Eavesdropping At The Ballpark

Last month (wow, it would be last month; welcome to July, people), I wrote about eavesdropping. How the best place to do so was a restaurant. But just as good: A baseball game. Here, a quick and mostly accurate run-down of some of the things I heard from the people my girlfriend and I sat in front of at the game Sunday. My best guess is that this was some sort of a toned-down bachelor party between former college friends, a few of whom are already married and have kids, to celebrate one of the friends being married on the day of our nation’s independence (ironic much?).

A Mutual Friend Throws Away His Relationship:

“Did you hear about Mark?”

“No, what about him?”

“He slept with a co-worker.”

“Oh, Mark”, in a tone suggesting such a choice was not unexpected from the oh-so-wonderful Mark.

A Groomsman to the Groom:

“So what kind of jobs will you have for me on Thursday?”

“Just show up, man. (The bride) might want you to put streamers up, but that’ll be something we all do together.”

“Cool.”

One of the friends’ sisters is about to have a baby with her “partner”.

“We’re just not sure how her Grandma is gonna take it. She doesn’t even know (this person is) gay.”

“Maybe it’ll be fine.”

“Maybe. She is pretty cool.”

“How old is she again, a hundred and six?”

“She’s 93, dude, and she’s pretty cool. She is Southern Baptist, though, so you never know.”

 

Oh, baseball games, you offer so much fodder for the curious writer. I hope you guys enjoyed this brief glimpse in at baseball-game eavesdropping.

 

A Writer Has To Be Willing To Eavesdrop!

Eavesdropping. It’s a ton of fun, really. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love it. Sometimes my friends will ask me, mid-eavesdrop, “What’s going on? Anything good?” They grin, knowing if there is anything good, I won’t hold out on them. I’ll relate it willingly.

You can engage in the practice yourself, no matter where you are. Personally, I find the best places to eavesdrop to be restaurants. People feel free to talk about anything and everything in restaurants–from break-ups to weddings to new babies to promotions to birthday celebrations, and all that occupy the space in between these subjects. Listening in is a great way to hear how different people use language, how they form and respond to dialogue.

Why is this important to a writer?

You can’t discover your new main character for that great novel you’re going to write until you can hear his voice, and before you can hear his voice, you have to hear him talk. Which means letting him talk, and allowing yourself to quiet your mind and listen. Eavesdrop. Figure out the story you’re meant to tell, and when you have a good handle on it, go tell it as best you can!

But you have to be willing to eavesdrop to begin with. Eavesdropping is key to writing someone or something real!