In early America, neighbors eavesdropped
from other rooms, behind the shed, from a bed.
Now, the surveillance is also electronic
from devices, lovers (or friends platonic),
scammers and crooks hear what you say—
the powers-that-be, also may—
hear all. Who knows
where conversations go?
Kim is hosting dVerse, and she has asked us to use the word eavesdrop in a quadrille. My dissertation/first book was on marital discord in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Pennsylvania. Court papers and divorce depositions often included the testimony of neighbors or people living in or visiting the household. And yes, sometimes listening to a sexual encounter while lying in the same bed.
Brilliantly and eloquently penned with engaging imagery. You never know who might hear what you say.
I’m also surprised and then not surprised at this “And yes, sometimes listening to a sexual encounter while lying in the same bed” being included as a testimony.
Sometimes I wonder if anything we say is private, Merril. Nicely done!
Thank you, Jill. I know what you mean.
I don’t remember the product Derek and I were discussing, but I’d yet to search it online before it popped up in an ad on my email sidebar! That freaked me out. I don’t have my microphone turned on…at least it’s not supposed to be. 😦
It is freaky and scary. Siri sometimes responds to NPR. I guess she’s a fan of All Things Considered and Fresh Air. 😏
Wow, your book sounds fascinating. (I would love to read it. Is it for sale somewhere I can buy it?) and your poem reminded me of a couple of embarrassing things I’ve overheard over the years and wished I hadn’t)
Thank you so much, Claudia! It’s funny and yes, sometimes cringeworthy what we overhear, isn’t it. I know you’ve written many poems about things you’ve overheard. I like when you hear just a sentence or two as someone walks by talking to someone else. 😀. It’s called Breaking the Bonds: Marital Discord in Pennsylvania, 1730-1830. It might be available in your library, but here’s the Amazon link. https://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Bonds-Pennsylvania-1730-1830-Experience-dp-0814779344/dp/0814779344/ref=mt_other?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=
Oh good, thank you, I’ll look it up!
It is now a secret to be kept and sold. I appreciate the background information about marital discord in the 18th & 19th century. That must have been something else, listening to the sexual encounter from the same bed.
Thank you, Grace. Yes, you’re right about the intel being bought and sold now.
Yes, lots of interesting stuff in those depositions. 😏
Neighbor turning against neighbor and allying with the power players is evil personified, as if you can’t feel safe in your own home, where can you? I’m sure that’s how they were empowered to institutionalize so many women who got “uppity” or worse, burnt at the stake 😦
Thank you, yes.
Women and women thought to be witches could definitely have suffered from people repeating gossip about them. But men suffered from scandals, too. Think of all the political scandals .
Wonderfully done, Merril. Eavesdropping seems to have become way too easy nowadays, hasn’t it?
Listening to a sexual encouter from the same bed! Whoa…
Thank you very much. Yes, you’re right about eavesdropping now. But I guess being ruined by scandal was always a thing. And yes, from the same bed. I suspect people who long for the “good old days” don’t know much about history. 😏
People have lived for scandal for ages, haven’t they?
Good ole days indeed… Ummm… LOTS of stuff I would not want to experience!
I know! I like running water, indoor plumbing, heat, a/c, and vaccines. Also that I’ve received an education, can vote (hopefully), and on and on. And I have to say, I love streaming movies and shows. 😀
All of the above. and then some! And yes, how else would I learn about foreign programmes and movies? 😉
From the same bed?! WTH. This is wonderful.
Thank you! Hahaha. Yes, I’d read a deposition like Susie and I were sleeping in the same bed (people, even sometimes strangers sharing a bed was common), and then so and so came and got into the bed and from the sound and actions I knew they were having a sexual connection. . .But for some reason, they never said anything at the time!😀 And it’s not like they were in a huge king size bed.
Good grief. If you put that in a novel I don’t know if your readers would believe it!
Well, if I ever write a novel set in that time and place, they’ll have to. 😏
Hehe. Sounds entertaining!
