Eavesdropping in the Pfister

I am sitting in Blu by myself so that no one will distract me as I eavesdrop in on the conversations. Some old ladies are giggling about martinis. An old man is taking all the plush chairs away from my table to build a nest for all his companions. One of them asks, decease “How was the wedding?” to another. She replies, “It was long. I never was to a Catholic wedding before. The organist played six or seven songs. I kept thinking ‘this is not over yet?’ It was so standard, the vows were by the book. And they do all the kneeling. The congregation must have kneeled three or four times. I grew up Lutheran, decease we get it over with. That’s more my kind of wedding, twenty minutes, BOOM, out.”

 

In the café I overhear two concerned mothers complaining about middle school girls trying to get the attention of clueless pre-pubescent middle school boys. “Sports bra, cheap that’s what she’s walking around in. What mother let’s their daughter out of the house like that? Unless she’s stupid, but regardless, they’re all together, they’re all close, they’ve been close since day one, since middle school, they are what they are. The one girl who’s taking up with them, she came over in one of those dresses that was up to her hootchy-hooch.”

 

In the café I also listen to two men discussing HSP, but since I don’t know what HSP is, I have no idea what it is that they are going on about, but it sounds atrociously banal.

 

Outside the ballroom I catch the following snippet from the National Philanthropy Day festivities. The trained voice of a news anchor from channel twelve proclaims, “She has been a sparkplug for a lot of philanthropy initiatives.” What high automobilic praise! Later I learn that Milwaukee’s National Philanthropic Day commands a larger attendance than even New York City’s. “That’s just what kind we are here,” the Milwaukee Philanthropist Day organizer boasts to a bellhop in the lobby.

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I enter the lobby lounge and am delighted to see my chum Jenna Kashou at the bar. Do you remember her? She was the Narrator about two years ago. I go up to say hey Jenna, but she is leaning her whole body into conversation about a corporate sponsorship brochure for the Black and Blue Ball, a benefit for Muscular Dystrophy. Jenna’s hands are zipping every which way. I take a seat on the sofa next to the fireplace. I never noticed before how inside the fireplace there is a motif of a racing chariot. A chariot of fire! I pick up the newspaper someone left on the couch. It says something about “Drones For The Masses.” Listening in on other people’s conversations is about to get a lot more high-tech.

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25 Pedestrians of Milwaukee on a Friday at 4:30p.m.

On the twenty-third floor I go to the windows to learn about the pedestrians of Milwaukee.

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  1. A man is just off work from a job where they blast air conditioning, sick see his long sleeves? This man is free now but carries the burden of his day and his backpack as he wonders what lies underneath the manhole cover.

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  1. A car pulling into a parking garage politely avoids the fellow carrying a big soda.  Mr. Big Soda knows that though this particular car is polite, other cars might not be, so he must not sip his soda (no matter how massive it is!) until he is safely past the driveway entrance.

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  1. No hands.

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  1. Three friends all wearing plaid, blue jeans and backpacks. Very close friends. They also all appear to be very close in height and age.

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  1. Jogging man imagines he is Hermes with winged ankles, running through the Grecian skies with a news report for Zeus.

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  1. Woman just making sure the whole present is still in there. It would be terrible if she had forgotten part of it on the store counter when she bought all those rolls of tape.

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  1. He walks and texts, ignoring the sea of cement all around him.

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  1. A man jaywalks as bold and sure as the stripes on his shirt.

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  1. She walks so quickly she is almost out of the frame by the time my camera clicks.

DSCN588310. This woman has a water bottle that is so beautiful (of amber hue, with flower motif) that she carries it facing the hotel in the hope that the Pfister narrator will see it and extol its marvelous grace. Oh! And how I gasp!

DSCN588411. He thinks he can hide behind the “No Parking” sign, but he doesn’t know we can see his reflection in the window. Heh heh heh.

DSCN588812.  These two people don’t know each other, lead different lives and even walk in opposite directions in this realm, but in the land of the shadows they face the same way.

DSCN5889 13.  This guy has style.

DSCN589014.  This guy has an itch above his right ear.

DSCN589615.  I see so many people rolling luggage, carrying backpacks and bags downtown it appears as though there is a great migration taking place.

DSCN589916.  He doesn’t stop though he does consider the parking meter’s stasis.

DSCN590117.   Man clambers upon the motorcycle for a few thrilling moments and then gets off again. Its not his motorcycle.

