Real-Life Dialogue (The Wind Beneath My Wings, the Garage Sale Beneath My Feet Edition): A Fragment

[The scene: a home in a suburban development in North Florida, USA. At a computer upstairs, He stares at a blank screen which represents, in fond theory and — for the moment — ebbing hope, a page in a novel-to-be. He wears headphones, volume turned up louder than normal to mask the downstairs haggling, laughter, and scrapes of wooden furniture on concrete floor.]

She calls His name, loudly, from the foot of the stairs.

He: WHAT?!?

She: Are you selling these shoes?

He: [pause] “Shoes”?

She: Shoes! These shoes! Are you selling them?

He: [confused] I don’t know wh—

She: Shoes. Brown. Made by Dexter. Lace-up shoes.

His eyes go out of focus. He recalls the shoes in question: He had bought them for Their honeymoon, in the far north, because they’d seemed rugged and tundra-worthy. The last time He’d worn them had been when He last did anything resembling yard work, when Tyrannosaurs ruled the cul-de-sacs and saber-toothed cats, the rooftops. Over the years, the shoes had become crusted with (on the outside) dried mud, grass clippings, fertilizer, accumulated grime, the dust of a nearby bursting asteroid, and (on the inside) a salty rime of ancient perspiration. Those shoes. Someone wants to freaking buy—?

She: [impatient] Never mind! If you can’t remember them then I’m selling them!

The blank screen now mocking Him, He shakes his head but cannot reply.


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Real-Life Monologue (Anthropomorphism Edition)

[For information about this photo, which doesn’t precisely relate to the post,
see the note at the bottom.]

The scene: A suburban home in northern Florida, USA. He is trying to get the household denizens out the door promptly in the morning. He has walked and scooped up after The Pooch. He has fed The Pooch; He has fed The Cat. He has prepared the snacks/lunches which He and She will need during their respective workdays. The Pooch, at the gate to the kitchen, tosses her paper plate in the air, signaling breakfast done-age and, hence, ordering a second course. He ignores her. He sets out the various daily medications which He and She take. The Pooch barks. He ignores her. He brings the newspaper in. The Pooch noses her empty plate around on the tile floor. He ignores her. He gets His water bottle from the refrigerator. The Pooch barks again.

He (to The Pooch): Jesus Christ, all right already, I hear you! You think you’re the only person in the house?!?


About the photo: We have a wet bar in the living room, and after we get home from work at the end of the day one or the other of us will usually go there to make a drink. We stock the bottles of sweet-and-smoky-smelling liquids in a cabinet below the sink, as you can see at the right of this photo. About eight of every ten times we do this, The Pooch comes to her water bowl to drink, as shown (here wearing her red Team Woof hoodie). This completely cracks us up.

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Real-Life Dialogue (Awkward Moments Edition)

[The scene opens in the waiting room of Super Mega Giant medical center in a mid-sized city in northern Florida, USA. He is a middle-aged male, and has been for some time. This report includes two Shes: A, a medical assistant; and J, a nurse practitioner.]

A: Mr. He?

He: Right here.

A: Very good, come with me. [She leads him to an alcove with a scale, weighs him, makes note on chart.] All right, now, here’s the exam room you’ll be using. [Extends hand.] My name is A, and I’m Dr. B’s new medical assistant.

[He does not know what a “medical assistant” is, or where people with that title reside on the medical hierarchy, but believes He will be able to guess from what follows. He is right.]

A: Let me just take your blood pressure and your pulse…

[She does so, then moves to computer, sits down, and asks series of very basic questions about His medical history as she keys in His answers. He concludes she’s some sort of trainee. She checks computer screen.]

A: Okaaay… Looks like you’re due for EXAM* today, is that right?

[He wasn’t expecting it. He never is; its various surprises, after all, are essential features of EXAM.]

He: Um, I guess, sure.

A: Well, I’m pretty much done here. I’m not sure if J will do EXAM or if Dr. B will. I’ll let them sort that out. J will be in in just a minute. Nice to meet you!

[She exits. Five-ten minutes later, J, the nurse practitioner, enters.]

J: Good morning. Mr. He, nice to see you again.

[She sits at computer terminal. Asks him many questions about his prescriptions’ status. Asks if he has any questions about his lab results.]

