Eavesdropping as Entertainment and Kids These Days

3 Aug

"Abner! Abner!"

Since the weather has been so nice lately, I’ve been reading and working outside a lot. My neighbors have also taken advantage of the sunshine, and I’ve gotten quite a kick out of eavesdropping on the backyard goings-on around me. I feel a bit like James Stewart in Rear Window–only without the murder suspicions and broken leg. Okay, I guess if you take those factors away, there is no Rear Window. Maybe I feel like Gladys Kravitz (from Bewitched, for all you lame-os), but with less shrieking and magic. Whatever, it’s been fun to listen in on the neighbors.

There’s been lots of entertainment from what I assume are the teenage girls from across the way. They always start by cranking up their music–for a whole day it was Beyonce, another day it was all club-type stuff, jerky and synthesizer-heavy. Then, I imagine, they lay around in the sun. They gossip in loud voices about boys–apparently Jason has been texting Emily even though Emily is like, totally not into him–and every once in a while I hear a phone ring and some squeals. It’s amusing, and sort of sweet in an I’m-glad-that’s-not-me kind of way.

The little boy who lives in back of us is named Liam. I’ve never met the kid, but his mother must say his name every other minute. I feel for her– poor Mom sounds like she’s got an imp on her hands.

Ewww! Liam, put that down! Come and wash your hands this second!
Liam, if you leapfrog over your sister ONE more time…
Liam, the hose is not a rope!
Liam, I know you’re not rolling around in the dirt in your new pants!

I usually can’t hear Liam’s responses to his mom, but I imagine them to be charmingly contrite. I have heard his voice, though, because he tends to narrate when he’s playing pretend.

Liam runs through the jungle and uses his lightning vision to blast through the zombies. BAM BAM BAM! The zombies surround Liam and he makes them fall with a huge karate kick. HI-YA! Liam is the only surivor! Liam saves the whole world! Woooooo! Wooooooooooo! I am Liam the Great! Woooo!

(No, I have no idea what zombies were doing in the imaginary jungle, but don’t you love this kid?)

Believe it or not, the time slots for the teenage girls and Liam the Great haven’t competed with each other. That is, until today, I’ve listened to either the girls or Liam (and his mom). Maybe the two groups don’t have the same days off–who knows?

Anyway, I thought today was a Liam Day. I was listening to him and his sister (who’s only a supporting role on The Liam Show–she walks on every once in a while and says a funny line but then you don’t hear from her) bounce around on their trampoline. They were having such fun and it was nice to sit and listen to their squeals and laughter. Then, the unprecedented happened. The teenage girls started their music. It was like I was watching one show, and the universe turned another one on at the same time.

At first the girls listened to the kind of music you’d expect from them. Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.” Some Lady Gaga tunes. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” Certainly not my favorite songs (actually, whenever any of these come on the radio I immediately change the channel), but nothing you, or Liam, wouldn’t hear while out and about in the world. But then things changed.

A song, and I use that term loosely, came on that was 3 parts rap, 5 parts hate. For the sake of Oh My Words! google search results (and, of course, your innocent mind), let’s just say that unsavory names for females were used liberally in these lyrics and sexual acts with those females were bragged about pretty graphically. The chorus, which repeated often, suggested that a woman is only good for one thing….and boys and girls, it wasn’t her mind or her sense of humor. I sat there, shocked at my giggly teenage neighbors’ new musical tastes, when I noticed that the trampoline sounds weren’t as steady. 

Were Liam and his sister….listening?

Nooooo! I wanted to yell for them to cover their ears and run away singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” I wanted to hunt down those girls and demand that they turn that off and list ten reasons why it was degrading to women and insulting to the whole of humanity. And no repeats!

Luckily, while I was picturing myself as a tyrannical, censoring, avenging angel of the neighborhood (with teacher tendencies), Liam’s mom was on it.

Liam! You guys! How about coming in the house?

[indistinguishable, uncooperative kid noises]

Yeah, come on, we’ll do something fun in here. It’s hot out!

[more noises–imagine the kid version of the wah-wah adult noises in Peanuts]

You wanna watch some tv?

[I can tell Mom’s getting desperate, but the kids aren’t taking the bait. Meanwhile, the icky song continues…]

Come on! Everyone inside!

Just then–heavenly music drifted through the air, pushing back the awful other stuff like Harry’s Potter’s red wand or Luke’s green lightsaber. A lifeline. A cure. A timeless miracle.

The ice cream truck.

