Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Listening and Lost Legs...

I was always a mama's boy growing up. But as I get older, I realize the two people whose blood flows through my veins more prominently than any other are my dad's and my mother's father. Reason being, I'm extremely, what's the word?... inquisitive? curious?... nosey. Yeah, nosey. I have to know people's stories and, more than that, if two are more people are having a conversation, even if I don't want a part in it, I want to know what's being talked about. Or, to put it more bluntly, I need to be all up into your business.

Here's one of Luke's favorite stories, and one of my earliest memories. My family, along with my mother's parents, were on vacation somewhere along the coast. We used to own one of those tiny pop-up trailers that are about the size of a Radio Flyer before being expanded... three radio flyers after. For a few years we would occasionally travel the "campgrounds" of East Texas, (quotes meant to denote derision at a place making room for white-trash-like-us calling itself a campground.) If you ever want to see the underbelly of society, visit one of these places.

We were all sitting around, my family and my grandfather. My grandmother was approaching us from one of her walks, but was still approximately 20 yards away. Coming up about 20 yards from another direction was a middle-aged man on crutches and missing a leg. My grandmother, being fully able to see the future, began a fast walk shouting "Floyd Neil," (my grandfather's first and middle names,) "Don't you even think about it!" Not hearing or (more likely) ignoring her, he yelled out to the man, "Floyd Neil Coleman is my name. How'd you lose your leg?"

A man's got to know these things.

I took my dinner break last night at Rosa's. Sitting next to me was a large table full of college guys. I knew deep down in my gut they belonged to a particular church in town, so I eavesdropped. Little clues, here and there, began to tip me off. Then a statement was made, and it sealed the deal.

I've got to know.

I've spent the past couple of hours at Panera. In this little area tucked away in the back gathered a group of mom types. My first guess was pastor's wives, because there was a new person in their group asking a lot of questions about what Waco is like. (Incidentally, I came very close to giving her my blog address with all the "Why I love this town" posts. But I didn't.) As the conversation drew on I discovered the new lady is married to a guy about to begin a surgical residency at one of the hospitals in town. Of course I wanted to ask a Grey's anatomy question, and also make a funny comment about how they are all white and female, meaning, in all likelihood, their significant others where all white male doctors and how that would never fly at Seattle Grace. But I kept quiet and just listened, picking up bits and pieces of information as I went.

I can tell you a lot of things about people in this town, but most of it would bore you. I guess it can all be summed up in the quote I used for the previous post-- at the end, (and the beginning) of the day, all we really want is to be close to someone.

So I'll keep listening and, when the time is right, I'll get closer. In the meantime, you'd better watch what you say. I'm more Floyd Neil than you know.

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