He: Nope, I think I understood what I was looking at.

J: [Standing up.] All right then. I’ll just take care of this one last thing…

[She approaches the table on which He sits. He dismounts from the table, turns to face it, unfastens his belt and pants, lowers his pants—]

J: Wait! What the hell are you doing?!?

He: Uh, well, A said that either you or—

J: Oh, she did, did she? Well I’ll just straighten her out!

[She leaves exam room. He waits perhaps a minute and concludes that he should refasten his pants.]

[Five-ten minutes more, J re-enters exam room.]

J: Now, as I started to say, let me just get this stethoscope off the wall here so I can check your heart and lungs…

He: Ah. So then you aren’t going to, umm, do EXAM?

J: [Shakes head violently, makes “time-out” sign with both hands.] NO. Dr. B will be in when I’m done and he will take care of you.

He: You have to admit, this is pretty funny—

J: [Says nothing, but shudders exaggeratedly, and leaves.]


* Details of EXAM need not be spelled out, need they?

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Real-Life Dialogue (Household Hints Edition)

The scene: a suburban home in North Florida, USA. Family gathering for Kentucky Derby viewing: gambols and gambles. Much food and beverage being prepared and consumed. He has just returned to house after walking Pooch. Everyone but She is in the living room, talking, laughing, watching TV.

He: [entering kitchen, where He knows She must be] We had a productive walk— What?

She stands before open pantry, laughing madly, pulling things from shelves and dropping them on floor.

She: I can’t find my baking soda!

He: [mentally running through menu items, not remembering any which involve baking soda] Your, uh, baking so—

She: Yes! Baking soda! I can’t find it!

She shuts pantry door, which immediately springs back open because of heap of boxes, cans, and canisters on floor.

He: What do you need baking soda f—?

She: [reaching back into pantry, emerging with familiar dull-yellow box; running around to front of stove, and still bursting sporadically into demented giggles] I need it for the fire!

He: Er, the fire—?

She: Yes! [yanks open oven door] The fire! The potholder fire!

She points, needlessly now, to a flaming mass of thick furry dark-blue fabric on bottom of oven. The oven is filled with smoke, and also with a pan of oven-broiled sandwiches for the Derby Day crowd. She dumps half the box of baking soda on the erstwhile potholder, and shuts the oven door.

She: I dropped a potholder in the oven.

He: Yes, I noticed. But the—

She: I knew baking soda would put it out safely.

He: But the, uh, the pan—

She: [leaning back against counter, sipping at mint juleps] You should never use water on an oven fire.

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Real-Life Dialogue (EDT Edition)

[The scene: a suburban home situated somewhere in the (US) Eastern time zone. It is a mild, sunny Sunday afternoon in mid-March, and He and She are seated at their respective computers on opposite sides of a low wall, enjoying the sunshine when they remember to look out a window.]

She: [From her side of wall.] John?

He: Hmm?

She: What do you think about dinner tonight? Feel like grilling something?

He: Hmm? Oh, sure, yeah. What you have in mind?

She: I don’t know. Let me think about it.

He: Okay, let me know. I’ve gotta return the movies and pick up some other groceries, so I can grab something to grill, too.

[Time passes.]

She: What time is it?

[He consults his watch.]

He: A little before 2.

She: But… Oh, that’s right — I must’ve never adjusted this clock over here the last time we changed. Did you remember to change your alarm clock last night?

He: Yeah.

She: Good.

[Time passes. At various times, one or the other of them goes downstairs, heats up water for another cup of coffee or tea, messes with dog for a few minutes, and returns to his or her computer. Silence for a while, and then…:]

She: Omigod, look at the time! Weren’t you going to go to the store?

He: C’mon for crissake, will you relax, it’s only quarter to five!

She: Then how come my computer’s time says quarter to six?!?

He: [Frowning and rolling eyes, safely on his side of the wall.] Oh, for… don’t you see? It’s stupid damn Windows! If you’d let me switch you to Linux like I—

[Momentary silence.]

She: Well, what?

He: Crap crap crap. My computer’s clock says quarter to six, too.

She: But I thought you said—

He: Yeah, I set the alarm right. But I never adjusted my damn watch.

