We’ve talked about how, as writers,  little things about language delight us. A neat turn of phrase, an impressive and correct use of a big word, it makes our day when we hear these. These things are keen to us because we  are always listening as writers. We take note of the way language forms and changes in the various settings where our lives take place. I particularly love riding the train and listening to snippets of other people’s conversations.

Writers who are looking for new material are professional eavesdroppers. We always have an ear open to listen to how people say things. Let me list some of my favorites. These are all true and collected during my time riding the train. Writer’s Warning: Some of the content is racy!

“Baby, I’m huge.” This came from a high schooler trying to pickup a girl. He said it on an evening train heading out of the city, packed full of people. Several heads turned at his proclamation, some towards his crotch.

“That ain’t what Tina said.” The girl, who was also in high school, snickered at the boy’s claim. It was clear she had inside information and was quick to to cut him down in front of everyone.

“…man, f–k Tina.” This was the boy’s response, it was mumbled in defeat and embarrassment.  But if some woman called me out on a crowded train I’d be embarrassed too.

“Naw girl, I’m strictly dickly.  I don’t play that lesbian s–t.” This was a girl’s response to her friend’s accusation about her kissing another girl. In this day and age, one would think that kissing someone of the same sex wouldn’t be that big a deal. However, in some sub-cultures, like ethnic high schools, it still is. This is one of my favorites because of her use of the phrase “strictly dickly.” I like it because without ever hearing it before, I knew exactly what she meant. That is the humorous turn of phrase that we writers appreciate.

“Today is a naked day! Wednesday Naked Day! It’s so hot I can’t wait to get home and just strip!” I heard this on a particularly hot August afternoon. It was said by a woman speaking into her cell phone, to whom, I can only guess.

She was was sitting across from me in a tank top and jean capri pants. She had deep mahogany skin, light eyes and was rather curvy. Suffice to say, every time it gets hot, like sweaty, sticky hot, I think of her and her naked day.

“God, I can’t stand people! They’re sooo stupid! OK, I have to go, love you!” This was said by a teenager, who was complaining to her friend right as the train pulled into her stop. I love the inherent irony in her statement, how can you not stand people, but love your friend? I had to laugh and shake my head at that. The girls may have heard me.

Sometimes it’s just fun to listen to the conversations of others. Try it and see what you hear.

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