What kind of person horns-in on the conversations of complete strangers? A well-meaning woman who justifies her actions by calling them well-meaning. Nice to meet you. I’ve horned so often, it would make Gillespie Dizzy.
If I overhear someone touch on a subject that I’m familiar or have an opinion, I uncontrollably, and generously, contribute my two cents. I don’t know if my reaction is rooted in insecurity, confidence or Long Island but whatever the reason, overhearing is not a problem. I don’t have to lean my ear against walls or strain my neck to catch a snippet of dialogue. Through evolution, human beings have adapted for cell phones, blue tooths (teeth?) and self-importance by losing the ability to whisper.
If not for David Caruso (“CSI: Miami”), whisperers would be extinct. You can’t find them in movie theaters or churches. You can’t even find them in the birthplace of the whisper: the library. Have you shushed recently? You’re more likely to get a dirty look than a hushed tone. Last time I put my finger to my lips toward a child, he told me to stop picking my nose or he’d tell his mommy.
Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join in. So if someone is talking loud enough for me to hear every nuance, the conversation is fair game. I’ll chime in faster than a National Symphony percussionist.
• Large mirror, Forever 21 fitting room: “Yes, yes, it looks great on you – buy it already.”
• Line at Starbucks: “Just get the scone.”
• Waiting at DMV: “Yeah, it is supposed to rain on Friday.”
Last month my family went to a community center to see the play, “Amadeus.” While waiting for it to start, two women on my left began talking loudly. I listened, as my husband looked at the playbill and my sons chatted about something I’m too old to comprehend. Before long I realized the women were talking about my oldest son’s high school graduation ceremony five years ago.
Me, leaning in their direction: “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation ...”
Me, continuing despite sons racing from theater and husband elbowing me: “ ... but I think I was at the graduation you’re talking about.”
Although their initial looks registered shock and disgust, they seemed friendly enough after we determined that we were, indeed, at the same ceremony. Note: They moved two rows back during intermission.
I told a few folks about the exchange and asked if they’d have interjected, too. Every single person had the same answer: “Never.” I was forced to face the horrifying conclusion that I’m surrounded by people who are wrong. But their reaction did make me hesitate to horn-in when the most recent opportunity arose.
I was in line at Giant and overheard a young woman talk to her friend ... about my daughter. Not only was her name mentioned, the story being told was quite distinct. Fighting the urge to interrupt, I took out my cell phone, called my daughter and told her what I was hearing. After describing the talker to her, I hung up and within seconds the talker’s cell phone rang. Stunned and blushing, she snapped her head in my direction, to find me waving.
It was my first remote horn-in. Dizzy would be proud.
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