My Secret Vice

“I LIKED it all right, but what was that whole thing at the end?” This is me after most movies, because I just MAY have been talking.

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…

Almost overnight…

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!

2 thoughts on “My Secret Vice

  1. Maybe there are a fixed number of words in each person at birth. The prodigal get them all out early and spend their later years quiet lest they be left without a drowning “help”. Others hoard them (think laconic Maine Yankee) and die with an unspent fortune of words beyond the reach of heirs and attorneys. Steady-Eddie types keep a running count and know when they can afford to utter a few extra on a so-called “luxury rant” without breaking the word bank, especially in their later years in Florida or Arizona.

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