Eavesdropping for fun torture and profit

By Mir
January 18, 2006

I ran here and there today in spite of a haunting case of deja vu wherein I felt “a little odd” and thought to take my temperature just for kicks. Oh! 101! Nice! Thank goodness for the antibiotics! Not only are they eating away the tender lining of my digestive tract, but they’re also doing that whole “release all the toxins and make you feel worse before you feel better” thing. Super.

[Yes, Mom, I’m eating yogurt and taking acidopholus. It’s very soothing as it leaks through the holes in my stomach and intestines and comes to gentle, strawberry-flavored rest on my pancreas and liver. It’s ulcery delicious!]

Anyway, blah blah blah boob blah blah sick blah blah blah. Now, let us never speak of it again. Until the next time.

The first stop this morning was to take Chickadee to therapy. After I had my turn with her therapist, she headed in with nary a backward glance, and I went out to sit in the waiting room. Ordinarily an early-morning appointment like that will give me the entire waiting area to myself, which I enjoy. You can’t have too much peace and quiet when it comes to playing Bejeweled on your handheld, after all.

Today I was not so lucky. I sat down across from an ordinary-looking couple. They were middle-aged, overweight, and fidgeting in the industrial chairs as if they were itchy. The husband pretended to be engrossed in a magazine, and the wife sat next to him and occupied herself with attempting to burn him to a crispy cinder using only her death glare. I tried not to look at them but found myself sneaking glances. Their conversation proceeded thusly:

Her: You know what I have to do at work today? I’ve got to finish the budgets, plus I have to get all my evaluations done.
Him: *never lifting his eyes, clearly not hearing a word* Yeah.
Her: I thought I had until Friday, you know? But then my boss said no, he wants them TODAY. Jesus. Don’t tell me YOU’RE busy at work!! I’ll be up til MIDNIGHT!

[I was cringing in my seat, readying myself to flee from the nails that were surely being spit out of her mouth, but her husband didn’t seem to notice at all.]

Him: Mmmmhmmmm.

[I kept my eyes on my game, but could feel the wife looking to me for support. Could she sense me mentally donning the Cone of Silence? I’m in the Cone, lady. Go back to berating your husband. I’m not even here.]

Her: Did you give Morgan apricots?
Him: Mmmmhmmmm.
Her: Did you HEAR me? DID you give Morgan apricots? She doesn’t like them!

[Triumph! She had him now! Dude, you made the apricots error!]

Him: She asked for them.
Her: Well YES, she asks for them, and then she gives them to Amber!
Him: Oh.
Her: Right! Oh!

[At this point I began to hope that they were here for marriage counselling. Or execution. Either way. And preferably SOON.]

Her: You KNOW, you totally screwed up all my speed dials when you reprogrammed my phone.
Him: Mmmmmhmmmm.

[Now I’m thinking I may not be the only person in the room utilizing a Cone, y’know?]

Her: It’s COMPLETELY screwed up! I don’t have home on speed dial anymore! I have to TYPE IT IN.
Him: *looking up for the first time* How come?
Her: *huge disgusted sigh* Because you SCREWED IT UP.
Him: Oh. Okay, gimme your phone.
Her: Are you going to FIX IT?

[Me, to myself: No, I think he’s going to club you to death with it. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.]

Him: Sure. It’s not hard to fix.
Her: Well then you SHOULD.
Him: I will. Gimme your phone.
Her: You screwed it all up.
Him: Give it to me.
Her: *finally digging the phone out of her purse and handing it over* I have to type in all the numbers!
Him: Well what number would you like your home speed dial set to?
Her: I don’t care. Whatever.
Him: … how about 6?
Her: No, I have the insurance company on 6.
Him: You need the insurance company on speed dial?
Her: Yes. I call them a lot.

[What for? To report that you’ve accidentally run over your husband’s self-esteem with the car again?]

Him: Uhhhh. Okay. How about 4?
Her: That’s fine.
Him: Okay, all fixed. Do you want MY number on speed dial?
Her: I guess.
Him: Office or cell?
Her: I don’t know. Why are you asking me?

[Oh! I know! Because if he doesn’t, you’ll rip his nads off later for daring to make a decision without consulting you?]

