The other day, I struck eavesdropping gold.
I was in O Cafe, my spot on the corner where I’ve been trying to go once a day to spend some time working (gasp) outside the house.
I usually stay for about an hour, which is how long you get free internet there. I like the change of scenery, but mostly I like to listen in on people.
In business, “a whale” is what they call a big, free-spending catch of a customer. In eavesdropping, it’s a guy like this.
I spotted him at the service counter, and knew he was going to be a good one.
He stood at the part of the counter where you wait for your latte, leaning imposingly into the barista’s space. He looked around like someone had called him and disappeared.
“Can I help you?” One of the servers asked.
“Uh, I ordered a quinoa salad?” He said, in the same obvious tone that you’d say, “Uh, I own this place?”
“Yes, I know, I just took your order. It takes a few minutes.”
Truly, he’d JUST ordered it.
“Oh! OK,” he said with exaggerated patience, “You’ll let me know when it’s ready?” He asked this with a nodding head and raised eyebrows, the same look you give a post-tantrum toddler when you say, “Are we ready to behave?”
This was a guy who’s constantly let down by the world’s ineptitude. I was excited.
As soon as his friend entered and sat down with him, my whale started unloading, loudly. I picked up my pile of stuff and moved to a closer table so I could hear everything. I didn’t get every word, but I got plenty.
What I could tell:
He’s in a legal situation with his apartment, he has no evident job but does have a “benefactor,” everyone lets him down, no one has any follow-through, and nothing is his fault.
If there were a word cloud of his running monologue, the biggest phrases would be:
“Never heard from her.”
“Never heard from him”
“Is that authentic? Is that a friend?”
“Le pain quotidien”
“Anyway, blah blah blah.”
Here are the bits I heard the best, broken down by topic:
On Disappointing Friend 1, Who Toots Around
“I mean, if we’re going to get back in our lives and be professionals and not feel like we have nothing better to do than take baths, he’s on the wrong path…it’s frustrating.”
“He never responded when I said ‘Just as long as you let me know by noon.’ I realize I’m a stickler and also an anomaly when it comes to time – but really, I’ve been told a multitude of times that Tuesday’s the day he’s free, and then I try him on Tuesday…Not a word. And then, sure enough, next time I see him is in the Hamptons, you know, in his little retro van, that retro car that he’s always tooting around in that everybody else hates.”
On Disappointing Friend 2, Who Does Nothing
“We met there and he was late, we sit at a table, there’s a sign there it says seat yourself, it’s 4 dollars for a coffee. He balks when we sit down and he’s worried it’s going to be expensive, he’ll be locked into a table. He wants to get a coffee to go and sit in the front of Pain Quotidien, where we’re surrounded by people…He says, ‘I want a job, I should volunteer for some organization,’ and then he never does anything…I’m so depleted. So, so depleted. To drag me out of my house and make me get dressed when I have nightmares about going out of the house…It’s criminal.”
On His Disappointing Attorney, Who Sounds Like Trump
“My attorney lives in Boca, likes to play golf, and do next to nothing besides collecting his fee.”
On Disappointing Friend 3, Who Eats 100-Dollar Chicken
“She asked for it, I sent it. And then, guess what: Never heard from her. She said she didn’t read it, it was in some pile…so what is it. Is that a friendship? No. So when we’re together and she puts her arm around me in the Hamptons and says, “Honey,” it feels so inauthentic. Hence, I haven’t heard from her in 15 years. My friend? I thought we were lunching every Tuesday but the last Tuesday we lunched together, I had to manipulate her into picking up my dry cleaning with me, and she says, ‘Oh, haven’t we been here before, picking up your clothes?’ You know, it was a dig.”
(He mimes a knife being thrust and twisted.)
“….And then we sit down at the restaurant and she says the restaurant’s expensive, even though she’s staying at a suite at the Carlyle where coq au vin costs 100 dollars…so, I’m confused.”
