I have a confession to make.
I, BreezyK, am a serial eavesdropper.
While some might consider this behavior rude, sneaky, or generally unbecoming, I prefer to think of myself as suffering from a rare form of chronic, insatiable curiosity. Eavesdropping, as it happens, is the only known cure.
Fortunately for me, a big city like Toronto is an eavesdropper’s paradise. Every subway ride, every elevator journey, every meal at a shoebox-sized hipster restaurant is a new listening adventure. While most of what I overhear is banal – mundane recounts of traffic, gym sessions, and other hallmarks of everyday urban life- every so often, I catch a moment of greatness. A bit of salacious gossip, a funny anecdote, or some downright bizarre sh*t that can keep me going for days. (Or, let’s be honest- at least 20 minutes).
My eavesdropping habit is further magnified by the fact that I live in a high-rise condo building, filled with hundreds of other tenants from all walks of life. While it’s rare that I actually speak to any them, I spend a lot of time observing my neighbours in elevators, hallways and other communal areas; slowly piecing together my own running narratives about their respective lives.
- There’s Mrs. Yang, the elderly Chinese lady who only ever wears three pairs of pajamas (all at once) and I’m convinced is actually a Russian Spy concealing weapons;
- “Speedo Guy”, a portly, middle-aged Eastern European man who insists on blessing our building’s communal sauna with his commanding presence, spray-tan and perpetually hard-working piece of nylon;
…….and, of course
- “Shortie Superman”- the muscled, 5’6, Dean-Cain looking dude from my condo gym who I’ve been waging a cold war with for the past few months now. He never smiles, hogs the freestanding bench, and holds the TV remote hostage, insisting on playing terrible, testosterone infused programs for the duration of my workout. (I mean, does he not KNOW 7pm is my Real Housewives of Atlanta hour??)
- Needless to say, I’ve determined that he is a miserable, vengeful asshole who abstains from alcohol and eats only spinach.
Anyhow. While some of these characters I know I’ve got dead on (Speedo Guy for SURE loves European disco music), I worry I’ve rendered others too fanciful (I mean, maybe Mrs. Yang just likes layers?).
As you can see, some surreptitious eavesdropping is often necessary to fill in the gaps.
So, you can imagine my delight when recently, I hit the eavesdropping goldmine. It was around 9pm, and I had just returned home from a work event. Exhausted and slightly woozy from the firm-sponsored chardonnay, I opened my balcony door to get some fresh air. I was putting together my compulsory two-advil and a tall glass of water nightcap when I heard the unmistakable sound of tortured, emotional voices coming from the balcony of the apartment down the hall.
I immediately rushed to the door to get a better listen:
“I’m just, so confused” said a frustrated male voice, “I thought you wanted to be in a relationship”
“I did! I mean, I thought I did” replied an apologetic female voice. “I guess I’m just not ready.”
“But you said you were ready”, he responded “You said I was the one!”.
“I’m just trying to be real with you”, she replied “there are just so many things I want to accomplish”
“Like what?” he asked
“Like, I don’t know… travelling? And like, working on my music?”
“Oh, you mean your laptop DJ gig?” he countered
I stole a quick peek outside, and spotted a distressed-looking dude, holding an iphone at a distance.
This sh*t was going down on speakerphone??
…But something about the compact, glossy haired figure looked familiar, so I edged out a little further, and confirmed my suspicions. The dumpee was none other than…………. Shortie Superman himself!!!
I realized that in all of our passive-agressive gym battles, I’d never actually spoken to the guy. But now here I was -listening to one of his most intimate and painful conversations. And I felt kind of bad about it.
…. but bad enough to stop?
Plus, all those hours of Man vs. Food he made me endure? This dude had it coming.
As I listened to each argument and counterargument unfold (“But I took you to meet my parents!”/”I love you, I’m just not IN love with you”), I realized that every breakup sounds vaguely the same.
One party is all:
While the other’s like:
And in spite of myself, I started to feel a little bad for the guy. With every blow she delivered (“You’re gonna find someone great!/Let’s still be friends!”) he seemed less like the evil caricature I created, and more like a real-life human being.
Because let’s be honest- we’ve all been there. And that, my friends, is a deep dark place.
So maybe next time I see him, I’ll take it easy on the cut-eye and let him watch Swamp People unperturbed. Because God knows, dude could use a break.
Question of the Day: Are you an eavesdropper? Overheard anything good lately?
P.S. I changed my blog name and layout. Figured The Ol’ Camel was due for an upgrade. Hope you dig it!