There was a  mad dash of kid-feet, trampoline forgotten. Their excited cries were shut off once a door slammed, but I pictured them inside, asking Mom if they could please go and run to the truck. Maybe it’s something their mom doesn’t normally agree to (We have perfectly good ice cream here! Not before dinner! It’s too expensive!) but this time she hands out money like a trooper, keeping her relief to herself.

During all this (imagined) frenzy, the Bad Song from the girls’ yard ended, and Maroon 5 came on. I’d like to think that that one song was a mistake, that maybe it was a mix cd from an acquaintance with scary, schizophrenic musical tastes. Or maybe the girls were listening to a really weird radio station? Anyway, that sort of “music” didn’t drift my way again, and Liam and his sister got an ice cream out of it. (Well, in my mind they did.)

The moral of the story is that eavesdropping is fun and ice cream cures everything.

15 Responses to “Eavesdropping as Entertainment and Kids These Days”

  1. We're Jumpin' August 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    I could read this over and over. So detailed, and I could picture the scenes happening before my eyes. Thank you for sharing, this stories makes me wonder what it would be like with neighbors, but when I head outside I hear the frogs, crickets, and the distant dogs. 🙂

    • Oh My Words! August 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

      oh wow–I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!
      Your home’s natural soundtrack sounds very tranquil…I’m picturing a fairytale farm somewhere 🙂

  2. Michael August 4, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    All Liam needs is a stuffed tiger and he could rival Calvin for imaginative creativity. Jungle zombies. Brilliance!

    • Oh My Words! August 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

      You know, I *thought* he reminded me of someone! Calvin! Of course!

  3. belleofthecarnival August 4, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    Hahaha! The ice cream truck does cure everything! I thought I was the only one eavesdropped on my neighbors – it nice to know I’m not the only one 🙂

    • Oh My Words! August 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

      oh, no way–you’re absolutely not the only one who eavesdrops! I’m *always* listening. (I feel like there should be a “muahahaha” after that last sentence, but I swear I eavesdrop with good intentions…)

  4. lexy3587 August 4, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    lol… liam sounds like Calvin… Spaceman Spiff could fight off the zombies in the jungle, i’m sure of it 🙂

    • Oh My Words! August 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

      with one hand behind his back! and a malfunctioning spacecraft! 😀

      (I love Calvin, which probably explains why I love Liam and his narrations.)

  5. Deborah the Closet Monster August 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    1) I absolutely do love this kid.

    2) I second your thoughts on those songs, especially the Bruno Mars one, which is in fact referenced in the title of one of my earliest posts: “Be Creepier, ‘Grenade.’ Wait, don’t.”

    3) I loved everything about this entry (although it pained me to read about the Bad Song in conjunction with the little ones), but most of all the delightful moral! I’d love morals like that to pop up in Li’l D’s stories. Or, on second thought, perhaps they’re better as is? 😉

    • Oh My Words! August 8, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

      1) I love that you love this kid
      2) I could go on a big ranty rant about “Grenade,” which I actually hate with a fiery passion that I didn’t unleash in this post. I am thrilled that someone else is not blinded by this song too, and I’m going to go read your post RIGHT now so I can nod sagely and maybe mutter some “amens”
      3) I’m working on a theory that the moral of most stories is ice cream 🙂

  6. Wobbly Words August 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Fabulous! You should really print this and drop a copy off for Liams mom 🙂 …as long as it isnt stalker/creepy -ish.

    Anyhow, this morning I went to breakfast with my family at “locals joint” kind of dinner (first for me and my visiting family). There, my mom and I enjoyed eavesdropping on a table of senior ladies. The biggest laugh came when one women was talking about a few kids, presumably grandchildren, who unsuccessfuly used a fake ID and ended up in the local police drunk tank overnight… “but they werent even drunk yet!”

    • Oh My Words! August 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

      awww those are some fun grandmas. We’re going to be like that, okay? I’ve already decided.

  7. tamarapaulin August 8, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Visiting via Jo’s blog. I love this story! There’s a Bad Michael in the house next to mine. He’s always in trouble and it breaks my heart. I want to buy him a drum set for Christmas.

    When I see the scrawny, limp-armed teen girls at my Starbucks, I want to make them eat sandwiches and read something feminist.

    • Oh My Words! August 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

      A drum set? What a fun neighbor you are! Imagine if your Michael and my Liam got together….”dynamic duo” comes to mind 🙂

      I have to thank you for the mid-afternoon laugh–your teen girls comment was too funny! Maybe you should make it a mission to hand out readings and sandwiches, like a community service….


  1. Monday’s Top 5 | The Happy Logophile - August 7, 2011

    […] a great vignette of suburban life on Oh My Words! entitled Eavesdropping as Entertainment and Kids these Days. It’s funny because it’s […]

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