One of the most alienating things I found of being in a foreign country (Costa Rica, for example) is the lack of comprehension of peripheral dialogue. Oftentimes it's difficult enough to decipher what Pablo is saying to you in your immediate convo, much less what Maria and Norma are yacking about in the background.
And it's this almost numbing (at times) lack of cumulative comprehension that can make one feel rather detached and like one ought to have better practiced one's conjugations for the perfect indicatives (no he estudiado).
And so in returning to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Twinkie, I've found these peripheral conversation tidbits to be of some comfort if not amusing also. Generally I'd say that I like to know what's going on around me and kind of what people are saying. And in catching the tidbits, I like to reconstruct what people could be talking about and the potential broader contexts.
Here are a few tidbits I heard while walking across the campus of the University of Oklahoma on a crisp November day:
Tidbit No. 1 (kid talking on cell phone while walking his bike): "Well, yeah, but I want you to know that I'm NOT afraid of that..."
Tidbit No. 2 (smartly dressed businessman to businesswoman): "Oh YEAH, if you sear it in the pan, Mahi-Mahi is just REALLY delicious..."
Tidbit No. 3 (girl with calf-length suede boots, large sunglasses and a purse with greek letters on it): "Oh my gosh, her parents are like total hippies..."
So yes, it's in the peripheral things, it seems, that we find some sense of familiarity and attachment, if not a touch of wholesome amusement. Or maybe I'm just nosy.
I wonder what people think of my conversations.