Daily Archives: 16 November 2009

Conversations while reading while walking

I’ve posted about these brief conversations before, and they continue to amuse and even fascinate me. How much can be communicated in the time it takes to pass a friend, neighbour or stranger in the street! The conversation en passant is an under-appreciated artform.

So here are a couple that have accumulated over the last couple of weeks.

Neighbour: (beaming) Jonathan, every time I see you you’re reading. I wish it would rub off. It’s years since I’ve read anything.
Me: It’s not always serious stuff, you know. (Though I was reading Sarah Maddison’s Black Politics, which is surely serious enough for anyone.)
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A non-conversation that fits here anyhow: I actually saw someone else in the Taylor Street Park reading while walking, accompanied by a dog. We didn’t acknowledge each other, and I didn’t get close enough to see what she was reading. It had an orange cover.
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This one could have happened whether I was reading or not (I was wearing my red Viva-the-Kevolution shirt – a red version of this one, not this one):

Silver-haired man outside Glebe library: I’m not talking to you! (When I took no notice, being about 20 metres away) Hey, man in the red shirt … I’m not talking to you! (As I look up from my book and acknowledge him) I’ve got ADHD and I’m disciplining myself not to talk to everyone who walks past, so I’m not talking to you.
Me: (somewhat absent-mindedly) Oh, OK, thanks. (Now more like 30 metres from him, I return to my book.)
Silver-haired man: (calling cheerfully) I’m a little disappointed in your response. It would have been better if you’d said. ‘Now I’ll never know what I’m missing out on,’ or something like that.
Me: (closing my book, turning to face him, but not retracing my steps) Of course, I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.
Silver-haired man: You see how needy I am!
Me: You’ll do.

My guess is that this charming man has been convinced  by a well meaning psychiatrist / psychologist that his ‘inappropriate’ gregarious impulses constitute a disorder.
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More of these conversations as they occur. I do get a lot of indulgent smiles, and I’m not including dog-psychology haiku chats