Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Last week I was eating alone at The Mediterranean Restaurant in Wilmington and--as in my wont--I was eavesdropping on the conversation of a group of men sitting at an adjacent table.  After the men had completed their "business-related" conversation, their topic turned to food.  When one of the men began to wax rhapsodic about a favorite grilled cheese sandwich, I felt I had found a kindred spirit and I interjected myself into the conversation by asking, "Do you know that April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day?"  Naturally they asked how I would know such a fact and I told them I have a daily reminder of events sent to my e-mail.  I told them that a friend of mine and I were "grilled cheese connoisseurs" and that we had an ongoing quest to find--and rate--the best grilled cheese sandwich and we were going to celebrate on the 12th with our decision.

The four of us continued with the food-related conversation and then one of the men said that the best grilled cheese sandwich he had was in Monaco and then he said, "Monaco is a country."  Immediately offended that he would think that I didn't know that Monaco is a country, I said, "Oh, we had that in book-learnin' when I went to school."  He realized his faux pas when one of the other men hooted at my response.  I continued, "Oh, gosh, I even know that Monte Carlo is the capital;  do you know what the natives are called?"  He was obviously embarrassed by his companion's laughter at his condescension and I said, "They're called Monogosques."

My brother lectures me often about my reaction to perceived slights but I have noticed that some people from other states think that we are ignoramuses. On Saturday, while seated next to a couple, I noticed a regional speech difference and I asked if they were from New York or New Jersey. They both stated that they were from New Jersey. In further conversation, the man said that he'd gone to college in New Jersey at the state university.  Knowing that New Jersey has only ONE state university, I said, "Oh, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers." He was obviously surprised that I knew Rutgers University, let alone the name of the school's teams, as he asked, with a note of condescension,  "You know Rutgers?" I asked, incredulously, "WHY would you think that I wouldn't know the STATE University of New Jersey?" He said, "Most Ohioans we've met don't know it."  I said, "I would expect YOU to know that Ohio has a number of state universities so I would think that you would expect Ohioans to know YOUR state university." He could tell that I was irritated and he tried to mollify it by saying how Ohioans had been so "friendly", but being a poor sport, I actually said, "New Joisey" instead of New Jersey in my next sentence.

Later, in a restaurant, I was relating the story to my husband when a man in the next booth turned around and said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation and I wanted to know if you'd heard that because of the terrible economic conditions they are going to combine Ohio University and Indiana University and move both of them to the state lines and they are going to call it I.O.U."  We all groaned at the joke and realizing he was a fellow eavesdropper, I shared some of my own "overheard conversations":

AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT: When smoking in restaurants was still legal, my husband and I were sitting in a local restaurant and my husband lit a cigarette. An older couple were sitting at a table adjacent to ours and I heard her complain to her husband about the cigarette smoke. I tapped my husband on the hand and asked him to put out the cigarette. Later on, the woman was telling her husband that she wished that she could take a Lifesaving class. I leaned over and said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation about the lifesaving and I wanted you to know that the American Red Cross offers those classes and here's the number of the local Red Cross office." She thanked me profusely and within a few seconds, she realized that if  I'd heard about the lifesaving class, then I had heard her complaining about the cigarette. She said, "I didn't mean anything by saying that about the cigarettes." I told her I was trying to get him to quit anyway!

AT A COLUMBUS RESTAURANT: We were sitting in a restaurant and the tables were very close. From the conversation, I could tell that the couple beside us were gay. During their conversation, one complained about the War Sui Gai and the other said that he wished that they had gone to Schmidt's in German Village. I leaned across and asked, "Did you ever eat Chinese-German food?" They looked at me as if I were crazy and I gave the punch line: "It's good, but an hour later you're hungry for power!" They laughed but said, "That's terrible." I said, "I know it's not politically correct, but how many Chinese-German jokes are there?" It was about a minute later when they called for their check and obviously they realized that if I'd heard the Chinese-German conversation, then I'd probably heard the other--intimate--details they had been sharing!

AT MY DOCTOR'S OFFICE: I was sitting beside a woman in the doctor's office. She was busy talking to the man next to her, but it was no normal conversation. She was talking through clenched teeth and it became apparent that the two were having an affair and that the wife was having him followed so the doctor's office was the only safe place for them to meet to talk. She was giving him an ultimatum, "Either you leave her--OR........ "  He was giving the usual excuses which she didn't want to hear and then I became so UPSET because my name was called and I had to go into see the doctor--so I never learned the outcome of it!

The joys of eavesdropping.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think YOURS are pretty good too. ML