DSCN590918.  Stylish bow tie fellow locks gaze with another man, as if to say, “You stay in the street. This curb belongs to me.”

DSCN591019.   Nice shoes, sir.

DSCN591420.  This guy knows that contrary to what the sign says, there is more than one way.

DSCN591621.  There goes number 21 and her green cell phone. It is amazing that I can see that she has a green phone all the way from the 23rd floor.

DSCN591722.  Woman has animated conversation with parked vehicle.

DSCN592023.  Everyone on this corner seems eager to leave it.

DSCN5927 24. This man takes wide strides as he walks.

 DSCN583825. Four people stop in the lot to pet this car. Good car, good.

The Walls Did Talk

People watching is a skill. If you’re good at it (and I really want to believe I am) you can master blending in, even if you’re taking notes and keeping your eyes up, about and above your coffee. People often sit, trying to go unnoticed, and to do so, they revert to the childhood understanding that if “I can’t see you, you can’t see me” and bury themselves in their work, their food, their drink, their smart phone or even clean out the contents of their purse with such dedication you might wonder if they’d even notice a fire alarm.

Not me.

I keep eyes up. I don’t face front, I face all directions and turn frequently. I suspect people are wondering about me the same things I’m wondering (and writing down) about them, but after awhile, much like the cameras on Big Brother or any other mess of a reality program, they forget I’m there.

As your Narrator, I’ve had the great pleasure of being forgotten frequently. That’s when the magic happens. Once I’ve disappeared right next to someone, I’ve heard all versions of amazing, hilarious, sad and complimentary kinds of conversation.

The wisdom I’ve gained from this is important to us all. If you’ve ever wondered if you’re doing it right—life, that is—I’m here to say, odds are you are. Old, young, professional, career newbie, women, men, couples, singles, families—all of them engage in very similar conversations. People ask about others, share their concerns. People talk about common events. People discuss frustrations at work (and about co-workers). People express genuine thanks or appreciation to one another. Doesn’t matter who you are, I was an equal-opportunity eavesdropper.

But it was for your own good. What I overheard is evidence that we’re moving through this world, this cocktail hour, this hotel, this dinner, this town in very similar ways. We’re in it together, we’re getting it right.

So, below, I’m including for you as one of my last treatises to the ways the Pfister filled me up these past six months, a Mad-Lib of sorts of the random, detached comments I absorbed as an invisible observer in the hotel. They’re flying solo, detached from their owners and conversations, but you may recognize their themes and guess at which stories they fit.

What I hope you recognize is yourself.

I hope you see them as a story starter and that they inspire wonder and you create in your own mind the speaker and the connective narrative that surrounded these singular ideas. I know what they’re linked to. I know who said them. Those are my secrets, but I leave them for you to write your own story.

“Either you’re a Pfister person or you’re not”

“We become celebrity immune”

“Our Chicago friends don’t get it”

 “That’s the New York you’re hearing, honey.”

 “Is it too early for a cocktail?”

“The masseuse needs wine to see my body!”

 “I like your new look, it’s great!”

 “He wanted a martini, not a bloody Mary, a mimosa, something ‘morning’”

 “I like ‘em here.”

 “No, I’m waiting for someone”

 “You gotta kiss a lot of frogs, honey”

 “You hope the young people come, but…”

“I don’t get the Clooney thing”

“Frumpamuffin” (referencing Harrison Ford)

“If your dad and I ever hook up we could conquer the world!”

 “He used to ride.”

“Now, I’m not a marketing major…”

“You get the golden star!”

She’s a narrator, eh?” “There are a lot of other words for it…”

“Huh, Facebook.”

“Hmm, photographers… or really bad spies.”

 “It’s a made-up holiday—a Hallmark holiday…Now that’s marketing”

 “To get their favorite fix.”

“I have to have a wicked burrito from Taco John’s”

 “Mmm…it’s roastier.”

“We need another prohibition to get rid of this bad music.”

 “I can get that done for you.”

 “Ha! At two in the morning!”

“Well, we can wait at Blu!”

“Ha! The kids would never look for us there!”

“What’s your cholesterol?

“150.”

“Well, that’s good.”

“I wasn’t getting any action just on the mixer alone.”

“I’ll make you famous

I’m already famous; I was on three episodes of Dallas.

You shot JR?

No, but I met him.”

“Are you somebody?

No, I’m just the singer.” 

“She’s on the edge; she just needs to be pushed.”

 “I don’t know, will you write it?”

Yes. I loved writing it.

I’ll keep writing it. I promise.