Saturday, April 27, 2013

Greatest Overheard Conversations (Part 1)

Several years ago, a co-worker and I had the occasion to complete some work for the local fire department. The nature of firefighting lends itself to periods of prolonged downtime punctuated by moments of sheer terror so, like most of us they spend a fair amount of their idle hours watching television.  On this particular occasion two middle-aged firemen were seated in matching recliners as they attempted to locate programming worth their time.

For the sake of efficiency, one was operating the remote while the other scanned the programming guide from the local newspaper. Their banter, in conjunction with the domestic setting, struck us a comical and we found ourselves exchanging glances as they spent the better part of fifteen minutes attempting to decide on a channel. Then, fireman A (wielding the periodical) indicated that their search was over. With a subtle look of triumph he stated, “ManSquito starts in a half-hour on the SciFi channel.”

Taking a moment to process this, his viewing companion’s face became a mask of contemplation as he weighed his options. Then, without a hint of irony, came the response:

“What’s it about?”

It was at this moment I was forced to abandon any pretense of working and I glanced up fully expecting to see a mischievous grin on both their faces. Instead, I witnessed fireman A furiously scanning the paper in search of a plot synopsis while fireman B eagerly awaited the answer before casting his deciding vote. Far from a facetious exchange among peers, I realized that I was witnessing a methodical decision making process and in the balance hung the remainder of a Tuesday afternoon.

The anticipation was killing me, and had fireman A taken a moment longer I would have been unable to prevent myself from screaming, “It is a movie called ManSquito on a network that deals exclusively in science-fiction programming! The title alone serves as a blatant indication that the film details the exploits of a man-insect hybrid and the unexpected consequences of genetic engineering!”

Instead, I heard fireman A clear his throat and utilize a gritty southern monotone as he read the following summary:

“A man and a mosquito are fused in this 2005 SciFi epic.”

Now in possession of this clarifying information, fireman B’s head swayed slightly from side to side as he continued to agonize over whether or not he wished to become emotionally invested in such a motion picture. Mercifully, he ended our suspense by declaring, “That sounds like something” before navigating to the appropriate channel and returning his full attention to a bowl of snack mix.

Unfortunately, I was unable to witness their reaction to ManSquito, but in my mind in plays out like this:

As the credits roll, Fireman B glances down at his depleted snack bowl and laments, “That wasn’t what I thought it was going to be….” To which Fireman A replies, “Don’t beat yourself up man, it could have gone either way.”

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