eavesdropping-invention vs. reality


To begin with, I really am aiming to make this a weekly blog (possibly posted on Tuesdays). I see am not off to such a great start. But I’ll get into the habit of doing this and then you won’t be able to shut me up.

That extra zest for running my mouth would come in handy if only I were able to slow it all down so that I might capture a phrase or two in print.

I’ve been working on a collection of fiction, as well as my Creeps. But, with giving the store where I work (an adult/head shop) yet another face lift, I haven’t had time to sit and edit, or observe the creeps that come in closely enough to write about them. We’ll be finished soon, and by then I assume even more creeps will know the semi-secret location of the shop– giving me a plethora of weirdos to document and/or fictionalize.

I often watch people. I study and eavesdrop on strangers constantly and compulsively.  But only strangers. It just isn’t as much fun when you know the person or have a back story on them already. It makes it that much harder for me to invent relationships, events, personalities and chaos for them.

I will sit in a diner, park, or coffee shop and watch people. I listen to bits of their conversations and make up whatever it is that I don’t know. Fill in the blanks like walking talking Mad-Libs.

But in a town like Petaluma, it’s hard to not collect little morsels of information about complete strangers. Everyone knows everyone else.

So when I pick he strangely mute, fleshy man who waddles around the shop at least once a week gawking at semi-nude women, no matter how silent and friendless he may seem, I have to keep that to myself.  Because next thing I know, I’m talking about his silence and roving eyes and someone else has all the answers– “Oh, he’s the brother of the guy who owns McGenericFakeIrishBar and he got hit by a truck. He’s mentally impaired and he collects cans and other recyclables every day to fill his sad tedious days.”

Then I feel like a dick, because I didn’t know any of this and already wrote a story filling in all these gaps. Not only does it make me feel bad about any judgments I may or may not have made, but it fucks up my story.

I don’t want to know their names. I don’t want to know their stories. It leaves less for me to play with. Less make-believe.

More often than not, when presented with such a scenario, I throw my hands over my ears and shout “LA LA LA LA LA LA!!!” and walk away.

And here you were thinking I was just weird.

You would be mostly correct.

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