Loud Talkers & Slow Walkers: A Curmudgeon’s Diary


It is not the alarm clock.

You know this because the dark-haired stranger floating outside your window is holding a masonry drill to a brick.

Mourning for your privacy, you cover the morning wood, drop the blinds and watch the floating face disappear like the image on a Japanese fan.

This morning’s nightmares weren’t as bad as usual. Falling off cliffs onto iron fence pikes is only a mite less dreadful than being torn limb from limb by giant babies in spider costumes while running late for your first entrance in the opera you hadn’t rehearsed. This temporary relief from the usual level of your night terrors makes the brown water streaming from the shower head seem a little less brown, though the rusty particles battering your face remind you that you are low on iron. So, while you cut open the Crest tube, scraping out the remnants of the sensitivity-whitening-anti-gingivitis-enamel-protection-cavity-fighting-sale-brand toothpaste, you remind yourself to buy more collard greens.

Collard greens: a reminder

Collard greens: a reminder.

Your inbox is empty.

Except for an e-mail from Barbay Sappupo who invites you to an “EX.C_LUSI&VE/ [sic] O#FF{R [sic],” setting the day on a certain course for raised eyebrows. You haven’t heard from Barbay since that online pharmacy sent you that e-mail about “the best tenchnique [sic] to please your gf.” There’s also an invitation from Nimbobo Tarshisha claiming that 3 sexy ladies are looking to “6get [sic] your men’s equimepnt [sic] ready for unbelievable [sic] night, dude9 [sic].”  You wish that Barbay and Nimbobo would learn how to use the spell check, or at spend a few fewer hours hacking with Hgorari Msih, Komuxi Eg and Lonely Cheating Wives.

A text from a colleague seems promising until he says, “Meet me for lunch on Friday,” as if, on this Thursday morning, your schedule will open gloriously at his convenience. When you explain that your schedule is full until next week, he presses you on a collaboration idea. You suggest a phone conversation – something you can do right now. “I don’t like to talk on the phone,” is his answer. You again suggest next week but he is going away for two months beginning Sunday. So it’s now or never. Crankier than usual, you wonder if there is a text message equivalent of punching someone in the face.

Your cell phone is auto-correcting “or” to “o’er” and “so good” to “pooh gourd.” So when another colleague asks about Saturday’s business dinner, your phone decides you wanted to say “sex is first” instead of “six is fine,” which prompts an embarrassing set of apology messages, each with corrections that make you wonder if you have ever deliberately typed the phrase “phat vag.”

You spend the afternoon not receiving replies to the 1200 inquiries you sent out and followed up on in the last 6 months. You are either doing something wrong or it’s time to remind yourself that in the theatre replies are optional as, apparently, are manners.

You ask your shaman what, aside from breathing and accepting, you can do to facilitate some kind of career movement. “Something for yourself,” is his answer.

Lunch. A quiet lunch of meditation, acceptance and non-meat on whole grain. Maybe you’ll even take a risk with some alfalfa sprouts since the organic-veggie-e.coli crisis happened weeks ago. Plus, everything else was pronounced “clean” before the government shutdown. What could possibly go wrong?

Next up? Typing, computer crashing, document losing and fee paying on someone else’s bouncing check.

Your shaman has instructed you to breathe. Leave the alfalfa sprout between molars fifteen and sixteen.

Collard greens! Steak! Iron! Tonight for dinner!

Nope. Nevermind. You are reminded of plans with a new acquaintance. He texts. You reply: “Heady! Sees you at 7:39.” [all sic]

No amount of contortions can make you disappear when you realize – too late – that your friend is a loud-talker. You resign yourself to ordering the first thing on the menu as your friend espouses his opinions about public breast feeding. Leaning in to speak in a whisper has no effect on his amplification. You agree that there is nothing wrong with public breast feeding but the top-volume use of the words “colostrum” and “areola” as a tourist family orders Tom Yum Goong next to you makes the glow of your red face that much more vivid. Even in the candlelight.

delicious: tom yung goong

Tom yung goong: what you didn’t order.

Eating quickly only leaves you with an empty plate as your companion continues, seemingly increasing in volume each time a word from sex ed is pronounced.

“Mons Pubis!”

Please pass the Jim Jum. And the check.

You bid goodbye on the street only to become aware of a nuisance of tourists, those herds of oozing, ogling, slow-walkers who collect in the paths of irate New Yorkers, causing an overspill into the bike lane. Skirting one of the less corpulent, you find yourself at city speed, racing toward a CitiBike Station where you will undoubtedly have more luck getting around. A bike will keep you off the sidewalk. Plus, being fifteen feet away from the nearest storefront will keep you from whatever camera-toting organic matter a coffee shop might egest.

Tourist night out. No bikes available.


You park your can on the bike share station and wait for a return.

Sometimes there are bikes.

Sometimes there are bikes.

Oh, sweet relief! That alfalfa sprout works its way out of your swelling gums!

And more relief! A biker slams her vehicle home, snaps the bungee cord fastening purse to bike-front and… spills the contents all over 8th Avenue.

Her day may be worse than yours.

A good deed will undoubtedly life your spirits. But she clicks into crazy-subway-lady mode: “This always happens. Why does this always happen to me?”

Lipstick. iPhone pieces. Credit cards on parade. She mutters and loony-bins away.

Holy crap! Today, I’m crazy subway lady.

Get on bike and go.

What could possibly go wrong, you wonder, when you see another rider, in the darkest part of an unlit stretch of bike lane, riding against the flow of traffic, looking down at his iPhone, steering with only one hand? You peep your whistle, gently, gently, lionized by his startled reaction which almost – almost – sends him twirling into an obliviot* who has stepped into the bike lane, her eyes glued to what is probably an important Buzzfeed list about otters.

Otter baby

Animal memes: vital to the success of the interwebs.

At this point, all you want to do is get home to that promotional copy of Shame so you catch those glimpses of Michael Fassbender’s penis.

The docking station outside your building has one bike slot available. Ah… sweet victory! Bike in place, you blaze from bike lane to revolving door.

Maybe you can get home without being noticed.

Maybe you forgot that the view from your window is something you cherish.

Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the sunset just to remind you that little annoyances need very little erasers.

Standing with your face to a tempest of color, you think, “Life is not not good.” Sometimes your inner curmudgeon just needs a day out.

The view from my window

The view from my window: glory at home.

*obliviot – n. an oblivious idiot; [etym. first used by Eric Potter in a Facebook feed; Sept. 2013.]

About Tom Gualtieri

Tom Gualtieri (@TomGGualtieri)is a theatre artist with his hand in many disciplines: lyricist, playwright, performer, director, knitter. He maintains an ongoing collaboration with composer David Sisco. His solo play, That Play: A Solo Macbeth, was nominated for a 2013 Drama Desk Award.
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2 Responses to Loud Talkers & Slow Walkers: A Curmudgeon’s Diary

  1. Pingback: Loud Talkers and Slow Walkers: A Curmudgeon’s Diary — The Good Men Project

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