Overheard

[Space Needle]

Overheard recently on buses and in coffee shops:

  • “If you alternate between espresso and tea, you get more caffiene because they work differently.”
  • “I hate cursive. It sucks. When we learned cursive, we had to write only in cursive for the whole year. After that, I never wanted to use it again. It was a wasted year.”
  • “And they’re also really into the death penalty – I mean, I know you’re into the death penalty – but they’re really into the death penalty.”
  • Man in his 50s to man in his 20s: “Were you there for Kent State?”

Look Down

I was out at the end of Pier 62/63 again today, looking down at the little fish that drift around there. Something big appeared in the water in my peripheral vision, and my eyes moved automatically in that direction. It was a school of a dozen enormous fish. They just slipped by silently, almost unseen.

Tonic

We tried to straighten it out when the waiter told us that he’d gotten the glasses confused. But now I’m pretty sure that I have her vodka tonic and she has my gin and tonic. I don’t trust my taste for these things though. This reminds me of the pizza we had earlier. One side of it slid off the tray and made a jump to freedom somewhere between the oven and the table. Samantha said that it made sense that our pizza would do that – she couldn’t say why, just that it did. I think I get it. It has nothing to do with Murphy’s Law or any of that – it just seems like it works better for us this way tonight.

Sex and Violence

The sound of the impact was followed by a crunch and a grunt. Then there was a bicycle under a Ford Ranger and a cyclist sprawled out on the street. The cyclist got up straight away and tried to tug his bike out from under the car, before the driver was even able to climb out and check on him. When she got out beside him, he pointed at his front tire, which was wedged under her front tire. She jumped back inside and backed up the car.. He lifted his bike back upright and gave the front wheel a spin to check for warping. She stepped back out and stood by, nervously touching the handlebars and then his arm. After only a few more words had been said, the cyclist was retrieving the frozen pizza he’d lost in the accident and riding away. She got back into the car and completed her right turn. All of this happened while I stood on the corner across the street waiting for the traffic light to change.


My down-the-hall neighbor’s phone rings loudly enough that it can be heard from both the hallway and the laundry room. It rang earlier while I was loading my clothes into the dryer. By the time I’d gotten to the hallway, the answering machine had kicked in. The volume of the answering machine was even louder than the ringer’s volume, and I overheard part of the message being recorded – enough of the message to get the gist of it. Honestly, I may have lingered in the hallway for slightly longer than usual. It was interesting, but out of respect for my neighbor’s privacy I can’t repeat what I heard. However, I will say this: That dude is getting lucky tonight!

Route 74

The hot air balloons – two dots that were bobbing up and down behind a hill to the north – have disappeared behind the trees. A parachute-shaped kite dives toward the ground at least three times before recovering. At the lowest point of each dive, I’m surprised that it doesn’t swipe against the ground and collapse. When the kite plunges toward the earth a fourth time, I’m surprised that it does touch the ground and collapse. Some of the people that we saw in the park are in the parking lot now, loading their things and their dogs into cars.


A bus pulls up at the stop across the street and the driver shuts off the engine. He has no passengers. Dusk fades to nighttime over the fifteen minutes the driver spends with his newspaper. We watch from the bus stop across the street. A few minutes into his reading, he climbs out of the driver’s seat and paces to the back of the bus, where he settles in with his legs stretched out on the seat in front of him. He ends up back in the front of the bus, and waits for the clock to click over to a given time. He starts up the engine and maneuvers into the old navy base checkpoint. He gets the bus turned around and pulls up to the curb in front of us.

Good Day

["Eek" graffiti]

A man with a big smile, wide teeth, and friendly voice steps up beside me: “Are you having a good day today?”

“Yes. I’m having a good day.”

“I’m having a good day today because I got paid.” He steps off the curb just as the traffic light changes in our favor and strolls across the street, beaming.

Uncle Jim

I noticed, over Samantha‘s shoulder, that an old man was trying to catch my eye. I returned his stare with a noncommital nod and stayed with my conversation.

Eventually he walked over to our table and interupted us, “You look just like my nephew.” He was wearing a baseball cap with redundant USAs stitched into the front and the bill.

My answer was, “Okay.”

He wanted me to verify that I wasn’t his nephew. He asked for my age instead of my name, but my answer left him undecided.

“Do you have an Uncle Jim?”

“No. But I can call you Uncle Jim if you want.”

“I’m sorry to bother you guys. You should know that you have a twin. I’m sorry to bother you.”

He returned to his table and sat down, facing away from us this time. Another customer rushed past him on his way out, but was sidetracked into a short exchange with Jim.

Samantha and I continued talking, until Jim wandered over again and leaned over us. He had something on his mind. “Sorry to interrupt again. I just wanted to let you know, I wrote . . .” and he froze there with his mouth open on wrote.

I prompted him, “You wrote . . . ?”

“I wrote a novel. It’s called Free Range, and Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall made a movie from it.”

“Okay.”

“It’s a good movie. You should see it.”

“It sounds good. I’ll watch for your name in the credits.”

He hesitated, “. . . it’ll say ‘James Rogers’.”

He looked at Samantha, “Sorry to interrupt you guys,” then he looked at me, “You have a twin.” He gave us the thumbs up and sauntered off.

We didn’t find the book or the author on either the shelves or the computer last night at Borders. But, sadly, imdb.com reports that the movie is based on a book by Lauran Paine.

Gag Reflex

A pigeon, with feather leg warmers growing all the way to its ankles, pecks at a morsel on the sidewalk. The crumb tastes inedible, and by reflex the bird opens its beak and drops the crumb back onto the sidewalk. It gives the speck another try and it still tastes bad, so it lets it go. It’s starting to get agitated, maybe by my presence on the other side of the window. It takes at least three more frantic swipes at the crumb, the gag reflex kicking in each time, and finally it skitters away.