Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Buddy, This Ain't A Phone Booth

Two early warnings. One, this post has NOTHING to do with bicycles. Two, I'm probably going to sound like Andy Rooney. It can't be helped.

So I'm getting ready to enjoy a lunch with Dear Spouse at one of the local Panera Bread joints. The place is pretty crowded, but D.S. scouts a table in a packed corner while I wait out the grub. When I sit, she gives me a look that -- being tuned to the same frequency after 12 years of marriage -- I correctly interpret as, "Please do not say a word, because I'm really listening intently to someone else's loud cell phone conversation, and you're going to want to listen too." Our brains really work like that. It's sweet yet kind of sad.

Here's the thing. I like living in a connected world. I like that I can drag a laptop out of The Cycle World Headquarters, set up camp at a coffee joint, grab their wi-fi, and make silly words appear on the Interwebs. I like that when I fell down and cracked my femur like a wishbone, I had a device handy that could summon paramedics within minutes (a cell phone, not an "I've fallen and I can't get up!" button). We don't have a land line, the 21st century's answer to the rotary-dial phone (kids, ask your parents). We are firmly in the wired generation, though more toward the "phones with big buttons" end of it.

With all that said, please explain to me WHY anyone would choose to have the following conversation (paraphrased slightly, but both D.S. and I can corroborate that it's very true to the actual found dialogue) loudly in a crowded restaurant:

"You really screwed the pooch."
 [inaudible response on other end of call from -- I assume -- the pooch-screwer] 

"How much did you spend on strippers yesterday?"
[inaudible again, though apparently this person's carnal interests transcend canines]

"That's $600. You know what I did with $600 yesterday? I got glasses for me and my wife."
[ah, so we've answered the previous question -- and determined the exchange rate between pooch-screwing at the gentlemen's club and professional optometry]

"Your boy's still in diapers. You know how many diapers you could buy for $600?"
[great, the pooch-screwer has reproduced -- just what the gene pool needs]

"When somebody asks your son where his dad is, do you want him to say that you're with the strippers?"
[wasn't paying attention to his answer here, as I was still trying to work out the pooch-screwing/glasses/diapers story problem in my head]

"How old are you now?"
 [geez, wonder if this guy knew how much math he was going to have to do for a 2-pair-of-glasses/undetermined-number-of-diapers trip to see naked ladies]

"When I was 24, I was shootin' Eye-rack-ees."
[Gulf War 1.0, I assume -- though I'm starting to feel like this guy is the type to just hop a civilian 747 to Baghdad and go all Rambo-style free agent, which only adds more fun to the imagined backstory]

NOTE: At this point, an older gentleman at the next table pipes up to his wife (with more volume and sarcasm that my passive-aggressive "I'll just blog about this later" pansy self would have ever dared), "Oh, so he was shootin' Eye-rack-ees!" She shushes him.

"Because I care for you, and because I used to DJ there and I know the guy who owns the place, I called him and got you banned there for a year."
[even I don't know what to do with this one]

Now part of me feels kind of bad sharing all this (and part of me worries that my snark will somehow make it back to Panera Rambo who will hunt me like the sniveling blog-weasel I am), but it's not like I opened the guy's mail or something. He was pretty much shouting in a small space filled with total strangers, as if somehow his phone plan included unlimited soundproof bubble minutes. If anything, I feel bad for the pooch-screwer, who probably had no idea that he was on quasi-speakerphone having his life choices and parenting skills dressed down in front of a lunch crowd.

I have no point. Other than maybe this: Interested in writing fiction? Don't worry about coming up with creative stuff. Reality is much better, and it usually falls in your lap when you're just trying to enjoy a tasty sandwich.

Extra-special thanks to my wife for the memory assistance -- and more importantly, proving yet again why we're together. I never dreamed I'd be lucky enough to marry someone who shares my sick and twisted appreciation of schadenfreude*. Peas in a pod, we are. 

*Don't have a useless and/or pretentious postgraduate degree in a liberal arts field? Wikipedia can help, as can the -- WARNING, NOISY LINK THAT'S NOT SAFE FOR WORK -- musical Avenue Q. Proof that I have a useless and pretentious postgraduate degree in creative writing? I spelled "schadenfreude" correctly without looking.

1 comment:

Steve Fuller said...

I have a cell phone, which is more of a work leash than a phone. For the life of me I can't imagine having that conversation in a public place, cell phone or in person. People's sense of decorum has pretty much gone down the drain. We have a person at my office who can often be heard talking on the phone in the men's room. I don't quite understand that one either.