On Disappointing Non-Friend, Nick The Fit Model
“Oh, he isn’t a friend, his name is Nick. He was Calvin Klein’s fit model in 1987 when I lucked into shooting the look book. Insanely good looking, Calvin’s perfect body type. So I, by some weird connection, got hired to shoot the lookbook, so buyers all over the world could say Oh, I want 3 suits on page 5, 50 suits on page 13. So Nick was the model for the lookbook, and I fell madly in love with him. Never touched him. We traveled together, I know he’s gay, he’s married with a kid now, kid’s on the autism spectrum, bites people, which I think is a manifestation of the fact that he was inauthentic about his feelings for me.”
On His Hair
“I need a haircut desperately. I need it for court.”
“You’re the best friend, never interrupt, ask all the right questions.”
On Disappointing Friend 4, The No-Show Hairdresser
“He said ‘Come back tomorrow, I’ll cut your hair’ because I needed it for my court date, and then I go back, he’s not there. What a farce. Well, at dinner we were fighting because you know I was just holding my wine. I told him I loved him. I was forbidden to go into the salon again.”
On Disappointing Friend 5, Mary With The Epileptic Child
“My friend has an epileptic child. I spent hours and hours and hours i’d stay at her house, she had a psycho husband. Nutjob. The child had epilepsy. I befriended the nanny, watched the situation, there was some diet they did, tinctures and marijuanas, they were obsessed with this diet. And I told her, the nanny told me that when Mary my friend would leave for work, her daughter would fake an epileptic seizure because she didn’t want to be left alone with the father, but when the father would leave, she would be just fine. I tell Mary this and she stops inviting me to stay. So anyway…why am I telling you this? Because she’s another friend who’s been inauthentic.”
On Disappointing Friend 6, With The Gallbladder
“She said she was going to send me a ticket to go visit her…she had a gallbladder operation and has been recovering for 6 weeks. Never heard from her. Anyway, blah blah blah.”
On Life (And A Finger In The Ass)
“It’s like, when someone takes the finger out of your ass. So, your ass feels better — but you’re supposed to be happy about that? Celebrate it? The finger shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
On The Moron Guardian And Apartment Situation And Incompetence
“I was cleaning my apartment and I met the guardian. Who’s a moron. MORON. MORON! A moron. The post office has now had the key to the private mailbox. In my building. So what do I do, I bring my lease there. They’re like, ‘What are you doing here? That’s for the management company.’ The incompetence is breathtaking. Anyway, blah blah blah.”
On Stolen Bathing Suit Karma
“And then, I DARE buy a new bathing suit. And two days later someone steals it… I wanted this bathing suit, that I dared treat myself to, because I found a bathing suit and goggles and a swim cap, and I was swimming in them. And I said, ‘I’d rather swim in something I feel comfortable wearing without the owners coming up to me and saying, that’s mine.’ And so I buy my own bathing suit. I have my eye on it, I wait for for the bathing suit to go on sale, and so I say ok, I’ll eat spaghetti, tuna from a can for weeks to make up for the 38 dollar deficit to my bank account, and then someone STEALS the bathing suit? It makes me feel creepy about continuing to go to the Y.
“…I mean, I guess it serves me right because I stole for years.”
On The One Honorable Non-Friend And Urban Justice
“You know, after I read those 6 things he wrote about me, I didn’t like him but I respect him. Because he is honorable. And he has follow-through… And my lawyer was like, ‘Be calm, I think I have this under control.’ And by the skin of my teeth, Urban Justice agreed to sign the agreement. I spend 600 dollars for the locksmith to break the door down. They said Oh, we’re going to pay your restitution. They never did. My benefactor did.”
On Conversation And Peter, Disappointing Friend 7
“I don’t want these meetings to be some literally dumping ground. But I literally speak to no one. Except Dr. Wiseman, who I see once a month. And except Peter, who I haven’t heard from since the court date. He even promised me, I said ‘If I get the movie ticket, will I see you next week,’ he said yes, and then I never heard from him. Anyway, blah blah blah. Oh my, I’ve been doing all the talking.”
Anyway, blah blah blah.
Good one, right?