Not long ago, inspired by another blogger, I posted about how writers often like to listen to strangers' conversations, a practice that sometimes qualifies as eavesdropping, although for genuine eavesdropping, please consult the Federal Government and its zany, madcap warrant-less wiretapping program.
I noted in the post that if, for example, you just happen to be walking by people on the street and they say something interesting, then surely that is serendipity, not eavesdropping.
Yesterday, as I was carrying bags of stuff out of a grocery store (an old-fashioned term I prefer to "supermarket," where I never find "super" to be sold), I passed by two younger men, nicely dressed (on a break from work?), smoking. One of them said to the other, "But have you tried the milk thing?" Other man: "No. What is that?" First man: "That's where you try to drink a whole gallon of milk in under and hour." Second man, matter-of-factly, "Oh. No, I haven't."
Part of the pleasure associated with serendipitous listening (in addition, sometimes, to getting an idea for a poem or story) is the impossible task of filling in the context. Was this part of that vast area of behavior related to seemingly pointless male competitions? Was it a remedy for something--I mean something besides thirst or calcium deficiency? Was it a counter-protest aimed at those who think fewer cattle should exist? Was it a kind of training for a secret mission that would require the commandos to drink great quantities of liquid in a short span? I shall never know, probably.
But I'm not going to try the milk thing.