Thursday, 22 September 2016

‘De-phoning’… It’s a thing

Why do people talking on their cell phones make me want to hurl my tea at them?

I know I’ve been one. I have absolutely been that person. I try not to be though because whenever I hear someone doing this, my imagination runs wild with all of the ways that I could de-phone them. Yes, I am deciding to call that a thing, ‘de-phoning’ … watch for it, it will be trending soon. I’ll start a whole de-phoning movement with marches and coffee shop raids and some sort of transit protest… because if there is ever a place that is more in need of de-phoning than a coffee shop, it’s a crowded bus at rush hour. Are you with me?

I really don’t get it though. Why? Why does this whole hearing one side of a conversation (typically at high volume) thing drive me so crazy? Why am I so unable to focus when someone is doing this across the room as opposed to say, when a couple of people are chatting away at the table right next to me? One would think that of these two scenarios the cell phone talker would be the easier one to ignore… and yet.

Me thinks I know why it is that my brain in particular hates this annoyance so very much. It’s simple really… I think it’s because I write.

I write for a living and quite simply I love nothing more than to overhear a conversation and pillage it for a script. It’s extremely artistically inspiring when say, for example, I overhear someone describe their family reunion to a friend. The way their Dad felt it necessary to ‘claim his space’ by refusing to wear pants in his living room or the details of a cousin who this person can’t help but yell at every time he sees him even though he wishes he didn’t, because (as he confides to his friend) he cares so very much for their well being and would rather just hug them … and yet he can’t.

All of these conversations I overhear are wonderful resources for the characters I develop with M. It’s all about these specifics, all about the details of a scent, the way someone placed a mug in front of you (I overheard someone once dissect this movement for a solid five minutes, determined to prove that the fact that this person placed the handle away from them was evidence that they were angry). It’s these contradictions between feeling and action, such as wanting to hug but yelling instead, that I find so fascinating about human behaviour, about life.

However! When I only hear one side of a conversation, I miss out on all this detail! I miss out on so much! Like what was it they said that made you exclaim, “Noooo waaaay?!”… And why did you fall silent and cup your eyes in your hand like that for a few minutes afterward (and in doing so elicit such a strong desire in me to get up and hold you)? I think it’s the missing out on the details of what you are responding to that is truly what drives me batty. I think my brain goes wild trying to fill in the gaps, even when I make my best effort to block out the noise and focus. I can’t help it, I have to know what the story is.

Now, admittedly, this post makes me come off like a bit of a creep, something I’ve already confessed to in an earlier post on my nightly routine. I know, I’m not supposed to listen in. I really shouldn’t be jotting down notes when I overhear a student confessing to his friend that he is sleeping with his professor and isn’t sure how to navigate the affair’s end, come graduation. I know that what I am supposed to do is put in my headphones and mind my own business, but alas…

I cannot help it. I am a curious observer and listen-in-er. I’m a documenter of all the details that I find fascinating in life. I apologize, but if you are having a conversation next to me in a cafe, there may just be a flicker of you folded into one of M&J’s next characters. There may come a day when we write a story about a type-A college student, who returns home for a family reunion to make amends with a beloved, estranged cousin, only to find herself having to stand up to her overbearing, decidedly pant-less father, when the professor she’s been having an affair with for the last four years shows up on their doorstep… Or something to that effect. It’s a starting point anyway.

I also apologize if I happen to hurl a tea cup at you during one of my ‘de-phoning’ raids. I’m sorry, but to be fair you are denying me details (that I have no right to know) and I just can’t stand for this type of thing any longer!

‘De-phoning’ … watch for it, it’s a thing.

- J

*J, they are also talking in public which to me is fair-game. - M

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Maira Gall