment complex like this, where the walls were so thin that I often heard coughing, bathroom activity, and even conversations I had no business overhearing. Due to finances, I lived there for quite a while. It was so great when I finally moved out.

I don't recall ever using anything from those overheard conversations in my writing, but I can imagine using the circumstances of the living circumstances somehow in a story.

Susan Littlefield
08-29-2013, 05:21 AM
Shakeysix,

That is an amazing conversation not to overhear. So glad you were able to use it in a story.

Susan Littlefield
08-29-2013, 05:25 AM
... danged contraptions.
Though useful, there are times when I wish
they'd never been invented.
Apologies for the tangent.

No, you are absolutely spot on about cell phones. It has been my experience that people are pretty loud on those things, thus it's difficult not to overhear.

Susan Littlefield
08-29-2013, 05:29 AM
I think the reason I opened this topic is because I tend to use many real-life experiences in my stories, some of which have included those overheard conversations. Of course, I embellish them to fit my characters' situations, or maybe just use a line or two I hear.

Just to be clear, I don't intentionally eavesdrop, but I have a difficult time tuning out people in public who talk loud enough for the world to hear them. Yep, it's gotten worse with cell phones.

People watching...now, I do that intentionally. :)

shakeysix
08-29-2013, 06:10 AM
I eavesdrop. My grandpa was a bartender. My dad and I used to visit him at work. Dad would have a beer--most likely Pabst. Grandpa would fix me up with a Shirley Temple--complete with cherries and a swizzle stick. I would sit quiet as a mouse and try to figure out what the grownups were talking about. Luckily I did not grow up to be an alcoholic but I did grow up believing that other people's conversations were rich entertainment. I make no apologies--s6

Amara Sand
08-29-2013, 10:52 AM
Well this is almost an overheard conversation. I spoke with a woman who owned a large parrot (a macaw named Harold). She earnestly relayed the following:
"One day, I went to go see if Harold needed anything. He had been alone in the back yard for a few hours and I just wanted to check on him. I walked up to him and he turned to look at me and said in a firm voice, "My name is NOT Reginald!" After a pause, he asked indignantly, "And WHERE is Harriet?!"

I didn't know this woman and wondered if..ah...she had perhaps experienced a little bit of the vapors (it was a warm day) or perhaps...an afternoon beverage of surprising potency. To my doubting expression she replied that her bird had indeed said these things just as she described. I asked if he had overheard television programs or perhaps the neighbors speaking to each other. She said she had no neighbors by that name and couldn't recall any television program featuring those lines nor a reason why those lines would have been repeated enough for the parrot to learn them. She was so adamant I am tempted to believe her. The bird was never heard to make those statements again.

Susan Littlefield
08-29-2013, 06:29 PM
Shakeysix,

It sounds like you learned well from Grandpa. :D

Amara,

What a great story!

Summonere
08-29-2013, 06:48 PM
Back when I worked in the convenience store trade near a dangerous intersection, I saw yet another car accident, this one involving two girls of about 16 who ran their new Firebird into the back of a car that had been waiting to make a left turn. No one was injured and the girls came into the store to use the pay phone.


Girl on the phone talked to “daddy,” paused, and said, “we ran into a car.” The sister wailed, “No! Don't tell him that! Now daddy will never buy us anything!”

robjvargas
08-29-2013, 06:56 PM
Summonere:

The problem with that overheard conversation isn't getting a story from it. It's that there's so damn many of 'em already. :D

sarahdalton
09-01-2013, 01:50 AM
It's funny what sticks in our minds.

The other week I was in TK Maxx and a couple were shopping. The woman kept holding clothes up and the guy would say things like: 'yeh it's nice,' 'it's all right that, love' etc. She held something else up and said how she wasn't sure about it, could she have it, and he said, 'well, you'll just get it anyway, don't know why you bother asking'.

I just remember thinking they were quite young and that it felt weird to see a woman asking her partner if she was allowed to buy something. I can't ever imagine that relationship with my other half. Even over the last year, he's been the 'breadwinner' while I work part time and spend more time on my writing. Even then I would never ask him for permission to do anything.

mirandashell
09-01-2013, 02:24 AM
The thing is, each couple has a game they play in certain situations. That's possibly their particular game. She asks his permission, he acknowledges her asking, she does what she wants anyway. It's all about the balance of power

Fran
09-01-2013, 02:24 AM
I might try to write in my hideous upstairs neighbours. If I can find a use for two drunken layabouts whose conversations consist of swearing at each other at the top of their voices. *sigh*

sarahdalton
09-01-2013, 02:43 AM
The thing is, each couple has a game they play in certain situations. That's possibly their particular game. She asks his permission, he acknowledges her asking, she does what she wants anyway. It's all about the balance of power

I get it, but to me money is independence, and even having to go through a power play rigmarole suggests that she's lacking in independence, you know...

