Conversation editing

life

I don't want to give the impression that I make a habit of eavesdropping on other people's conversations, but there are a few people whose loud conversations in quiet places make me want to get out a red editorial pencil and make lots of those proof-reading deletion marks. I'm no Dorothy Parker, but I try to keep my mouth shut if I've got nothing interesting to say (obviously, my blog is exempt from this rule, and I blether on about all kinds of nonsense). However, I've noticed a tendency for some people to report very dull events in excruciating detail.

I had the dubious pleasure of overhearing a conversation like this on the train. The events in question could have been summed up as follows: "My washing machine broke down at the weekend, so I phoned my Mum and she offered to wash my laundry for me." A fairly straightforward story, you might think. But no, in the mouth of a 'conversation extender' it can be made to last for at least 15 minutes1 by relating every word of the conversation in real time. "So I said, 'Really?', and she said, 'Yeah', and I said, 'OK then'...". In other words, it was the three-hour Director's Cut of the event.

As I got up to get off I couldn't resist sneaking a look at her (suspiciously quiet) interlocutor, to see if she had literally died of boredom. She hadn't, but she did have a distinctly glazed look about her.

1 She was still going as I got off the train, so it could have been a lot longer for all I know.

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