Europe, America and Elsewhere: Idiocy spoken here

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Europe, America and Elsewhere: Idiocy spoken here

In New York's Village Voice, for 20 years until 1995, there was a weekly comic strip called Stan Mack's Real Life Funnies in which artist Mack guaranteed all the dialogue was a genuine, overheard conversation. And really, you probably couldn't make them up.

Here are some genuine, overheard comments - not all by Americans I have to note - which I have picked up along the way. I'll add to them on occasion.

"Crime is free." -- Cop in Buenos Aires explaining that if you lost your camera you had to pay about $10 to have them fill out a police report, but if it was stolen it doesn't cost you anything because . . .

"Wait a minute, lemme take you back a bit there. You mean you guys had an empire just like the British?"   -- Fortysomething gentleman stopped in his tracks by his personal guide to the Vatican mentioning "the Holy Roman Empire".

"Could you please check to your left and to your right, then check above and below you for your bags and luggage because we won't be returning back to this place again later after departure at this time now."   -- Tour bus guide in Miami.

"I tell you what I'm gunna do, I'm gunna come right over there right now and cut your head you fuggin bitch, that's what I'm gunna do . . ." [Pause while the other party replies]   "No, I don't think I'm over-reactiing."   -- Elegantly dressed black gentleman's bellowed conversation down a public phone in NYC.

"I was just doing my job."   -- Deputy high school principal in Miami's Dade County whose job prescription apparently includes disarming a young gunman on the school grounds.

"Do you speak English? Oh, thank God. Hardly anyone here does, you know."   -- An encounter in very rural Japan.

"Okay, this is what I want you to do, you sit here and, like, pretend you're drawing in your book and I'm gonna, like, take your picture and you, like, just look like you're drawing and I'll just, like, take it and it'll look like you don't know your picture has been, like, taken. Okay?"   -- Teen queen who didn't know the word "candid", in Florence to a friend who was, oddly enough, drawing in her book at the time.

"Why lie? I need a drink."   -- A bum in Sanata Monica

"You know, I never knew anything about . . . Oh my God, will you look at that! . . . So you're telling me Bonnie's gonna get a divorce? I don't believe it."   -- Elderly matron registering a response, albeit briefly, on entering the Sistine Chapel.

"Is this St Margaret's? No? Oh well, I better take a photo anyway to know where I am."   -- Logic defied by a woman in a tour party outside Siena's magnificent and memorable Duomo, the chief feature of which is that it is the only building in the city made of black and white marble. There is, in fact, no St Margaret's in Siena. 


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Giovanni - Oct 25, 2008

I have one too, heard at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan in front of Michelangelo's Pietà Rondanini, the sculpture that he was working on when he died: "It's not even finished!"

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