Saturday in Suburbia: What’s your poison?

20 Sep

All but a very few friends spend Saturdays in delightful renewal. They meet for coffee or stroll through the downtown market. Depending upon the season, they bike in the park, visit a museum or artistic display, and wrap the day with a cleverly prepared late supper enhanced by the perfect glass of wine. Of course, most are either childless by choice or empty nesters.

A small, fearless (and incredibly exhausted) group does as I do – we hit ball parks, hockey rinks, and soccer or football fields to watch our progeny. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ll wrap the day with a beverage. But our supper will be early, and probably reheated. And the day? Noisy, chaotic, drama-filled – and every bit as satisfying.

We wake up early, grab breakfast, pack a lunch, gear up, and hit the road. Now, I adore watching my son play ball (quick mommy moment – he had a double, a triple, pitched beautifully, and forced some great plays – okay, I’m done). As much as I enjoy seeing his exhilaration as he hones skills, I confess to major Saturday morning writer jollies eavesdropping on the conversations around me.

The fodder for character description is rich. I’m surrounded by bored siblings, doting grandparents, harried moms, and psycho-relieving-their-glory-days wannabe little leaguers. I know the stereotype has the wannabees as dads, but the women are gaining ground on over-the-top behavior (sheez people, get a grip. Really? They’re kids, not major leaguers. Lighten up).

This past Saturday, I discovered a really weird-cosmic-symmetry between the usual game chatter and the social miasma in the stands.  The umpire’s calls and the general cries of encouragement echoed (or perhaps the reverse is true) the cell phone conversations occurring around me.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying either the cheers/critiques from the stands or the phone conversations made a lot of sense. Really. I found myself reaching for the little WTF sticky notes a friend gave me to mark each page in my notebook. Not even a fiction mastermind could make this *%&! up.

Here’s a sample:

From the stands: “Why is he pitching? Kid couldn’t hit a cow with that bat!”

Cellphone: “I told him to ‘divorce the cow’! But does he listen? No. Calls me a crazy old bat and hangs up.”


From the stands: “Two more, baby, just two more.”

Cellphone: “He’s had two chances. I’m just an idiot for staying with him, but he’s got a job again and the baby’s due in December.”


From the stands: “ok. Ok. OK!”

Cellphone: “Not now. Fine, here’s a five, but bring me back the change. So, okay, where was I. Yeah. Okay, so like I’m walking up to the house and she said ‘I changed my mind’. So, I’m like ‘seriously’? ‘Yeah’, she said, ‘seriously’. So I go ‘Okay’.”


Saturday in suburbia: what’s my poison? Well, as nice as it might someday be to wander through a market on a sunny morning, I’ll take my chances on the ball field for now. It’s writing research even when I’m cheering for my little guy.   What do you do on a Saturday morning for relaxation? And, since writers never truly relax, where does your research take you?


Posted by on September 20, 2011 in character development, Family, friends, Idaho


Tags: , , ,

18 responses to “Saturday in Suburbia: What’s your poison?

  1. johannaharness

    September 20, 2011 at 6:03 AM

    I really enjoyed this post, Liz. I was eavesdropping on some old people last Sunday. Their conversation:

    “He fell right out of his chair and hit his head!”

    “He fell out of his chair?”

    “And hit his head!”

    “How did he fall out of his chair?”

    “I don’t know, but the point is that he hit his head!”

    Two chairs down from another eavesdropper: “Did you hear he hit his head? Fell right out of his chair!”

    My daughter and I walked to the bathroom. She leaned in and whispered, “Fell right out of his chair!”

    And my response, of course: “Hit his head!”

  2. Liz Fredericks

    September 20, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    Thanks Johanna! I’ve read that our stories should be ‘real life’ with all of the boring bits removed. The vignette you shared is a perfect example of how rich daily conversations can be. And – I love the sense of humor you share with your daughter. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship.

