Calling All Eavesdroppers

I want someone to listen to our conversation.

Who hasn’t thought this?

Say you find yourself in a situation—maybe at a restaurant, one of those shiny-shoes ones—where you’re just aching to be an eavesdroppee, but no one at the tables around you seems interested in your conversation about Sorry! strategies.

What do you do?

You might be tempted to force the issue. Escalate.

Maybe you don’t want to reveal how upset you were at Sonic and the Black Knight while eating dessert, though. Hmm.

Hey. Don’t worry. This is totally no problem. The key here is to introduce an enticing new conversation that seems normal.

Below are some tried-and-true fake conversation starters (and usage tips) that, if done correctly, will have you owning every ear in the room within seconds. Once you own those ears, what will you do with them? Plan wisely. Be a benevolent ear-king.

Note: The following scenarios are intended for at least two participants. Any attempt to try these by yourself will probably still get you some onlookers, but you’d also lose some of the subtlety.

I have so many phobias.

Not as many as I do. I’m like a walking [bundle of] fear.

I recommend using just “I’m like a walking fear” here—anyone simply reading a transcript of your conversation will probably see “walking bear” (they don’t matter), but it will confuse most listeners’ ear-brain-systems enough to virtually force eavesdropping. Phobias are also a hit in restaurant discussions in general, so make sure you both have lists of a few things that seem reasonable. (A few starter items include cardboard, newts, Devonshire, aspartame, The Education System, and buttresses.)

…She said I was a witch.

Eva? She’s always calling people witches.

She shakes her fist so angrily, though.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.

Maybe it wasn’t Eva?

Where was this?

Don’t be tempted to devolve at this point. A “who are you?” may be humorous as a realistic conversationally-aware aside here, but stay on track, Jack. A recommended follow-up approach is to (1) masterfully acknowledge the misunderstanding, (2) casually continue to chat about Eva, and (3) painstakingly detail every way in which you are not a witch, using Jadis as your only reference.

I can see the card in your sleeve.

It’s for later. How’d you know?

I saw when you were getting out of the shower.

Bring actual cards for this one in case anyone challenges you. Leg o’mutton sleeves are especially useful here.

We need more chalk.

For the sidewalk? It’s been like five days.

Never do this one around children, even tiny babies. Children always carry chalk and will happily offer to trade it for overalls or something.

I can’t tune anything anymore.

Give it time.

It’s not about time, it’s about the spark! It’s gone! Gone, I say!

Don’t say that! Why don’t you practice on your Minimoog when we get home?

This is a classic opening gambit. It helps if the initial speaker knows something about playing an instrument, but it’s not hard to make up a story about how to tune any item, really. Do not turn this into a joke about tuna fish unless you actually ordered the tuna carpaccio.

I just…I see them as wasteful.

They probably are.

But they bring joy, right?

Look, this one’s about stickers. You can either pull it off or you can’t.