Him: I can do both.
Her: Just don’t overwrite the one for the insurance company.
Him: Okay. All done. *he went back to his magazine, she put her phone away, and there was silence for about 15 seconds*
Her: I can’t BELIEVE you gave Morgan apricots.
Him: Mmmmmhmmmmm.

Then I picked up my chair and brained them both. Okay, I just fantasized about it. And then Chickadee came out and I took her to school and spent the entire drive feeling extraordinarily well-adjusted. Because no matter how crazy you are, there’s always someone else taking crazy to new heights. Usually right there in the waiting room, where you can’t get away from them.

Inbetween appointments, later on, I stopped at my favorite thrift store. I listened to a mother and her tweenage daughter argue over a pair of boots. They were Kamiks, and in great shape. Very suitable New England winter boots (today’s 55 degrees and gale force winds aside). From what little I was able to gather, the daughter agreed to wear the boots, but only if she could forego socks. The mother was apoplectic at this suggestion. So they proceeded to hash out the matter in the middle of the Salvation Army, because it certainly wouldn’t have made any sense to just buy the boots and deal with it at home. What with the $60 boots being marked $4 and all. No. It had to be settled RIGHT THEN.

But what do I know? I purchased a luxurious snowsuit perfect for running the snowblower or being spotted from outer space. It’s a lovely shade of… heon porange. That’s what happens when hot pink and neon orange mate. It’s rather horrifying, but SO WARM. And $4. I promise not to wear it out of the driveway. Also to be mortified, even IN the driveway. Shut up.

After an all-too-brief rest at home with my advil and my heating pad and my pervasive death wish, it was off again, this time to fetch the children and take Chickadee to her very first Tae Kwon Do class. You do remember when we realized Chickadee was destined for a career in martial arts, right? The right opportunity finally came along. In fact, it came right into her school, in the form of an after-school program with a ridiculously low fee to basically let kids do a crash course, get hooked, and then go pay the regular rates at the studio. I’m okay with that.

Parents were encouraged to stay for the first session, and we huddled along the periphery of the gymnasium, trying to corrale bored younger siblings, watching as the… uhhh… head guy? Master? started whipping our offspring into shape.

[A pause here to note that the Master was maybe five feet tall, and I had not a moment’s doubt that he could kick the ass of anyone twice his size. The kids took to him immediately and his teaching style was very engaging. Big thumbs up for him.]

I want to kiss Tae Kwon Do on the lips and whisper dirty things in its ear and let it unbutton my blouse. Know why? Tae Kwon Do is about respect. Respect for yourself, your family, your teachers. Focus your eyes, focus your ears, focus your mind, etc. First homework assignment? Respond to requests from your elders with “Yes sir!” and “Yes ma’am!” as appropriate. This is their homework. To be polite and respectful. If this becomes a way of life for my child? I will totally let Tae Kwon Do have its way with me. Oh yes I will.

There is NOTHING more beautiful than a room full of 7- to 10-year-olds in straight lines chanting “YES SIR!”

And since I’m pretty sure the Army won’t take her, it’s Tae Kwon Do all the way for us. Yes sir! Yes ma’am! Just let’s keep all cell phones away from her until she’s totally absorbed that whole respect thing. Okay. Or, you know, YES MA’AM. Very nice.


  1. Andie D.

    There is simply nothing like another person’s version of nuts to make you feel sane. I think that I used to hang out with certain friends because they were so off the rocker that by default, I was the “normal” one.

    Ha! Look at me now!

  2. Sarcastic Journalist

    Everytime I used to leave my therapist, I secretly judged the people waiting in line behind me.

  3. buffi

    I have had a new view of crazy practically right here in my own home. Things are wild. And as screwed up as I thought my marriage might be, I have a front row seat for “how to end your marriage with maximum damage.” It’s been very validating…for me at least!

  4. Kris

    We’re in TKD and I’m telling you it can be a real PITA with the driving of the back and forth and watnot, but it really is doing Kasha some good. And she’s AWESOME AT IT!!

    We’re both red belt Level 2, with less than a year to go to blackbelt. And if I can do TKD, anyone can.

    It really is a lot of fun, and serves a purpose. Board breaking is just an esteem builder really, but it’s still a lot of fun to do.

  5. Cele

    I always was taught being unique and different was the best way to be. But there are some darn strange people walking this planet.