Still, it was a snippet in their lives. I can't really judge on that.

I don't hear too many interesting questions. More often than not I'm on the bus with students who have the most boring conversations ever:

'Omg, Admin Law is like the hardest exam evor. Wot mark did you get?'

'Like a 62. It was so bad. I'm so going to fail the essay, but, like, the lecture is at 9am and I just can't be arsed to go. You going out tonight?'

'Yeah, you?'

'Yeah.'

'Did you see ____ on Friday? They were wasted.'

'I know, it was well funny.'

'Tonight is gonna be well good.'

'Yeah.'

The worst thing is I know I was EXACTLY the same at Uni.

Sci-Fi Stacey
09-01-2013, 03:06 AM
I heard a very sad conversation between two women. I assume sisters. The one sister looked emotionally bankrupt, and was crying. Her husband had done "it" again. The tone of the sisters reply led me to believe he had cheated. She told her to leave the lying SOB, because obviously he had no intention of ever stopping. The sister defended him, and it really struck me what she said.

"What about forever relationships? What about loving someone passed their mistakes and making it through the struggles? I'm a fool, and I'm tired of not feeling anything but shame."

I overheard the conversation a week or two ago and it had gnawed at me. Day before yesterday I had a writing prompt and the "broken woman" came alive in my writing. I changed her story. I wish I could have done it literally, but fictionally she got a new beginning.

Is that twisted or what? My husband thinks I'm odd. ;)

Susan Littlefield
09-01-2013, 05:42 AM
I might try to write in my hideous upstairs neighbours. If I can find a use for two drunken layabouts whose conversations consist of swearing at each other at the top of their voices. *sigh*

But, what an interesting scene you can turn that into, especially to add local flavor to a story!


I heard a very sad conversation between two women. I assume sisters. The one sister looked emotionally bankrupt, and was crying. Her husband had done "it" again. The tone of the sisters reply led me to believe he had cheated. She told her to leave the lying SOB, because obviously he had no intention of ever stopping. The sister defended him, and it really struck me what she said.

"What about forever relationships? What about loving someone passed their mistakes and making it through the struggles? I'm a fool, and I'm tired of not feeling anything but shame."

I overheard the conversation a week or two ago and it had gnawed at me. Day before yesterday I had a writing prompt and the "broken woman" came alive in my writing. I changed her story. I wish I could have done it literally, but fictionally she got a new beginning.

Is that twisted or what? My husband thinks I'm odd. ;)

It's neat you were able to take something like this and turn it around into a story. I still tend to use things I might have heard as a kid long ago, or even things I have heard or seen recently, in a story (with a whole lot of embellishment).

shakeysix
09-08-2013, 06:41 PM
I heard this one in my dentist's office last Friday. I was goofy on laughing gas and plugged into Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on my i-pod. In a pause between albums I heard this:

Dr. Hopkins to nurse: "I'll need a smaller one."

Some scraping on the instrument tray. Nurse : "Here"

Dr. Hopkins: "Smaller" (I am a small person and the teensy roots on my molars have often flummoxed my dentists over the years.)

More scraping: "Here"

"That won't do. There has to be a smaller one."

Nurse (tersely): "This is the smallest."

Dr. H. sighs : "Guess I'll have to make it work."

I crank the i-pod and return to "If Only I Could Remember My Name."

snitchcharm
08-12-2014, 02:41 AM
Bringing this thread back to share something I heard in a coffee shop the other day. I dunno if I'll be able to use it, but maybe someone else can!

These two men in their forties were at the table behind mine, fancy execs by the looks of them. One was talking about how when he was in college, he'd started out as a music major before "stupidly" switching to finance. He'd had a custom-made trumpet worth thousands of dollars, and when he quit the major a friend offered to buy it from him with payments. He agreed--but the friend only made a couple of payments before absconding.

"It wrecked me for years," the guy said. "I would have dreams about finding this so-called friend and beating the s**t out of him." (The other exec was nodding and mm-hmm-ing, clearly not that interested.)

"Well," the first guy says, "you'll never guess what happened the other day. I saw a flyer for a show at [local bar] and get this, it's the a**hole who stole my horn. So I was thinking about showing up there and confronting him. Maybe he still has it."

