Thursday, May 21, 2015

Elmer's Glue, A Tooth, and Kryptonite for a Competitive Talker

I know, I know. I haven't visited in a while. Sorry about that. I may not have much of a story to tell this morning. I'm not awake yet. It's Monday. I don't appear to be able to get my full measure of sleep because I drove to the high school this morning to return a book and then back home to walk dogs with a friend.

Can I ask you about competitive talking? Have you ever spent time with a competitive talker? That's my walking partner, but in all fairness, I've been a competitive talker myself. Still, she wins every time. She is a prime competitive talker. I'm only an amateur.

I think it's good for me, though, to feel what all these people around me have been feeling from the beginning. When I give up and let her words wash over me, it works the best. I can actually look up into the trees and daydream, sometimes with a tenuous hold of the subject at hand. I try to keep breathing deeply. I try to shut up. I really do.

It's good for me to think about why a person needs this. I have competitive talkers in my family. My brother complains that if we aren't eating, he never gets a word in edgewise. We've gotten used to him not saying much anyway. The rest of us fill in all of the spaces. We jam those spaces full. We talk fast to get things said. We interrupt each other.

My mom, my sister, and I are all competitive talkers. My grandma used to be and my grandpa used to find ways to get people to shut up and listen to him. Though his methods were slick and painless, he too was a competitive talker. Now there are nieces and nephews who are also competitive talkers. My brother doesn't have a prayer.

Is it just a way of being, a family habit like the yelling that happens in an Italian family or the reserve that happens in a Norwegian one? Or does this talking spring from some unfulfilled need?

I think I struggle to be heard. When I was a kid, I didn't feel that anyone took me seriously, that anyone listened to my struggles. But I get the feeling that my friend has other reasons for her ramblings.

I think she might have something more in common with Jay Leno than with me. She may not have been listened to properly as a girl, but I think it's more likely that she has a yen for stand-up comedy with long monologues.

I found her kryptonite though. The other day, I popped a temporary crown just before I was scheduled to meet with her. I had driven half way up the hill, mindless flossing my teeth in the car, when I realized that I had done exactly what the dental technician had told me not to do. I flossed around my new and very temporary crown. Just as she said it would, that tooth popped right off.

Oh, it didn't hurt at first, but after I texted my friend that I was good to go anyway and she showed up for our walk, dogs dancing all around us, I opened my mouth to speak.

And cool air hit my tooth.

I immediately became a mumbler and told her through my cheek that she had to do all of the talking. I tried to stay silent. I really did. It turns out that my friend is one of those people who fills a silence. She got really uncomfortable, ran out of things to say. I tried to stay quiet, but she choked. I ended up grunting just enough so that she could tell me every joke in her repertoire, even ones she knew she'd told me before. I needed to hear those jokes too because with the little mumbling that I did, my face started to hurt like I'd been punched. I couldn't get into the dentist for another hour and a half and I figured that laughter was way better than pergocet. I was right. I kept mumbling through clenched teeth and she talked through all of her jokes. By the time we were done and the dogs had run until they were pooped, I only had twenty minutes to wait before the dentist could squeeze me in and glue my tooth back on.

I forgot to ask if he used super-glue or Elmer's this time. I don't want to know, but I'm not flossing on that upper side, not at all, not even to hear all the jokes I can stand in an hour.

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment