I suppose these days, what with people sitting around in restaurants and wandering through stores talking loudly on their cell phones about Aunt Geraldine’s latest visit to the gynecologist or Cousin Sam’s messy divorce, people probably just tune out everyone else when in a public place. Except me, I have a hard time ignoring loud talk and find it quite rude to be exposing everyone within 50 feet of you to the intimate details of your life.
However, I too was caught up in a similar situation once. It was long ago, I was collaborating with a woman named Ann on a murder mystery novel. This one day it turned out to be more convenient for us to meet at a restaurant for lunch and discussion of our progress.
It was getting noisy, as the place filled up and we found ourselves having to talk louder to hear while we discussed various plot twists and character attributes. One particularly tricky bit finally flashed into inspirational focus for Ann and in her excitement she fairly shouted, “…and we could have the gardener kill Mr. Murdle and throw the body down the old well!”
We noticed immediately that the place was unusually quiet. Looking around, all eyes were glued to us in shocked amazement. Some were thinking about calling the police: we could see it in their eyes.
“It’s OK; we’re writers,” I explained, “we’re working on a book.”
Most of them gave us an “Oooohhh, I see” sort of look and went back to their meals. A few, however, kept casting sidelong glances at us and seemed to be trying to listen in.
That was the only time we met at a restaurant to discuss our work!