    A girl at work (whom I really like when she doesn’t talk) is a chaos magnet. Her life is sheer chaos – never ending chaos during the four or five years I’ve known her. Her life is pure disaster – and with all the stress in her life you would think she’d be a blimp – Oh no, she quits eating and is size toothpick. We held an intervention and made her eat a sandwich. She has one food group – chocolate.

  6. ben

    Damn, I’m pretty sure I strained something running to the phone to call the local Martial Arts place.

    I’m signing everybody up. My wife, too.

    Apricots, my ass.

  7. wayward goddess

    We do Kenpo karate here. i’m a red belt and my 11 yr old son got his black belt in Oct. We love it.

  8. Ei

    We just started TKD too…and I had the exact same reaction. Of course Master TKD in our class is the one to whom I’d like to whisper dirty things…but I digress.

    Good for Chickadee. I hope she enjoys her class.

  9. Theresa

    Good grief! I was ready to bash them both with the chair 10 seconds into it!

    I might have to look into some TKD for the twins…

  10. Latte Man

    Now whenever Chickadee has one of her meltdowns, you can simply ask, “What would Sensei think of the way you are behaving?”

    You got me wondering however, who that man was with my wife in the therapists office. ;)

  11. Zuska

    I’m guessin’ Number 6 is her cabana boy, not her insurance company. Can you please just hang out in doctors offices for a little while longer? Your experiences there are priceless.

    Funny enough, Curly Girl has asked to get back into TKD and spent last night waltzing around in a hand-me-down TKD outfit. Now that you’ve reminded me of the whole “respect” mantra, I’m going to call the TKD center RIGHT NOW.

  12. Mit_Moi

    I love. LOVE. other people’s mental illness. It’s so much more entertaining than viewing my own menatl illness.

    I could so identify with your “cone of silence” wall. Thank you for being such a good reporter! Please keep going back! (For more scoop, not because I’m suggesting Chickadee needs lots of help.)

  13. Nothing But Bonfires

    Or move to the South! All the little children say “yes sir!” and “yes ma’am!” and they STILL say it when they’re not little children anymore but people working in the same office as you. Nothing like that to make you feel important.

    Also, I think the Therapy Couple were in the breakfast room of my hotel in Paris in 2001. The husband has that sort of cowering thing going on in his eyes, right? And the wife is LOUD?

  14. ben


    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with your boob! In fact, feels pretty damn good, if you ask me.

    Oh, wait, you say it’s your other side?

    never mind, then.

  15. dawn

    I have only one question. Why hasn’t that man done himself in yet? I was writhing in agony and I only read about that woman for 3 seconds. How on earth does he not go completely doolally?

  16. Amy-GO

    I LOVE yes ma’am and sir and insist on their use. Somehow whining is more tolerable with a yes ma’am or two thrown in. You’ll love it!

  17. mom on a wire

    I bet that waiting room husband would LOVE to get his wife in a partners TKD class. “What’s that honey? Apricots?” BLAMMO! “Oh, sorry, I misjudged that kick. Hmm? Your phone?” WHACKITY WHACK! “Whoops! Heh, maybe I should get my eyes checked. Look at that shiner I gave you! *chuckle chuckle*”

  18. liltater

    Hi, long time lurker, but this sorta stuff brings me out of the woodwork. I’m a 3rd degree Black Belt instructor in TKD, and I have seen it do EXCELLENT things for kids. (It also helps when they’re told if they use any of this stuff OUTSIDE of class, or are found being repeatedly disrespectful, they won’t be allowed back in.) ;)

    Hope Chickadee loves it. It’s truly a lifetime activity. (My mother got her Black Belt years after I did, at the young age of 51. As an instructor, I got to present her belt to her. BE WARNED! This could happen to you!)

    Love reading. Thanks for the daily laughs.

  19. Fraulein N

    Your running mental commentary on the couple in the therapist’s office was, of course, hilarious. Also, “heon porange.” Heeee.

  20. ben

    As luck would have it, just yesterday after work I was presented with a pretty blue piece of paper, inviting my kids to join a TKD class.

    The cool thing? It’s AT SCHOOL, there’s a huge discount, it’s once a week (to see if they like it before getting more “serious” about it) and I met with the owner / head instructor and he seems like a great guy.

    I can’t wait, we start in a couple weeks.

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