Check Yourself

September 30th

I was having lunch today at one of my favorite weekend haunts when I noticed a woman approach a nearby table. The cafe was busy; I’d waited several minutes for a two-top, where I sat reading and occasionally glancing up at the odd variety of Tempe folk who come and go from the accompanying bookstore.
I thought I recognized this woman, so I looked at her intently, trying to place her. Although their table was quite a bit away from mine, and the cafe was humming along with lunch traffic, I could hear her introduce herself to the pair she was joining for lunch. Immediately after shaking their hands and apologizing for being late, she began a 45-minute conversation about her health history, including her mastectomy and gynecological issues. She did all of this, in what my mother would say, in an “outdoor voice.” Loudly and inappropriately, everyone having lunch learned the sordid details of her life.
Of course, as much as my faced burned with annoyance and frustration at hearing such personal details from a complete stranger, I couldn’t for the life of me focus on my book. It seemed her dramatic words danced their way to my table, polkaing and eventually moshing their way to my attention. Fed up, I quickly finished my lunch and left, wondering who in the world this couple could be and why in the world they could possibly want to sit and listen to this nut and her lists if issues — including having “bad energy.”
The scene reminded me of the time I was on a date with a cute OBGYN when I made the mistake of asking him how his day went, just as the appetizer was served. We were eating at a busy Italian restaurant in Phoenix during the dinner rush. Like a scene from a movie, he began talking about ovarian cysts in voz alto when management lowered the music, sending his words crashing into the diners around us. With the same wonderment I fought today, couples cast odd glances our direction as he laughed as his gaffe. I stared down at the antipasto, deciding in that moment that OBGYNs and prosciutto should never mix.


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12 Responses

  1. One time a gynecologist told me she could never be a dentist, putting her hands in people’s mouths all the time.

  2. I am ROFLMAO at Ruth’s comment!

    There may have been a good reason the couple was there to talk to her but the WHOLE restaurant need not hear her medical issues. Some people need for the world to know. Maybe she thought she was *helping*?

    Bravo to you for even having a date with an OBGYN! *clap, clap* (no pun intended). I don’t think I could have!! I am surprised he didn’t downplay his day.

  3. I take the bus every day to and back from work, and I can tell you, I hear all kind of stories, I try to focus on my book, but it’s quite impossible, no one seems to care that anyone on the bus can listen to their most intimate stories!

  4. The same sort of disregard for others occurs as soon as a cell phone appears in someone’s hands in public. Then you get to hear all the intimate details of their latest breakup, their horrible job, and so on. I wonder if people who behave this way are at all cognizent of the technical functionality of a cell phone–do they think they’re dealing with cans on the ends of strings through which we had to shout when we were children?

  5. One day as I sat by an open window I heard my mail lady on her cell phone loudly discussing the path by which she had caught an STD. Eww….definitely something else which should NEVER be discussed in public!

  6. I agree with June… if people feel the NEED to yap on their cell phones constantly (instead of enjoying the few minutes of peace on the commuter rail ride home) do they really need to speak so loud? There really is bad energy associated with those loud conversations – I find myself getting very angry is someone is so loud that I can’t concentrate on my book (and I’m hard of hearing, too!). Grrrr…

    Ah, well…

  7. Omigosh, that reminds me of the Frasier episode when he introduced Roz to this cute, wealthy, eligible bachelor–who happened to be a GYN. NO ONE wanted to go out with him. lol As a nurse, I sometimes forget my work life doesn’t make good dinner conversation at home. DH and DD have to remind me, though I don’t talk about it at restaurants, nor do I talk loudly. Maybe the other couple were in the medical field and absolutely fascinated by this woman’s story, but a diner is not the place to share it.

  8. Amen to all comments. (Loved Ruth’s – excuse me? *mouths* are icky??) TH is a nurse, and also loves those medical-reality shows on tv. I don’t mind conversations (mostly) but I draw the line at watching while I’m snacking.

    The problem with cell phones is you can’t hear yourself in them, like you can in landlines. Thus, the perceived need to shout. Either that, or we live in a culture of voyeurs and exhibitionists, and cell phones fit nicely into those tendencies. I also ride public transportation and seem to attract these people like a magnet. One of these days I’ll insert myself in the conversation just to see what happens. Maybe.

  9. Yeah, I think those people on the train secretly think their lives are just SO FASCINATING we’re all really interested in what they have to say. Sometimes you’ll see them look around to check the audience reaction. But I never thought of the ‘no-feedback’ point Jennifer made.

    I once went out with a guy, and when he said he was a gynocologist I decided we would just be friends. Then he said it was with a focus on geruntology, and I don’t know whether that made it better or worse.

  10. We have a mandatory training at work called “Keeping it Legal”. One of the topics discussed covers conversations between co-workers and when the line is crossed. One of the rules to abide by, to keep one from crossing the line, is to keep grody subjects like details from the OBGYN to yourself unless the person you’re talking to is a good friend. And a good friend = someone who has been to your house.

    I seriously doubt that everyone in that restaurant has been to this woman’s house.

    So, she is officially grody and is not Keeping it Legal. FIRED.