the eavesdropper

Listening In Outside the Spence School

Photo-Illustration: Curbed; Photo: ajay_suresh/Flickr/BusC Photography

Living in New York means constantly, discreetly listening in — to breakups at bars, friend fights on the subway, and gossip about complete strangers or, from time to time, people you do in fact know. But what happens when you situate yourself in an ultraspecific spot around the city over an extended period of time and listen intently? You learn a surprising amount about the state of things. Here, we stood in front of the all-girls Spence School on East 91st Street at pickup.

That’s so sweet. Thanks for telling me.
My lips are zipped. That’s so fabulous, my gosh.

She should not sleep over — she 100 percent should not!

I’m working five to 11, and I have to be back at five the next day. I said, “There’s been a mistake.” He says, “That’s what we pay for. You know how much I love you.” If they say something to you and you don’t say anything back to them, they do again. You say, “I’m very sorry, that’s not in my job requirement, but this one time, I am doing it.”
Don’t let them mistake kindness for weakness is what I say.

I haven’t seen her that sick in four years, and my doctor was like, “Don’t bug out.”
She was sick?
One-hundred-four-degree fever for five days.
I’d be bugging out!
Well, there’s a lot of stuff going around: RSV, flu, adenoid —
What’s that?
It’s, like, a new one.

Hi, [X].
Say, “Hi.”
I haven’t seen you in a long time. I think you and [X] lost the same tooth.
I can’t do teeth. That makes me, like, sick. I’m, like, actually nauseous.
Yeah, it’s so cringey.
I can do lots of gross things — like I can do shots, blood drawn — but I can’t do teeth.

[X], what did you forget? Elbow bump! Thank you.

Hi, ladies!
Good seeing you.
Your hair looks good.
I’m compensating.

She’s better. She was — oh my God — so sick but tested negative for everything. They did a panel for this thing, the adenoid virus.
They tested [X] for that too.
[X] had RSV.
Everyone has it. It’s like a croup mixed with fever with compromised breathing. My friend’s little boy had it for seven days. He’s 7. He just can’t kick the fever. He hasn’t had trouble breathing.

I took him to Dr. [X].
We go there, too.
My parents love him. They’re like, “He’s so handsome.”
He is!
You know who he’s married to? [X.]

I think we might have a special treat today. Is that okay?
What is it?
But it’s broccoli with a special topping. Did you know my favorite treat is a Ritz Cracker with melted cheese? I’ll take that over Le Bernardin.

Actually, our babysitter sings on Broadway!
That’s the most impressive thing ever.
I was like, “Can you just sing through dinner?”

I’m loving your hair this week.
We have the Dyson Airwrap. It’s amazing!
It’s amazing.

Hi, honey bunny, what’s going on? How’s my friend, my favorite girl in New York? Did you have school today? Now what?

Are you excited for gymnastics with [X]? Will you do me a favor and say you can’t wait to see her for Shabbat tomorrow?
For what?
For family dinner.

These kids are growing up in the big city. So much exposure.

She put her on piggyback?
She’s getting a little heavy for that.

We always spend Thanksgiving in the city. There’s so few of us, and first of all, none of us like turkey, so we’re going to the [X] Club for lunch there. It’s much more civilized. I like your sneakers. Those are so cute.
I do so much walking I’ve resigned myself.
Well, I’m in flats and am destroying my flats for no reason.

At least [X] loves dance, though?
Well, [X] doesn’t dislike her dance class, but I don’t expect our kids to necessarily be as passionate about our desires as we are.

Listening In Outside the Spence School