Oh, you silly bird…

“Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting burnt and gritty… Been down, isn’t it a pity… doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city…”

Can’t get the song out of my head today. It is so perfect for this kind of weather. Florida is a desperately hot place– seems to sap all of the life right out. I decided to brave it anyhow and go out for a bit of coffee, as I often do.
After a quick dash to catch my bus, rushing on and grabbing a seat, I notice this odd older
man staring at the camera I carry with me. After some silence, he finally stands up and pulls the stop cord frantically.
“Devil box! Devil box! DEVIL BOX!”
And poof, he was gone.
It amused me for two reasons:
1.) He seemed to operate under th
e assumption that cameras do, in fact, steal souls,
2.) If you were sitting on the right side of the bus, you’d think he was pointing at my crotch.

Next bus! It seemed to be uneventful enough to start until a young, very much flaming black man/child stepped on. He had a perfect 70s porn mustache, pants hanging around his hips and a bandanna around his little flaming neck. He was trying to stealthily solicit some of the older riders, which was met with both confusion and blatant disgust. It didn’t work out too well, to say the least. He finally fled after one of the older gentlemen decided he was going to give a piece of his mind, which was rapidly degrading to a bit of his fist.

I was pleasantly surprised to not be hassled on the way to the coffee house, aside from a car randomly trying to drive up the side of the railroad tracks– as I was walking in tha
t exact spot. As much as I need to be plowed into the gravel by a car, I had to do a quick little leap to avoid pulverization. He seemed angered that I had the audacity to walk on the sidewalk. That he was driving on. Ahem.

I try my best to be left alone when I’m writing or otherwise engaged in something I am deeply interested in, but there is never any guarantee some pushy chatterbox won’t decide that I seem the kind of person to drop all and listen about their tales of woe as pertains to a certain boil, a poor sex life (my wife won’t have sex with me… do you like blowjobs? ‘Cause my wife doesn’t…), or how that prostate just isn’t what it used to be. Either way, that was my intent today. Sit quietly, put on some music and write some. The course of my writing was changed a bit thanks to the coffee shop patrons.

I see the usual riffraff … Mullet Man, Wheelchair Guy, That Guy with Urine in a Cup…. (he’s very special, indeed) but did not expect this exchange from a well-dressed Brit:

Well-dressed Brit: “Oi.”
Me: “Hm?”
WDB: “You’re writing.”
Me: “Yes…”
WDB: “Whut about?”
Me: “I have this blog… thing…”
WDB: “Oh. One of those.
Me: “Yeah.”
WDB: “So eh. Why bother? You Americans don’t read.”
Me: “I beg to differ. I read every day.”
WDB: “Right. But not books.”
Me: “Yes. Books. Those pulverized woody bits with binding and such and printing.”
WDB: “Smartarses, all of you.”
Me: “Yes.”
WDB: “Well, right, keep having a go at aiming for something Americans are worthless for.”
Me: “Indeed.”

When he left, he started talking to some other chick at the restaurant next door. I am assuming he was just going around starting fights, because she looked right pissed after only a few minutes.
Oi! Cheers.


Just me.

I listen. It’s what I do… what I will always do.

Without intending to, I overhear most of the conversations around me. It can’t be helped– can’t tune it out. That’s just the way it goes.

I’m an unwilling master at retaining memory of these conversations, too. I can recite most of the details with ease, and forgetting isn’t always an option. Oddly enough, I’ve lost a couple talks completely. Apparently my mind didn’t like those and removes them entirely. Yet, I can recall for you an entire conversation with one of my teachers from the third grade, or incidents from preschool. The brain is a mysterious thing at times.

I was an only child, so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to growing up. I had my cousins, but they were either significantly older or younger than I. So I turned to the next logical step – the animals.

I’ve been told by many that they have never seen someone with the kind of ability I do to converse and relate to animals. I guess I can’t really deny it, as they tend to flock to me. Sadly though, hanging out with animals doesn’t really make you many friends. I spent most of my childhood alone.

Instead, I started listening to the people around me as a source of interaction. I have very odd hearing. It is oversensitive, much like my eyes to light. I hear just about everything going on around me. Somehow, human voice tones are more difficult for me to hear up close than farther away. This has resulted in me missing pieces of conversation to me, but if you’re whispering about me down the hall, I hear it.

That came in handy as a kid, let me tell you.

People have accused me of eavesdropping, but the reality of it is not quite the same. I’ve tried not to listen to what people say around me. As I’m typing this, I have my headphones in, but I can still hear some snippets above and around the music. I can’t stop.

A lot of times, people don’t even hear me. I get talked over in a lot of conversations, I can say things and it goes unheard. There is some ability of mine to almost become invisible without intending to, in a way. I can start to speak, and someone will rapidly talk right over it. I don’t usually bother trying to pick up where I started. I used to be bothered by it, but you get used to these things after a while.

I suppose it amuses me that despite the fact at hand of being dismissed, people tend to note my presence quite often… strangers, mostly. They also have a habit of randomly striking up conversations with me, so apparently I’m seen as a listener before t

hey even truly meet me. I lead an odd life, it seems.

Friends being few and far between for me, I built my whole life around the best places to listen. I hung around coffee shops, and eventually started working at them to have a constant stream of words around me. I heard the darkest secrets of people, found out their fears, joys and mistakes. As a barista, people tend to view you like a bartender. I was told many, many stories in those days. Things they sometimes wouldn’t even tell their family. Such as the man that told me he was gay, and never told anyone before in his life. I convinced him to tell his family, and a week later, he left me a very substantial tip. I gave him the encouragement he needed to finally show who he really was. It was a beautiful thing.

There is one way people will listen without pause – when I tell a story. My attention to the details therein, the little nuances of the event… people note that. They comment on my ability to remember such things; to retain conversations as I do.

So here I am. I do my best communicating in writing, and I’ve learned to enjoy it. Hope you do too.