Wiretapping Strangers

16 01 2008

It started out pretty innocent. Then against, doesn’t everything? I knew a kid growing up who loved to catch tadpoles and watch ’em grow. Now he’s a research biologist who catches tadpoles and watches ’em grow. Tell me, is that a life you’d want? My own dad had spent his childhood playing “Zorro” and watching the chefs down at the Pig n’ Pasta. He grew up to own the second best Mexican restaurant/drive in movie theatre in the whole state.

It’s a shame, really.

But enough of that bunny trail.

I was sitting in my garage one day, just fiddling around with some old tools and bits of wire. I’d been trying to clean out this one cupboard for years and could never seem to get around to it. Personally, I think it was my better nature asserting itself. I knew for a fact that there was a perfectly respectable family of black rats in that cupboard (third shelf) and I just hated to bother ’em.

Dad always said that it was just pure cussed lazyness that kept that cupboard filthy. I just don’t buy that explanation, though. Not for a second.

I don’t know what made me think that I’d find the wire cutters in that messy ol’ cupboard. They didn’t seem any more likely to be in there rather than somewhere else. I just needed some and the cupboard was a lot closer than my junk drawer in the house.

So I leaned over, stuck my arm into the cupboard about up to my shoulder and fished around. I felt a lot of strange stuff: something that I know was one of the rats, a poky thing that felt like a chestnut burr and at least one thing that slimed and oozed and felt just like three-day-old fish. No wire cutters, though.

That’s the point where I stuck my head in the cupboard and came nose-to-spine with something I haven’t seen in years… a book.

I knew it was a book ’cause my ma used to read them. I don’t have any perticuler aquaintence with ’em, but I know one when I see it and I can read as well as ‘most anybody.

This one was called “Wiretapping Strangers: A Dummies’ Guide”. Well, I thought that’s me!

Before I knew it I was sitting on a spare tire, the book propped up on a length of garden hose which was sitting on an old tricycle, and reading the darned thing. It was just about the most interesting subject I could have thought of.

It turns out that wiretapping strangers is about the easiest thing you can think of doing. The book was real careful to warn against wiretapping friends, family or aquaintences. That can lead to all kinds of ugliness (and not the kind like my Aunt Roberta-May who has warts and no teeth).

By the end of the day I was all set to go, and it only took me three more days to wiretap the six most interesting houses on my street.

That’s when the trouble started.

I thought that wiretappin’ would be fun. Like going to the fair or having real live sitcoms playin’ just for you. It was nothing like that!

The engineering was complicated, the upkeep was near-impossible and (worst of all) my neighbors turned out to be boring. They talked about soccer practice, homework, grocery shopping and pets. Once in a while a couple of lovesick teenagers’d get on the phone but they only talk about themselves. It’s sickening, NOT entertaining. (And I know entertainment! My daddy owned the second-best Mexican restaurant/drive-in movie theatre in the state!)

The problem is, now I’m hip-deep in banal conversations and technical difficulties. I can’t stop listening because there’s always a chance someone will say something interesting someday.

And I still haven’t cleaned out that cupboard…

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5 responses

17 01 2008
Jason

Not bad, especially for a stream-of-consciousness thing (which I’m guessing this was). My main problem is that the voice seemed inconsistent. On one hand he was saying things like “perticuler”, on the other he was using words like “banal” and saying how the neighbor’s conversations were “sickening” (as opposed to “made me sick” or something).

Keep them coming though. For future reference, you should know I always try to be helpfully critical with these sort of things, so I’m never trying to be negative. Just honest. If I didn’t care, I just wouldn’t say anything. 😛

17 01 2008
Jennifer James

I love the opening paragraph! I actually love the whole thing, and at first, I had the same thought as Jason “he says banal, but can’t spell?” But we ARE talking about a guy who obviously has some smarts, as he can build his own wiretapping device….

17 01 2008
Jennifer James

Also=I love the family of rats.

Also- I hope our thoughts aren’t feeling hurty. I would feel horrible if we discouraged you from writing more, because I LOVE when you write.

17 01 2008
walkingintherain

Nawh. I take (and expect) lots of criticism when I write stuff at work. It’s hard to keep up a consistent tone when every third sentence you have to answer a phone or fill an online order.

These are meant to be entertaining. Nothing more.

17 01 2008
Jason

Yeah that’s kinda what I thought (that it’d be hard to write something like this at work). I just personally get annoyed if people respond to my stuff and never say anything negative because I know there are some parts (or the whole thing) that people don’t like, and I don’t know what to improve on for the next one.

Oh and I thought the first paragraph was creative too. Keep writing keep writing, I want to read more of these!

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