Compulsive Talkers

Recently Kish and I went to a show at Schiller Park.  We positioned our lawn chairs at the best available spot, sat down to wait for the show to begin, and then endured about 25 minutes of the woman sitting directly in front of us talking, non-stop and loudly, to the woman sitting to her left.  We weren’t eavesdropping, either — anyone who was sitting within a 15-foot radius couldn’t avoid overhearing her monologue.

Person Annoyed by Others TalkingWhat was she talking about?  It was a rambling story about driving somewhere, with people the woman to the left clearly didn’t know, because the talker had to keep explaining who was who.  Since we came in mid-gab, we don’t know how the story began.  All we know is that the woman to the left said not one word, while the talker went on, and on, and on, telling a story with no apparent point or purpose.  Only the start of the show finally, blessedly, shut her up.

What, exactly, makes some people talk too much?  It’s hard to understand for those of us who don’t.  As we walked home and considered the astonishing torrent of blather, Kish and I concluded that the woman must have been either stupid, for thinking that her pointless tale would have been of interest to anyone, or totally clueless, for not recognizing that she was boring the snot out of the woman she was talking to — or maybe both.

Interestingly, psychologists can’t seem to put their finger on exactly what causes compulsive talking.  Constant chatter is one of the recognized symptoms of people who have ADHD.  Some compulsive talkers are manic.  Breathless yakking also is associated with anxiety disorders, where people simply can’t deal with companionable silence and feel the urge to talk, talk, talk to avoid any gaps in the conversation.   Some articles link compulsive talking with narcissism and power relationships, where the talker believes their conversation must be intrinsically fascinating and keeps talking as a means of maintaining control.  And there is even a recognized mental condition, called logorrhea, in which people talk constantly and, often, incoherently.

Whatever the psychological cause might be, exposure to a compulsive talker is a useful exercise, because it makes you reflect on your own speech patterns and tendencies.  Our experience with the nonstop chatterbox reminded us that it’s important to shut up, take a breath, and listen to what others have to say every once in a while.

Umbrella Upgrade

When you know you’ve got important house guests in your future, it can motivate you to finally do some stuff around the house that you’ve been meaning to do for a while.  In our case, that meant paying some attention to the backyard.  We picked up some brightly colored cushions for the patio furniture and replaced our faded and cracked Cinzano umbrella — which had served us nobly for two and a half years — with a bright red Campari umbrella.  The combination of the cushions and the umbrella bring a lot more color to the back yard.

To my knowledge I’ve never sampled either Cinzano or Campari, but I do like their umbrellas.

Basement Reboot 

We’ve got guests coming for a visit later this summer, and the first part of our Glorious Fourth was devoted to projects related to the visit — first, figuring out what we need to do to spruce up the house and grounds between now and then to properly welcome our guests, and second, actually tackling one of the projects.  

I’m a big believer in starting with the worst project first, so things get easier as you make progress on your to-do list.  That meant starting today with the basement — the municipal landfill of every household, where every item of currently unused stuff eventually finds a home.  If you don’t stay on top of the basement, it inevitably ends up as a horror show.  So today we threw out, cleaned, organized, and put away . . . and the basement ended up like this.  And I only smacked my head against low beams and pipes about five times, too.

So the basement is done, and we can scratch one entry off the task list.  We may not voluntarily take our guests to the basement, but if they turn out to be aficionados of old basements and want to see it, at least it won’t be a horrible embarrassment.  Now, it’s time to crack open a beer.

Fatherly Advice

Tomorrow is Father’s Day.  All across America, fathers will be receiving cologne, ties, and power tools, and everyone else will be thinking about the sage advice and guidance that they received from their own dear Dads.

e04aaedc09e253b1f93d41943aee090eMy Dad wasn’t much for giving pointed advice about your life, however.  In fact, you could say he had a decidedly laissez-faire attitude about how and what people were doing.  Whenever he heard about somebody doing something that suggested that they were really going off the rails, Dad typically would shrug and mutter something about people needing to “do their own thing” and “find their niche.”  These phrases, in fact, were heard so often that they became part of the Webner family lexicon.  I think Dad realized that he didn’t have all the answers, and he wasn’t going to impose his views on somebody else — who probably wouldn’t have appreciated his attempt to steer the course of their life, anyway.

And you know what?  Nine times out of ten, the person who was struggling figured things out for themselves, through a little trial and error, and in the meantime the family happily missed out on the drama and slamming doors and yelling and hard feelings that sometimes can be the result of a little aggressive parenting.

As I sit here, I realize that I also haven’t really offered much in the way of Father Knows Best-type wisdom, either.  Sure, I instructed the boys not to stick their fingers into electrical sockets and told them that littering was wrong, but beyond those basics the only thing hard and fast rule I remember imposing was that if you wanted to play on a sports team, you had to stick it out and play to the end of the season, to be fair to your teammates and your coaches.   I suppose you could draw some deep life lessons from that, if you tried real hard, but of course the rule wasn’t meant to convey deep life lessons — just to establish an understanding of the consequences of decisions about childhood things like Little League and the Nazarene basketball league.

So where do you go if you really want to get some fatherly advice?  That’s simple:  Homer Simpson.  Here’s an example:  “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

Hey, maybe getting fatherly advice isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, after all.