It really is an art form, you know, one that needs constant practice and refinement if you want to master it with any subtlety and finesse (enough that your husband doesn't lose patience with you in a restaurant.)
ie., while having dinner out last week with my hubby, I listened in on a heated conversation between an unhappy couple next to us (they finally agreed to disagree about their son's choice for a wife) while also eavesdropping on an eyebrow raising "we only have an hour " let's-eat-and-get-out-of-here talk between a couple at the opposite table who looked like they'd slipped off their wedding bands at the door (trust me, all the signs of an affair were there.) Beyond that, a woman and her friend were at a corner table, one wiping away tears while the other said, "He really wasn't worth it."
I know. It's invasive and impolite, but (shrug) I can't help it. It's not intentional, more like a multi-tasking reflex I can't control. I'm an author after all and on a subconscious level I'm always looking for new material, but beyond that... I really do find people and what they go through fascinating. No crime there, right? To be fair, I also listen in on my own family. For example, yesterday, I overheard a chat between my nine-year-old and his buddy that enlightened me on a child's point of view when it comes to the development of the human brain (potentially good material for some future novel.) It went like this:
My son: "You don't really have a brain until you're two. Until then it's just mush, like Jello. From two until five it grows, then when you turn five the protective cover falls off and your brain starts soaking up everything everybody says to you and everything you see on TV."
Other kid (looking skeptical): "Huh... Do you think your brain has changed since your cover came off?"
My son: "Oh, yeah! Until I was five, speed meant nothing to me! I'd ride down a big hill on my bike or go on a rollercoaster and I didn't care cuz I didn't know anything about death or dying. I won't do any of that now, though. Now I know too much."
Time to fess up, bloggers. Are any of you shameless eavesdroppers like me?