My husband went to the men’s room while we were waiting for the server to bring our check. By the time he returned I was deep in a discussion with a group of women at the next table about the incompetence of the waiter, the dirtiness of the restaurant, where we lived, where we were thinking of living in the future, what our children did for a living, and other little things like that.
“I was only gone for five minutes,” my husband said.
Yes, but the ladies and I bonded over the fact that the waiter took off with our credit cards many minutes before and was now possibly shopping at a nearby mall and we were never coming back to this restaurant again.
“How do you know so much about these people?” my husband will ask.
I don’t know. It just happens! People tell me things.
Okay, maybe I ask a lot of questions.
But I know that one of the clerks at the grocery store works there part time while holding down a full-time job and working on a book about aliens.
And another works there while going to school to be a nurse.
My husband grows somewhat alarmed because he knows if I go to the ladies’ room in a restaurant, I’m likely to be gone a while because I’m listening to someone’s latest story.
I know a lot about the people in the post office, the library, and my favorite card store. But I also find out about the people sitting next to me on a bus, on a plane, or in the doctor’s waiting room.
What I don’t understand is how someone can not know these things. My husband will get off the phone with a friend or relative and I’ll ask what the person said.
“Oh, nothing,” he’ll say.
But they’ve been talking for 10 minutes.
I’ll ask why his friend is getting a divorce, or why they’ve decided to move to another state, or why they’re inviting us to their house for dinner. A party? Do I need to bring a gift? He never knows!
Perhaps it’s the writer in me, gathering all these little bits and pieces of other people’s lives and filing them away to possibly pull out and twist around an fit them into a story.
Or maybe I’m just a pathologically nosy person who never learned not to talk to strangers.