Confessions of a Talkaholic
“But – “
She held up a hand, like she was directing traffic…Then, reaching inside my window, she laid that same hand briefly on my arm.
“Don’t you think it’s time you asked yourself why you’re always in such a hurry?” she asked.
* * *
My mouth is much like my driving.
Far too often it never slows down enough even to conceive that there might exist such a pastime as CONVERSATION or DIALOG. Indeed, years ago, when my husband related how his French teachers in middle school had christened him Bouche Moteur (Motor Mouth) I had laughed till I hiccupped –smugly, mindbogglingly clueless that I – yes, I! – gave Monsieur Moteur a run for his money.
This, my friends have sweetly and, once, not so sweetly pointed out to me over the years…
“Wait, Jenine, stop what you’re doing and listen to me.”
“No, Jenine, put the iphone away. Come on, you can do it. Put it in your purse. Atta girl, I’m proud of you – of course, it’d be nice if you’d stop scowling.”
“A text can wait until after lunch.”
“Shhh, sweetie. Let Anne speak…”
“Do you always talk this much?”
Well, ouch, yeah, I do indeed always talk this much.
The question is WHY. Why do I talk so much?
Well, for starters, talking is fun.
But you must understand – once upon a time, I was shy. I was so tongue-tied that, if you’d baked and salted my tongue, you could have slathered it with mustard and sold it in an Auntie Anne display case. And, although I learned by high school and definitely by my first job to fake it, I remain shy to this day. Yes, I AM – hard as that may be to believe for those of you who have seen me (and my bouche moteur) in action.
But did you catch that? I used the words “fake it” and “in action”. More often than not, when I chatter – when I perform, if you will – I am attempting to cover up an array of insecurities vast and deep enough to finance the college educations of generations of my therapist’s offspring:
1. You don’t really like me; you’re just pretending
2. I am so boring
3. I am nowhere near as bright as I’d like to think I am; I am fooling myself
4. You’re judging me...and the jury is still out
5. I’m judging me…and I’m convicted for life
6. I might really be as nuts as I sometimes have fun claiming I am
7. Silence will give all of the above away
Wait a minute, though! Didn’t I just say that talking was fun? Feeling vulnerable and insecure and judged is not fun.
Ah, but masking it can be. The art of stringing words together is a skill…and I am a Gold Medalist at it. Most of the time I am, anyway. There are some days I have to take a rest from exercising my tongue…It simply takes too darned much effort to pronounce a syllable, much less reams of them.
Which no doubt has something to do with why I am most happy making my blithe, chattering way, courtesy of a keyboard.
For instance, if you were here in this room right now, over there in the corner watching me, you would say, “Well, I’ll be darned. Jenine can be quiet. I haven’t heard a peep out of her for hours now.”
But, ahem, may I remind you? There is quiet…and there is QUIET. When I write, sure, you don’t hear me talking but, trust me, I am. Watch my fingers moteur, how yackety yack yack yack they fly across the keyboard.
I think that must be why I once took a test and learned that, like so many writer-types and President Obama – or, so the test claims – I am an Extroverted Introvert.
Yet the Introvert may well win out, how about that? Because here is what I have learned, quite painfully, very recently: that, just as speeding in a car can lead to tickets and time in traffic school, so MY WILD ASS BOLT OUT OF HELL BIG THOUGHTLESS MOUTH MAY LAND ME IN TROUBLE.
And I am not merely referring to smart ass, off the cuff, irritable, wounding, moronic cracks you rue the moment, toad-like, they hop out of your mouth. I have populated planets of toads in my 50-some years and spent decades of hours apologizing/making amends for them.