I must have a face that reads:
“Yes, tell me everything you’ve got … no really, what’s on your mind?”
For as far back as I can remember, which is pretty far (those of you who were members of my first grade class at Westfield Elementary know this to be fact), people have felt compelled to divulge even their more personal thoughts and affairs when the only dialogue we’ve exchanged is the simple “hello.”
I’m not sure why people feel the need to do this, or why I’m the candidate deemed worthy of their private notions, but for some reason I’m the dart board for random chitchat. Like the maintenance guy who, when performing his routine maintenance check in my apartment, exposed his boss’ current affair with the “cougar in building 9.” Turns out, the head maintenance guy for my apartment complex is getting more action than I am. Good for him. Not good, however, for the husband of said “cougar.”
I’ve even found that sometimes the “hello” isn’t even a necessary prerequisite for a unique conversation to launch. Take for example the conversation I had three weeks ago while in line to use the bathroom in the downtown area of Disney World. The line stretched for what seemed like miles, and I was close to the end of it. This is about the time the woman directly in front of me in line turned to me and informed me that “all Florida is anymore is immigrants who can’t speak a word of English.”
Apparently this woman had already sized me up enough to know that I wasn’t A. from Florida, and B. an immigrant. More than likely my pasty complexion gave me away. Now if it were my sister standing in my place, I bet this exchange would never have taken place.
Anyway, back to bathroom banter … To this statement I just smiled because really – what do you say to that? But not to worry, my new lady friend was armed with the follow up: “you’re not from around here are you?”
I informed her that no, I was a North Carolina girl born and bred, to which she responded with: “North Carolina, huh? You sure don’t sound like it.”
Now the bathroom line was rather lengthy, but by the time we reached the front of it I now knew the following about my new acquaintance:
1. Her name is Gloria
2. She liked my dress, bought one like it last week at the Dress Barn but her “idiot husband” left it at the table in the mall food court after they had lunch.
3. Lunch that day was Sbarro, by the way.
4. Sbarro is husband’s favorite, although Gloria is not sure why.
5. This place closes at midnight but teenage kids run around ‘til 2 am most nights.
6. Gloria thinks parents that let their kids stay out this late are “morons;” and this is because really “the only thing open past midnight are legs.”
7. The lady currently in the family bathroom has now been in there with her two kids for over 8 minutes.
8. This pisses Gloria off. She was first in line for the family bathroom.
Eventually we make it to the head of this line and a stall opens up. Gloria, as she is in front of me in line, vanishes behind stall door. When the next stall opens up I make moves, and take one guess who’s stall I’ve landed next to … lucky me.
Gloria shouts over the thunderous sounds of flushing toilets all around us: “Jordan? I thought so, recognized your shoes.”
And yes our conversation continued; no bathroom stall wall barrier could hinder this essential chat. And when I was washing my hands directly after, Gloria was washing one sink over declaring that this bathroom “stinks to high heaven,” and the Disney people should really do a better job cleaning this bathroom. Gloria bets the family bathroom is much cleaner.
In synopsis, people I’ve never met always feel comfortable revealing their personal thoughts with me. Maybe that’s why as a writer I feel little apprehension and I tend to “bare all,” as my roommate put it this morning. I keep a journal of these random instances of dialogue, and in 80+ years when I’m long gone I hope that my young-Chase Utley look alike- husband discovers them and publishes them.
They will be great stories for the kids someday.