Did I Talk Too Much?
Nicholas–It’s a family tradition of Bob‘s and mine that when we leave a social gathering and get in the car, I say, “Did I talk too much?”
I asked him again today after we attended our nephew Franklin Payne’s high school graduation (summa cum laude, salutatorian at Wake Early College of Health and Sciences!) Afterwards, proud aunt and uncle had lunch with Franklin’s proud parents Harry and Ruth. And I regaled them with lots of stories.
I didn’t feel bad about this (as I so often have in other situations.) This time I asked Bob the usual question–“Did I talk too much?”–mainly because it’s a tradition and indeed I had had quite a lot to say. He said, as always, that no, I did not talk too much. My flow of chat had been, he said, “about average.” That’s average for me, not for anyone else.
You once remarked, Nicholas, in a tone of mild wonderment, that I had begun sessions with you by talking as much as fifteen minutes without pause. Fifteen minutes is easy. It’s nothing. The first time I ever taught a day-long class I immediately abandoned my lesson plan and talked for six hours (with a lunch break.)
Talking Until I’m Light-headed
Once after a brunch date in my single years, a housemate asked if I’d had a good time and I said, “Yes, he was so interesting I talked until I was dizzy.” This was not an exaggeration. But maybe it was just the coffee.
Once in a cardiologist’s office I had one of those stress tests that involves running on a treadmill. The doc cranked the angle of the machine up high as it would go. I heard the nurse murmur something on the order of: Wow, she’s really going! And the doctor said, “Yes–and she’s still talking.”
I think of it–my spiel of anecdote–as yard goods, unfurling from an apparently endless roll.
Why do I do this?
I do know I find it fun. Also, once I start it’s seriously hard to stop. (Could this possibly be related to my OCD?)
To Get Attention Or Avoid It?
I’m really rather introverted–is that the reason why I do all this talking? in order to hide out in a storm of stories?
It’s almost always stories. I’m pretty sparing with information and opinions. In fact, I’m rather quiet until the story machine roars into action. Certainly a good supply of stories fits with my line of work. But lots of quiet people write. Maybe I’d have published more books by now if I’d said less. I doubt that, though.
I used to leave a get-together and think, “Oh, no, I did it again.” I’m glad to say I rarely feel that way these days. I seem to have made peace with the habit, or compulsion, whatever it is. Not beating up on myself about it allows me to look at it calmly and feel curious.
From whence cometh this rolling wave of yard goods?
I do usually feel some responsibility to keep a party going. That’s a tradition of the family I grew up in.
Will Someone Please Stop Me?
And when someone else arrives in a group who wants to take a turn at it, I happily yield, sometimes with a feeling of relief.
The first time my father went skiing, he was in his fifties and he signed up for a lesson. He took off on his first run down the mountain and realized he didn’t know how to slow down or stop. So he yelled to the instructor, “Tackle me.”. I know that feeling.
And, once, Nicholas, I interviewed you for a magazine article–I think it was for Cosmopolitan on the subject of decision-making. I asked you one question and you talked and talked and talked and then said, “For God’s sake, interrupt me.” I know that feeling too.
Dreams of Glory?
I don’t tend to feel hungry for attention, not that I’m aware of. Dealing with attention is a lot of work. In fact, my dream of writerly fame is pretty low-key. No paparazzi at all. Instead two people at another table in a restaurant notice me and one says,”Isn’t that–” The other says, “Yes, and let’s leave her alone.”
The Fun of It
Today, I know I was in high spirits.
It was nice to be together with my people when recently we’ve spent more than a year apart. And I was excited for Franklin, who is so bright and successful.
It was a fun day. (Is this whole post merely a way of bragging on Franklin? My own education never required any Latin descriptors. He’s my last nephew to launch and is doing it with such style.)
So Why Wonder about the Jabber?
I feel I’ll know something useful about myself and my writing process and place in the world, if I ever understand why I would run on a treadmill telling stories to a cardiologist I’d never seen before in my life.
I welcome enlightenment on this subject.
Tags: anecdote, chat, compulsion, Franklin Payne, get attention, hard to stop, hungry for attention, introverted, keep a party going, quiet people write, spiel, still talking, stop me, talk, talked until I was dizzy, telling stories, Wake Early College, well of stories, why do I do this?, writing process
Hungry for attention: OMG,I recognized my dear friend’s compulsion while reading your
Chatter. He seems to stop for a breath
Then say, “I won’t bore you anymore…”
But…then continues so it’s impossible for anyone else to enter the conversation. Or should I say, lecture?
He must be aware that he’s doing it but be unable to stop? It’s annoying and
I usually start letting my mind
Do you ever get a word in with him, Joyce? For him to still be your dear friend, he must have some really good qualities as well.