[Muffled explosions of breath from far side of wall.]

She: So now it’s too late to grill, isn’t it?

He: Uh, yeah, I guess so. Yeah… sorry.

She: So what are we gonna do about dinner?

He: I don’t know. Let me think about it.

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Real-Life Dialogue

The scene: the living room of a rustic but solidly built house in Vermont, with a gorgeous view spread beneath and a Green Mountainside above. It is a summer morning, and the sun is still low but bright and cheerful. The Guest and The Erstwhile Missus are there at the invitation of D—, a colleague of TEM; the two women teach at the same school, and are in the kitchen talking.

For their part, The Guest and G—, who is D—‘s husband, met for the first time just a few minutes ago. They now share a sofa in the living room. They have their feet propped up on a rugged coffee table which G— himself constructed, starting with actual logs and, conceivably, a blacksmith’s forge and anvil. A former industrial chemist in a Pennsylvania city, he moved to Vermont to be with D—; having utterly changed careers, he has become a successful carpenter. He built this very house, as well as its two predecessors. His whole demeanor seems that of New Hampshire (The Granite State) rather than Vermont: craggy. On the TV over the fireplace, a man in a threadbare suit and thin gray carefully-combed hair reads agricultural news from a sheaf of paper: news not just of weather but of livestock auctions, grain prices, and government-subsidy deadlines.

In short, The Guest is on alien ground, apparently having shared not a single life experience with G— but eager, for TEM’s sake, to ingratiate himself in some way.

Guest: You know, I’ve always wanted to live in Vermont.

G— is silent for a long moment, extending through the end of the segment on TV, several commercials, and the start of a new segment.

G—: (immobile, arms folded, gaze fixed on TV) Why’d you want to live in Vermont?

Guest: Oh jeez, it’s just beautiful here. I mean, look outside right now. (He gestures vaguely at the window.) Seriously — could anything be more beautiful than that? (He pauses to give G— a chance to interject something, anything.) In the fall, oh my gosh, it’s beautiful in the fall. (Another pause.) And if I had enough books and a house as well-built as this one, why, I bet I could be happy living up here my whole life.

Another protracted silence. Another commercial break.

G—: You ski?

Guest: (speaking rapidly) Nope — never been on skis in my life! Actually now that I think about it snow skiing, water skiing no difference, never even held a ski in my hands, actually I’m not very athletic at all, no sir.

The silence oppresses. From the kitchen, sounds of female laughter and the clatter of tableware. The newsreader on TV seems to have started all over again: temperature and precipitation expectations for the day, records of past years—

G—: (only his mouth moving) So why’d you want to live in Vermont?

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Real-Life Dialogue

[The scene: a small quasi-hallway between garage and kitchen in a suburban house somewhere in North Florida.]

She: [pointing to weird, waist-high structure made of woven twigs and/or sticks, with four legs, a torso, and a head from which antlers sprout] Why is that still here?

He: [studiously ignoring the obvious] Why is what still here?

She: That. The reindeer.

He: Well, it’s a Christmas orn–

She: But Christmas was three months ago. Why is that reindeer still here?

He: Maybe it would help if you don’t think of it as a reindeer. Think of it as a stag.

She: It’s not a stag! Put it with the other Christmas stuff!

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Real-Life Dialogue

He: So what kind of car did she get?

She: I don’t know, I forget. It starts with an “E.” Some kind of American car.

He: […prolonged thoughtful silence…]

[time passes]

She: I wish I could remember what kind of car it was.

He: Well, the only kind I could think of that started with an “E” is “Elantra,” but that’s a foreign—

She: I’m not sure it starts with an “E.”

He: Oh… Well, since she got it from a Chevrolet dealer, is it a Chevrolet at least?

She: I don’t know!… Name some kinds of Pontiac. A sporty Pontiac.

He: Well, there’s the Firebird but I don’t think they make them anymore.

She: They don’t. And it’s not a Firebird anyway.

He: […]

She: Name some more Pontiacs. Sporty ones.

He: Uh… Grand Prix?

She: No, it’s not a Grand Prix… Maybe it is a Grand Prix.

[dials phone, talks briefly]

She: Yes. It’s a Grand Prix.

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