By Archie P. McDonald
There is a subtle difference between innocently and unavoidably overhearing conversations between others and deceitful, deliberate eavesdropping. At least I hope so, though the reaction of the overheard may be the paramount factor in the perception.
Most of us, I presume that I have been on both sides of this equation, and know that either side can be painful. It can also be enlightening, and humorous.
Case in point. A while ago the University of North Texas Press reissued a book of humor for which I bear responsibility. The book reached print more than fifteen years earlier, but the new director thought a few more sales could be squeezed out, especially if we publicized it.
So I agreed to drive up to Tyler and spend the night so I could be at a television station for an interview “sometime between six and seven o’clock”—in the morning, mind you, for which I had to be present no later than 5:30 a.m. This was one of those rare occasions when Judy could travel with me, so we drove up to Tyler, had a good dinner, and hit the hay early.
I arose in darkness, stole away to the station, and found the place being run by kids, one of whom had been in my class a couple of years before. We chatted, I read a book while they presented “news, weather and sports” to early risers, and finally, by the dawn’s early light, we did my five-minute spot.
Back to the hotel, I picked up Judy for breakfast. We were the first customers of the day, but were joined shortly afterward by another, much younger couple—say, late teens, early twenties. Both were dressed in warm-up, exercise suits, but obviously were fresh from bed, having, shall we say, cohabited for the evening. I have no idea why, but they were seated directly next to us, so I had no choice but to hear this exchange:
Him, looking at the menu: “I wonder how much this Lumberjack breakfast costs?”
Her: “Hon, don’t worry about it. I’ve got plenty of money.”
Him: “But I hate to use your money.”
Her: “Don’t worry about it. Its Daddy’s money.”
Now, this exchange may be open to multiple interpretations, but I will say only these things: First, apparently Daddies have more money and are more understanding than they were in the 1950s, or second, every father I know, if they had heard such, would have had a stroke.
P.S. That Lumberjack Breakfast looked really good.
Archie P. McDonald was a professor of history and Community Liaison at Stephen F. Austin State University. His commentaries were also featured each Friday morning on Red River Radio.