Over on the Ploughshares blog, my second writing prompt revels in the wonders of eavesdropping and overheard conversations. Whether you recently overheard some choice nuggets of wisdom or gossip or are looking to sharpen your ability to write dialogue, click on over to join the fun.
Over the holidays, while waiting for the restroom, I overheard this exchange and have been so enraptured by it (read to the end to feel the rapture) that I’m convinced at least one person, if not multiple, could write a short story, if not a novel, from this tender seedling. Please do share if you do!
“Mommy, it’s not coming out.”
“Well,” says the mother, from a neighboring stall, “you don’t want to eat your fruits and veggies. That’s what happens when you don’t eat your fruits and veggies.” Time passes. “Are you ready? Do you want my help?”
The mother flushes, exits her stall. “Get out,” she says, “so I can come in.” A big brother, about seven or eight but large for his age, comes out, smirking. A gold earring, maybe it’s a stick-on, gleams in one of his lobes. The mother enters the stall. Clucks her tongue. “Why isn’t there a toilet seat cover?” She sighs, loudly.
“Mommy,” the big brother says, face near the closing door, eyes half-closed and dreamy, “I love you.”
If you liked that, here’s another inter-generational overheard, in Florence: https://ancawrites.com/2006/03/30/bargello/
I went to Florence in October, after visiting my brother in Milan. “Florence: We’re More than Just the Renaissance” seemed to be the city slogan. Still, I wanted to see the museums. I took a trip to the Bargello, which houses Donatello’s David, and skipped Michaelangelo’s masterpiece all together.
As I looked at him—beautiful, sensuous, conceited—I listened to a British woman (sleek, silver bobbed hair) discuss the piece with her messy redhead granddaughter, freckled and bespectacled, 11 or 12 at most.
“What do you think?” the elder asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how does it make you feel?”
“I can’t explain it.”
“If he were to talk to you, what would he say?”
“Would it help if I told you what I think?”
“Well,” the grandmother continued, “I think he’s very sexy.” The girl snickered. “And look at how his hand is on his hip. Isn’t it effeminate? I think he’s quite satisfied with himself. And who’s he standing on? What is that?”
“A body. No. A head.”
“What’s in his hand?”
“And what did David use his slingshot for?”
“Right. And look at how he’s standing. I think it says ‘don’t fuck with me.’”
Overheard at the Munch retrospective at MoMA:
Mother: What’s wrong?
Teenage Son: [Eyes blank, shrugging] I just wouldn’t put any of these paintings in my house, that’s all I’m saying.
Oh c’mon, what’s a home without a little melancholy, despair, and sexual humiliation?
(Another hopefully-beefier overheard in the works for next week.)