Maybe it's just because I play music too and I'd be murderous if someone stole my trombone, but I was hooked. I keep wondering if the guy did end up going to the show or getting his trumpet back.

thepicpic
08-12-2014, 11:10 AM
When I was between classes at uni people-watching almost became a hobby. Not that the presence of many pretty women affected that... *ahem*

During one of my numerous trips to see my consultant, they were once again running late. The corridor was full, including one particular woman who clearly never needs a phone because she could just shout to whoever she wanted to speak to, anywhere in the world. She regaled us all with the latest (for the time) exploits of 'Shirley' from Worksop. The only thing I took away from the whole trip was that this Shirley doesn't like beaches.
Then there's the people around you encounter. On one bus trip I met a chap who, amongst other things, nearly got blown up going to the pub during the blitz and rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous on cruises during the fifties. At the library I'm working at we've got a fellow former student (equally disillusioned) and a man who was a health and safety inspector.

Like LOTLOF, I have friends I talk to online. Both being gamers, my conversations with one often get pretty surreal. It was during one of these conversations that the line "You know something went wrong in your life when you're being chased round a cave by an angry, one-armed zombie" was uttered. I have made it my mission to one day work that into my writing.

JustSarah
08-12-2014, 11:54 AM
When I eavesdrop (and yes I admit doing it sometimes), what I'm looking for is more the rhythm of conversation, and less ideas for a story.

Then I use what I learned from the practice story, to carry those writing principles over to a different story with my own characters.

shakeysix
10-08-2014, 08:15 AM
Had to resurrect this because of a conversation I overheard today between the girls in my homeroom.

Amy: "You know how you always think nobody is stupider than Cristian? Alonso is."

(Cristian and Alonso are senior jocks; nice looking boys but no scholars.)

Tania: "Alonso has gotten stupider since he got that stupid tattoo gun off e-bay. He wanted to give me one of his free tattoos but I'm not that stupid!"

Amy: "I thought he was only giving free tattoos for two weeks."

Tania: "Well, he was, but he has to hide the gun from his mom so he doesn't get much practice so he has to give them away free until he gets better. He keeps turning his screw ups into smiley faces and rabbits."

Amy: "That's why Cristian has to wear long sleeves now."

Amy: "Yeah. His Mom and Dad are going to kill him. You can't hide something like that from your own parents. Did you hear about the girl in Great Bend with the boob?"

Tania: "Oh yeah. She should have never asked Alonso to spell anything!"

chompers
10-08-2014, 10:12 AM
I get it, but to me money is independence, and even having to go through a power play rigmarole suggests that she's lacking in independence, you know...

Actually, as someone who is regarded as independent, I do this, even when I am the breadwinner. It's not MY money, but OUR money, so I'm acknowledging that when I ask. It's not about seeking permission, but rather about showing that he's an equal in the relationship. And he does the same.

Becky Black
10-08-2014, 03:53 PM
Can't see me ever using it in a book but the following was the greatest one I ever heard. The scene, two young guys in a Starbucks in the UK...

Guy #1: "Who's that bloke? Went to America?"
Guy #2: :e2shrug: :baffled:
Guy #1: "He's a twat."
Guy #2: "Piers Morgan?"
Guy #1: "That's him!"

Me: :roll:

Filigree
10-08-2014, 04:03 PM
God, yes.

My recent favorite was overheard in a Safeway grocery store a month ago: a well-dressed fortyish woman with a harried expression, wedged into a quieter nook in the wine section. I only heard this part of her cell phone convo: 'Well, don't blow it up. Just call Animal Control.'
:Shrug:

Zaffiro
10-08-2014, 05:51 PM
'Well, don't blow it up. Just call Animal Control.'
:Shrug:

That's beautiful.

Part of me is dying to know, but most of me is glad I never will. It's just perfect as it is.

aliceshortcake
10-10-2014, 11:35 AM
Overheard on a train a couple of years ago:

First elderly lady: "I wish I knew what happened to some of the old family photos. I had one of Auntie Vi and her dog Bobby but I haven't seen it for years."

Second elderly lady: "Auntie Vi? Oh, I remember going to her house a couple of times when we were kids. She was the one with that funny little furry rug draped over the back of her chair."

First elderly lady: "That was him! That was Bobby! He was run over by a van and she wanted something to remember him by."

Bolero
10-10-2014, 02:38 PM
@Alice :D Eyewatering.

A lovely one - not mine - I read it in a Reader's Digest I think - or a magazine column. It went:

Mother (narrator) travelling with her kids, kept them entertained in a service station restaurant with the game of guessing the profession or lifestory of the other diners around them. One time, a fellow diner stopped by their table on her way out and said, "Thought you might like to know, I'm not a secret agent, I teach lip reading."