The Latest from Anglophenia
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Luke Evans‘ barrel-chested machismo may soon be put to good use once again: the Welsh actor is in negotiations to …Read Now
The issues raised by the various adventures of the Doctor and his companions are issues that affect us all, and …Read Now
Although ‘obnoxious-person-talking-loudly-on-phone’ is just as ubiquitous in the UK, the conversations one overhears in the U.S. never cease to amaze me. Whether it’s on the phone or talking loudly to a friend, Americans don’t shy away from revealing their emotions and innermost thoughts. Subjects ranging from therapy sessions to all night orgies are just out there for general consumption. I can’t decide whether people don’t realize everyone can hear, or they just don’t care…..
Recent research suggests we are much more distracted by one-sided conversations than if we listen to both sides of a dialogue. Perhaps because we can’t hear what the other person is saying, our imaginations run wild as we try to fill in the gaps. “So I just threw him out the window” conjures up all manner of foul deeds, whereas the “him” in question referred to a soft toy someone’s child’s had left in a fourth floor apartment; instead of walking down flour floors, the toy was just tossed to its owner. Incidentally, these one-sided conversations are now known as “halfalogues”.
In the UK you mainly hear the “So then I said to ‘im, and he says to me” type dialogue, and you deliberately tune out before falling into a mundanity-induced coma. Not so on this side of the Pond, your options are far juicier. “My therapist says….” is a fairly typical attention-grabber, usually from female twenty-somethings walking very briskly. Increasingly, “My dog therapist says that I should …” is something you might also overhear. (Resist the temptation to fall in line to absorb these pearls of wisdom; that constitutes “public nuisance”.) Pseudo-professional phrases like “modus operandi” and “functioning enabler” are scattered liberally throughout these conversations, usually in the wrong place or context, which is always good for a laugh.
The funniest halfalogue I’ve heard in recent years was when walking behind (but not in a public nuisance kind of way) a young hipster dude. He sounded very angry and normally I might have hung back, but he was forcefully lamenting the fact that, while waiting for a train, he had plugged his dying cell phone into an outlet on the platform only to find himself arrested for theft! His slightly justified outrage was hilarious, and I eventually had to retreat for fear of snorting out loud.
And once in a while you get absolute gifts like these from the old Overheard in Chicago blog:
“And now my underwear smells like Drano.” (Seriously, we should run a competition for the best short story leading up to this quote.)
Or this conversation overheard at DePaul University:
Guy – “Why are girls so dumb?”
Girl – “It’s not that we’re dumb. It’s that we have to pander to the lowest common denominator.”
Guy – “Who’s that?”
You couldn’t make them up!
Do you have any good zingers you’ve overheard?