A good story about your storytelling chatter. It’s always entertaining and ussually informative to me about details of your life I’d not heard before. And you’re a professional storyteller, a mighty good one at that. Navigating the ever shrinking possibilities for publication would likely be a story of interest to other folks – non-writers don’t have a clue about the gauntlet y’all writers face. So keep on talkin’ and writin’ your stories, and I’ll keep on listenin’ and readin’. And no, you didn’t talk too much at our good lunch with Harry and Ruth – I doubt that entered their minds, and it felt so good to be spending time with them around such a momentous occasion. Their 3 sons are amazing people and scholars, whose stories I follow with warm avuncular interest. bob
Thanks for all of this, Bob. Though you know I’ll likely go on asking you the question.
Yes, by the end of the second paragraph I was convinced that Franklin is “bright and successful.” Continuing a family tradition was what I actually thought. also worthy of your pride.
Many thanks, Al. You are kind.
a very young child in 1940’s and early 1950’s had “bad” words children were not allowed to say – and a long list of substitutes: peepee, nasty, and “story” which before “Alt-” facts meant to tell lies (“Don’t you tell me no story”). In my early childhood context, the alternative was a whipping, which me and my younger siblings never actually figured out to avoid. In family system(s) one (girl) was assigned the role of “talker” from earliest age – my 1952 (second) sister we called Bonnie, born early January. When we gather after seventy years, we will have about seven decades of stories to re-tell.
Interesting that the talker role was given to one, Bob. And yes, retelling of stories is an important part of the process.
I have no advice – I share your affliction. Although I know better than to ask “Did I talk too much?” because the answer would always be “YES!!” I tell Jim that he thinks I talk too much because he wants to hold the floor….lol My BIL, the college professor, never knows when to quit and lately, since he and I do not share the same opinions on politics….I have wanted to tell him to button it!
I am aware, though, that I sometimes monopolize a conversation, especially when there is a lull. I need to check myself!
Or we could both just let it rip, kenju!(Except when political differences are involved, because that never leads anywhere good.)
I share that affliction. I know better than to ask ” did I talk too much” because the answer would always be yes. I have been trying not to do that lately, without much success. But I went to a neighborhood picnic last night and I knew so few people that I sat and tried to look pleasant, but few spoke to me. I don’t do well in crowds where I know only a few people. I resisted the urge to mingle – it was too hot to move around. So perhaps, for teh first time in my life, I spoke so little that those who knew me would not believe it.
To sit and try to look pleasant sounds like a fairly restful strategy, kenju. Reminds me of a class I taught where one person never spoke. I worked and worked to try to get her involved. At the end of the THREE DAYS!, she said that this class had been for her an exercise in being quiet, that she usually talked all the time and she wanted to have an experience of not doing that. If she’d told me at the start, I’d have let her be.
No enlightenment, Peggy, just a lot of fellow feeling. Husband David gets that query from me very often as well. And: “did I do something terribly off-kilter??” (Interesting that I don’t seem to know myself). But I too am making more peace with myself. Shame attacks less common, and as a dear therapist of mine pointed out “Everyone has to be some way. . .”
Thanks for the fellow feeling, Amey. I consider adding the off-kilter matter to my own questioning. But then I wonder: do men ever ask whether they talked too much? or not enough? I’m betting that that doesn’t happen.
I don’t remember ever hearing a man ask about that. And at my age, I’ve spoken to a lot of men over the years!
This realization may allow me to never concern myself with the question again.
Whatever the reason, please just keep going!
No doubt I will, Joe. Many thanks for this encouragement!
Congratulations on your nephew’s graduation. So lovely to see them off to a good start! I surely share this storytelling, probably over-talking, thing with you! Don’t know the why of it, but I know that my subjective experience of it is. When I’m doing it, my mind is being flooded by associations and stories that actually interest and energize me. When I’m alone I tell stories to myself to entertain myself, to find the meaning, the humor, the theme, the heart of the thing. I think it is a way of giving structure to life. So often when I am going through something absurd, annoying, stressful, happy–all kind of things–I will be thinking “This will make a good story someday.” Doing this helps me notice the details, the roles, the connections, the humor of what is going on at the time it is happening. And I do believe that what matters about your life is not so much what happens, but how you tell the story of what happens–especially how you tell it to yourself. It seems perfectly right that you should be a storyteller. Sure, there’s a social component of how it fits into any particular event and how much other people will take of it, but given that you’re are a storyteller in work and life I think you should embrace it as a internal part of who you are and how you understand life!
Thanks for your story-telling encouragement, Lee. I do agree that stories in any medium are a way to structure life, to figure out what happened and seize upon the meaning. And I am also energized by my own chattiness. So with these things in mind, no doubt I’ll carry on (as if I were capable of stopping, which I don’t think I am.)
you sure write well, Lee, and you talk good too, bob