  3. Carley Ash

    September 20, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    Johanna, your eavesdrop reminded me of a couple 50-year old guys & their wives I listened to downtown.

    Guy # 1 to wife: Honey, I fell back there and landed on my head.
    Guy # 2: Dude that was your ass.

    Fun blog, Liz.

  4. Janis McCurry

    September 20, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    Fun piece. My Saturdays vary with must-dos and errands since I don’t have time during the week. The occasional matinee worked in is the best. It’s my favorite thing to do on a Saturday, perhaps because it’s rare.

    • Liz Fredericks

      September 20, 2011 at 8:15 AM

      I’m with you on the Saturday afternoon matinee. It’s rare for me too! A little popcorn . . . a good movie . . . lovely.

  5. Meredith Conner

    September 20, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Gawd – don’t you just love people?!! Hysterical stories! You guys (Liz, Johanna and Carley) have to work these into a book somehow!
    Our Saturdays are a mixed bag – outdoor excursions, indoor arts and crafts and sometimes a desperate mommy call to grandma “What are you doing today? Your grandchildren would really love to see you.”

  6. Liz Fredericks

    September 20, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    I love ‘your grandchildren would really love to see you’! Those desperate mommy calls require a book of their own.

  7. Peggy Staggs

    September 20, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    I remember those days. I love little snatches of conversation. No matter how intelligent the conversation hearing only one side can be very funny. Lone women wander the mall all the time talking on cell phones. Unfortunately, it’s a little obvious when I follow them around and eavesdrop.

    • Liz Fredericks

      September 20, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      Let’s follow them around together next time! 😉

  8. Steph

    September 20, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Liz, your cow conversation made me laugh out loud and now all the people I work with are moving away and giving me strange looks. Johanna and Carley, those are priceless.
    “And he hit his head”, would work for so many situations.

    • Liz Fredericks

      September 20, 2011 at 1:34 PM

      Thanks Steph! I think you have to be familiar with ranching/cattle to appreciate the ‘cow’ comment.

  9. Marsha R. West

    September 20, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    OMG, Liz! This is sooo funny. I hope you find a way to include it in a book sometime.

    I’ve played the Thurdsay, Friday, and Saturday cheerleading Mom role for many years (including acting as a sponsor for one of my daughters during middle school), done the competitve gymnastics practices and meets, and the dance practices and performances with trips ultimately to see my grown daughter perform around the country in musicals. So I get where you’re coming from, and your description of Saturday sounds like pure heaven. When the daughters’ stuff stopped ,I was knee deep in school administration, and Saturday was an important catch-up day. (My husband is a lawyer and worked every Saturlday, too.)

    Now, it seems like the sublime Saturdays should be a possibilty. However, my husband still works, and after I go walk, I sit in front of the computer trying to generate new words or edit old ones. I’m definitely putting this on my “To Do” list, LIz, because it sounds wonderful. Maybe someday. 🙂

  10. Liz Fredericks

    September 20, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Thanks for commenting Marsha. You brought memories back for me as well – did the cheerleader things with my oldest. The conversations certainly change with the activities. How exciting it must be to watch your daughter perform in the musicals! Indulge yourself a little – you deserve a sublime Saturday.

  11. P. L. Parker

    September 21, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    My Saturdays used to be that way. Now the kids are grown and I have time to sit in my houserobe and do nothing but whatever I want. I do babysit my granddaughter every Saturday afternoon so I suspect soon, I will be in the kid route again! Enjoyed the post.

  12. Clarissa Southwick

    September 21, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    I must change sports. Our soccer sideline conversations are nothing like this. 🙂 I can’t think of any interesting conversations I’ve heard there. My son did overhear some kids planning a stabbing in the school restroom once. I could have used that in one of my thrillers… Thanks for a great post, Liz!

    • Liz Fredericks

      September 21, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      Wow, Clarissa! Who knew soccer was so edgy – very good thriller fodder. I’ll call you for the next baseball game and maybe we can swap sidelines.


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