I’m not a nervous talker, just a talker. I thought you would have guessed that by now, but maybe you’re new here. Have a seat. I’d fix you a cocktail, but I’m on a roll. So just help yourself.
I have this friend Jen, who once felt the need to call attention to my talking problem.
This was about eight years ago, after I’d quit my job to be a full time consultant and have a little more flexibility for the kids.
That first year, business was a tad slow. Not only was my phone not ringing off the hook with clients, but I also no longer had a parade of people wandering by my office, bringing me their news and their gossip and giving me opportunities to exercise my adult-onset-ADD.
It was lonely.
Jen called me one afternoon to chat. I was surprised to hear from her because the two of us had just met for drinks with another friend earlier that week.
As it turns out, that was what the call was about.
“You were talking so much, neither of us could get a word in edgewise,” Jen said. “You totally dominated the conversation.”
Seriously. My friend was sharing her deep, abiding concern that I talk too much.
This was an intervention.
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you.
On second thought, don’t. This is my story. Shush.
The first step is being honest with oneself, right? Looking back, I realized I’d probably approached the evening in question with a little too much enthusiasm for adult time. I didn’t actually remember anything they might have shared during the conversation.
Nevertheless, I was hurt. Jen said she was sorry to have to be the one to break it to me, but these things had to be said.
Since I’m still fuzzy on why these things had to be said, I guess that means I’m not technically in recovery.
Jen’s call stung for a few days, until I went to a brunch with my aunt and cousins and all our kids. It was loud and raucous and lovely. There was a pause in the conversation, and I told my aunt, who also happens to be a counselor, what Jen had told me.
Relaying my story actually took a while, there were plenty of interruptions. I’m far from the talkiest person in this group.
When I finally got it all out, my aunt looked at my sad, little ravaged talking-addict face and burst out laughing.
Not the response I was looking for, but she is a professional.
“I have the perfect support group for you,” she said. “It’s called ‘Anon, anon, anon …”
… You might have to say that out loud to get it. It took me a second.
I guess I shouldn’t have expected sympathy from these guys, full-on talking addicts themselves, all of ’em. At least they appreciated the irony of my expecting it.
Anyhow…I often wonder these days if Jen has had a moment to think about that telephone call in the years since. We don’t talk too much any more.
I know, go figure.
We are still friends, and I wouldn’t mind spending time with her. She has since married and now has small children. The last time I saw her she had two preschool boys who couldn’t stand still long enough for her to return my quick hug.
How our perspectives change from one minute to the next. I wonder if Jen has someone around to whom she can spill her guts when she needs adult time? I’m not above gloating, but I was in her shoes not too long ago.
That realization tends to creep up on you as a young parent: how you’ve started constantly referring to yourself in the third person, how you’ve so frequently used euphemisms for body parts and body functions you no longer remember what the real words are, or how you haven’t used any multisyllabic words in days. It’ll make a person crazy in a very short period of time.
Anyway, I was thinking about this all this afternoon after my annual exam. My doctor is a really cool older guy who started a running routine later on in life (later than I did … wait, did he say 70? Shoot that’s old), so our conversations usually start with something about running, and then we talk about work (mine, not his, although I do know he doesn’t sign up for a lot of running events because he never knows when he’s going to have to deliver a baby).
By the time we get to the awkward stuff, I just keep talking, partially because he’s actually a very good listener and partially because I’d like to forget I’ve got an octogenarian staring at my hoochie.
Sorry, was that you snorting the cocktail out your nose? You really should drink slower.
… This all makes me think maybe I am a nervous talker, in addition to just a plain old talker. In any case, I’m perfectly healthy and don’t really need a check up, and it’s not like I’m going to be pushing out any more babies, so I might as well get all the value I can out of these gyno visits, right?
And I’m fairly certain my doctor isn’t going to stage an intervention. I only see him once a year.
Have another cocktail and vote. You can vote every day and it’ll encourage me to write more. Unless you hate all this. Then vote for me and maybe I’ll stop.