Just a little of course, but about almost anything: the popcorn I spilled when I fumbled the giant-sized tub that’s as big as your chest, or the raw carrots I slipped into my back pocket that were now digging painfully into my backside. Or maybe I was asking my friend beside me, “IS THAT THE GUY? Isn’t that the same guy from the beginning?”
That person generally just stares straight ahead, like a man waiting for a bus. This talking when I shouldn’t be talking: it’s been a problem for me in life.
I talked to my best friend all through worship services when I was 12. Who wouldn’t talk, with the whole parade of humanity passing by? How funny they all looked to me!
But then everything is funny when you’re 12. And I just wanted to share the joke.
This ‘sharing’ started when I was in Second Grade at the nun’s school where I whispered so much in class that one day Sister Mary Suffering went red in the face, shouted that I was expelled and put me out, all alone to wait for my mother, at the remote edge of the convent property.
There I stood by the box of textbooks she also put out with me, because in Catholic school you have to buy your books. When you go, the books go.
“What will I do NOW?” I’m too little to get a job!” That was my first thought standing out there as the El screeched by overhead.
My second thought: “Mom is going to lift Sister Mary Suffering clean off the ground for this.” And so she did, or almost did.
My mother was 50. I was seven. And poor Sister Mary Suffering was barely 20, with scant experience in the classroom.
“You EXPEL a child for talking?” Mo=m bit each word hard as it left her mouth. “Don’t you know that a child who is talking is a child who is bored?” And so on.
Poor Sister Suffering; she wasn’t our teacher anymore after that. We were told she had gone away for a rest somewhere.
So I was off the hook for that crime anyway.
It was different later when I got all those detentions for whispering in 7th grade: detentions and punishments like having to write “I will not talk in class” ten thousand times. And one memorable demerit which made me feel so ashamed.
Luckily, I grew up. I became a teacher myself and so got to talk for a living. Hurrah!
Then I turned to writing and tending babies and things got quiet for a while – until I began getting asked to give funny speeches and even workshops.
More talking! Double Hurrah! It was such fun making people laugh. Seeing them come alive like that.
I did this for three decades, and then…
I went quiet.
I’m quiet still.
Used to be, in book groups or at community board meetings I talked my head off. Now I say hardly a word.
It’s not that that I’m sleepy, or that that I have no ideas. It’s certainly not that I’m uninterested in what’s being said.
It’s just that all these year in, I find I would rather hear what others have to say than talk myself.
All these years of being in “Transmit,” I am finally, gratefully, on “Receive.”
Respite for all!