Chicago River Walk, by Karen Craven
Journey Men Motherhood Yoga

Eavesdropping without accident

Within minutes I thought these men could be women. I never heard men talk about the same things as women do.

I named my blog because of Shannon’s Pub in Glen Ellyn.

On Wednesday nights, the first summer as a single person once again after 15 years, and the first summer without Bridget on Wednesday nights, I found myself at Shannon’s after I practiced yoga. I rarely ventured from the fish and chips. I quickly dropped the chips in favor of the salad and downsized from the dinner to the sandwich portion, less the bun. I liked the routine. I like the comfort of knowing I can go there alone. I liked that my review on Yelp yields me a rebate. I like my table for one.

Tonight was no different. I had today off because I had to recover from yesterday. For the last three years, I take Bridget and two of her friends to Six Flags Great America for the day. It’s her birthday present. Last year, when money was tighter, my sister and brother in law generously made it possible. I’m still the mom and chaperone, popping Dramamine throughout the day so I can traverse upside down and right side up and left side right roller coasters. We purchase FAST passes and frenetically go from one ride to the next. We strategize how to minimize travel times between rides.  It’s a full day. While yesterday did not equate to the epic performance of last year (26 rides in 11 hours), the day came in six rides shy of a tie.

When it came time to spend my Wednesday night alone, I knew where I wanted to be. I walked into Shannon’s tonight craving my Table for One. For the first time in a long time, I was able to make the yin class at Essencia. My friend went with me. I dropped her off, ran home and let the dogs out, and then headed to Shannon’s. I got to take in two of my favorite things for the first time in a long time. When I asked for a Table for One, the host quickly nodded, as he anticipated it, then brought me back to the patio where I found a table for two waiting for me.

He pulled out one of the chairs for me, steadied the table and made sure it wasn’t wobbly and then wished me well. As he seated me, we walked by a table of four gentlemen seated at the center of the patio. They were within clear earshot. So close,  I nearly joined the conversation. Within minutes I was in full eavesdropping mode, using my book as cover. The men could be women. I never heard men talk about the same things as women. When my ears joined the discussion, it was led by one man, who sat closest to me. I coined him the leader of the pack, as he appeared to be the alpha. He spoke about Whistler, Canada and how he and his wife went there on their honeymoon. I learned he generously gave in to flying there, because “marriage is all about compromise”. As he went on about his travels there, one of his fellow ladies, asked, as if insulted that she didn’t know, “I don’t remember you going to Whistler?” he responded, “Of course you do! It was in 2005 after I married Christie.” The lady made some noises connoting the recollection.

This went on, and on. My ears pricked at their tribulations over marriage, travel, teaching, and students. They discussed teaching and learning benchmarks, the joke of tenure, and a public official’s $50+ million fraud scheme and embezzlement in Dixon, Illinois. The Dixon storyteller wowed the group with her knowledge that Ronald Reagan was born there, and proceeded to display a lackluster knowledge of Illinois Geography.

Ms. Dixon appeared to be the only one not married, evidenced by the rest of the ladies lighting up with excitement over his upcoming date in Harvard, IL. I know there was something exciting, and the group agreed it was a good sign, but the murder in my book distracted me from the details.

Overall, I was amused by the conversation. The four gentlemen’s exchange was surprisingly similar to one I had over dinner Saturday with a girlfriend. It was a near match to the countless convos with my yoga pals on Friday mornings. It was pretty stinking close to the conversation I had with my co-workers Monday at lunch.  But all of those, at least 99% of them, were with women.

Tonight was a moment of enlightenment for me. Men do not talk solely about sports or nonsense. They talk about their careers, their challenges, their students, their job security, their frustrations, their hopes, their wives, and their prospective girlfriends. They talk about current events, and once everyone is in agreement on a topic, not unlike women they work to qualify their knowledge. They have leaders and followers, and some followers who try to usurp the leader’s role.

Men are surprisingly similar to women.

I tried hard to read my book, sometimes reading a page two and three times over when my attention was diverted to the male ladies group. I wanted to chew the fat with them, but eventually, I paid the check, folded the page corner inside my book, returned my chair to its perch halfway under my table for one, its table for two, and I smiled. I grinned sincerely and purposefully as I walked away from the table of four. Tonight, I feel a bit enlightened, and certainly smarter because I opened my ears, and gladly eavesdropped.

Men and women, we are so different and yet so alike. It’s just another example, that gender, nor ethnicity, or race differentiates us, as humans we are all curious conversationalists. At the end of the day, we all like a good gab, or in my case just listening to one.

7 comments on “Eavesdropping without accident

  1. What a golden opportunity you had, Karen. You were the proverbial fly on the wall! I’ve always said I’d love to have that opportunity… 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To observe is what us writers do. To be a writer is to be able to hide in plain sight, and to fill the gaps with knowledge. And besides, being a writer means we’re not nosy . . we are simply intellectually observant!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I believe it is true that men and women have so many similarities. After all, we are human, right? I’m also glad each of us is created as different and individual, or the world would be really dull. I wonder how the future will change as robotics become more conversational? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, life would be dull if we were all the same. Just watched Wall E with my nieces and cousins kids. And I hope that the world with AI and robots includes Wall E’s and Evas. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

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