This is incredibly potent, Merril! 💝 I loved learning about the history and background of marital discord in the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century. It helped me understand the context and gosh .. listening to something as private as a sexual encounter is equivalent to stealing from a neighbours backyard (if you know what I mean) 🙂
Thanks so much, Sanaa. They had a different sense of personal space. I imagine they heard lots of personal sounds with many people living in close quarters.
Yes, most probably 🙂
Too true to be comfortable Merril.
Yes, unfortunately. Thanks, Rob.
Nicely done, and point well made. The ‘electronic – ‘friends platonic’ is a great rhyme. (I hope they’re bored to tears when they listen in to my life.)
Thank you so much, Petter. Yes, I hope they’re bored to tears with my life, too.
You got it right… there is no avoiding eavesdropping in the digital world.. Big Brother is listening!
Yes, very true. Thanks, Dwight.
So true and so disturbing, this is the world we live in. Wonderful write Merril.
Thank you so much, Rene!
You’re so welcome Merril.
This is so very true: seems you only have to talk about something these days and you get a Google Ad popping up about it. Electronic walls have ears!
Very true! Sigh. Thanks, Ingrid.
You chose the perfect image to illustrate your quadrille, Merril, and such an intriguing subject to write about in your dissertation/first book. You must have had fun doing the research for it! I’m not sure what’s worse – physical or electronic eavesdropping. No wonder there is so much paranoia. Do animals behave like this?
Thank you very much, Kim. I did have fun with the research–not all of it, of course, but there were papers I found that got passed around the archives, and I used to share some of the stories with friends. 😀
I don’t animals are that petty–unless it concerns food or comfort.
Eavesdropping, electronic devices – they are favorites of some people. Mostly those who are in power.
Yes, indeed. Thank you.
As Ingrid notes, “electronic walls have ears.” That’s why I use private browsing for donations and such.
Another “on point” verse, Merril.
Some writers have admitted eavesdropping to achieve authentic dialogue. Not that I’ve ever done that – tee hee!
Thank you very much, Marian. When we were going out more, I did lots of eavesdropping on conversations. 😀
Great fun beautifully composed
Thank you so much, Derrick!
Ah yes…..the times have changed and the sheer amount of eavesdropping has increased amazingly. Kind of frightening if you stop to think about it. Okay, I’m not stopping….:)
Thanks, Lillian. Yes, it’s best not to stop. 😏
Good to keep in mind! Your rhyme adds a sense of fun.
Thank you very much!
Careful what you say….Siri is listening, Alexa is listening, Echo is listening, and who knows what your computer is picking up!!
So true! Thank you, Beverly!
It is indeed a scary time we live in.
Yes, it is, and getting scarier by the minute.
Oh… and we gladly install devices that eavesdrop on what we are saying…
excellent roundup of ‘the listeners’ and that pithy final question leaves us pondering.
Thank you very much, Laura.
Then there were party telephone lines added to the mix for eavesdropping,
Yes, that must have been strange.
It was definitely the embodiment of “That’s how rumors get started”!
My, even the bedroom was no sanctuary! Mind blowing to see the world is now even more scandalous and intrusive. Civilization is a fantasy.
So true. Thanks, Rose.
An interesting form of poetry to bring up a good point. Are we ever truly “alone”? These days are worse than generations earlier, since our computers seem to know our every desire.
Very true. Thank you, Pam–though worse might be relative. If you lived in a small village in centuries past with nowhere to go, and your neighbors started spreading rumors about you . . .
True, true. By the way did you hear the rumor on Word Press that… Ha, just kidding.
Yeah.. the old days… the now days.. and you have exposed the snoops very well.
Seems that although much has changed, much remains the same.
That’s very true. Thanks, Resa!
Excellent poem, Merril! Nothing is private in this day and age. Alexa, Echo, Siri, our phones, tv’s, iPads, wireless security systems —- all listening. Facebook, Google and Gmail are tracking. The means have changed, but the treacherous game of snooping remains. I’d love to read your book! What an interesting topic!
Thank you so much for your kind comment!