Random Conversations

Don’t look up… For the love of doggie bacon strips, don’t look up.”


It’s amazing the things you hear (and see) in a coffee shop. The full range of interaction and conversation, from loving and happy to moody and snarky, from impatience dripping with teenage angst to hackles raised over political and religious debate.

It’s fun, and weird. As long as one is sitting on the sidelines and isn’t drawn into the danger zone, that is…

(Go ahead – tell me that you didn’t at least hear a snippet of Kenny Loggins in your head with the phrase, “Danger Zone…” I don’t believe you. 

Or I do believe you, and am jealous of your self-control and focus. You be the judge.

*humming “Danger Zone” as he turns back to the keyboard* )

For example, this morning in a northern town on vacation, perhaps the type of town immortalized by Dream Academy (now you’re humming “Life In a Northern Town”), I got to be a silent observer to the following interactions:

1) A couple of elder statesmen discussing local events. These same gentlemen might accuse the womenfolk of being gossips, but dudes – you really give them a run for their money.

2) A teen and her mom / aunt / other female personage. Their interaction made me wonder: Does the teen du jour always treat the female person with this level of, well, disrespect, or do they just have a really quirky relationship and all is cool?

Or a rather weird mix of both? One will never know.

And finally…

3) The match of the century, with the gregarious, jovial senior dude attempting some engaging (yet trivial and fluffy) conversation with the middle aged dude reading the paper.

This one was a doozy.

I don’t know what reading materials were on his table, but middle aged dude evidently was reading the political section. Senior dude, who already was displaying a tendency to engage any and all in mindless chit chat, decided to make a comment about some political hot topic. Perhaps it was in reference to an article in the paper, perhaps in reference to something else on the table, or perhaps his tendency to chit chat was just set on “drivel-tastic!”

Whatev.

Middle dude, by his concise, polite, but still forceful response, answered the comment AND made it pretty clear to all but the conversationally tone deaf that he really wasn’t in the mood for chit chat, gregariousness, or slightly snarky but innocent commentary.

Senior dude, it would appear, was among the conversationally tone deaf.

Now, I admit that I did not look in that direction, especially since most everyone knew that the train was coming, and senior dude was standing on the tracks. So, I don’t know what prompted senior dude to launch this next salvo…

Perhaps it was frustration in being politely and respectfully dismissed.

Perhaps it was the big dog syndrome, the need to mark the territory that the little dog just piddled on with a stream of flood proportions.

Or, as I might have mentioned, perhaps there was more reading material on middle dude’s table than just the paper, like a Bible for example, and senior dude decided to lay down the hurt.

In any case, he rolled out a founding fathers quote, something about how the biggest wall should be built between religion and state, and sat back in smug satisfaction, bladder empty and tail wagging.

(I will, of course, NOT quote the quote. My skill with mangling quotes is known throughout the world, and I don’t need to display it once again… You’re welcome.)

Senior homie would now be playing the role of “one-legged man in a bottom kicking contest.” And the odds were NOT “ever in his favor.”

Let the whooping begin.

Middle homie, again in polite and respectful tone, proceeded to unload. Articulate, sure of faith and conviction, and impassioned, he fired off his position and thoughts in a direct and forceful manner, with a connected stream of communication that would have made the Apostle Paul (the undisputed master of the run-on sentence!) grin from ear to ear.

Middle dude brought it, including the horse he rode in on, the saddle, related tack and horsey thingies, AND the kitchen sink, which has nothing to do with the horse, but yet seemed to fit somehow. Weird.

And he had a cheerleader. Who I hadn’t mentioned, until just now. Like, right now.

Let me introduce you to…

Grandpa dude.

He and grandson little dude were enjoying a donut trip together, when the big ol’ can of whoop bottom was opened.

And grandpa dude was definitely taking sides.

So middle dude’s presentation was punctuated with nods of agreement, verbal affirmations, and a hearty “Well said, sir” at its conclusion. It was kind of like being ringside at a Holy Ghost revival meeting where the preacher is bringing the word, and the congregation is responding in a very verbal manner.

“GLORY! Uh-HUH!”

Get ye down. (And then, get ye back up again.)

As I said, senior dude was the one-legged man at a bottom kicking contest.

Middle dude was wearing steel-toed footwear.

And grandpa dude was cheering him on.

The hurt, brung it was.

Middle dude wrapped up, grandpa dude grinned, and a hush fell over the room as middle dude picked up his stuff, said a polite “Good day, sir,” and left.

Having witnessed such a fine display of hiney whoopery, grandpa and grandson also made their exit, grinning all the way.

And now, the weird part. 

Perhaps we should call it the *insert whichever party or persuasion that provides you the most humorous value* rebuttal, which always seems to inevitably follow whatever speech you just heard.

Senior dude is now alone over in the corner. And yes, I am so TOTALLY not looking in that direction, keeping my head down over my crochet and iPad, letting my face remain neutral.

And I hear muttering, soto voce, from the corner.

Soto voce?”

Oh – you don’t know that one? Hmm… I could direct you to Google, but I’d never get you to come back, so let me handle this:

Soto voce (SO-toe vo-CHAY) = “half voice.” Not really a whisper, but definitely a softer voice… Sort of.

Google (or a Jedi) am I not. Village Idiot am I. Powerful in the fluffy have I become.

Anyway, back to the muttering…

We were deep into instant replay, where points were being refuted, arguments responded to, and victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. The replay and rebuttal took well over five minutes, whereas the salvo from middle dude was over in about two.

So instant replay isn’t really “instant.” Who knew?

I did hear two words clearly in the midst of the muttering… “Jesus freak.”

So, I think that the big dog found his reserve tank, let fly, and reclaimed his territory in the name of gregariousness, joviality, chit chat, and freedom from religion and that other crapola. Perhaps he revived his deflated personhood and mentally crowned himself Da Man once again.

In any case, he then shuffled off, engaging the unsuspecting in more cheery, trivial stuff, muttering all the while.

It’s amazing the things you hear in a coffee shop. You should try it sometime.

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