Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Babble Owned

I once dated a Babbler . She was an engaging woman, certainly, but there were times she simply could not stop talking. Worse and worse, sometimes she would paused and say, “Do you know what I mean?” or “Can’t you agree with that?” and anything other than a simple yes or no would be cut off with another torrent of verbal vomit.
Kids are like this sometimes, and they’ll start a stream of consciousness type monologue that could go on until the child died of dehydration. Interestingly enough, I once saw a five-year-old sit bolt upright in his sleep and rattle off a five-minute soliloquy in a language hitherto unknown to those awake. His mother and I just sat there and listened, neither one of us willing to break the spell, and when he was finished, he went right back to sleep. She told me she had seen this sort of thing before but it was my first trip in, and I wondered how many times in my life I had done that, and if I still did.
Women and children first, as they said on the Titanic, but do not think my own gender is immune. I know a male Babbler, and because I work with him, and because he’s exceedingly useful at times, I have to endure War Stories. This man is a Babbler with an analogy. Whatever problem you were having, he knew someone who had the problem before, and therefore he could walk you through exactly what happened to this person, in frightening detail, in word for word dissertation of each conversation, whether you wanted it or not, and come to some resolution... eventually.
Truth be told, the King Of All Babblers is a man who runs an appliance shop in Valdosta Georgia. The only way to get out of there is for someone else to come in, or for his wife to come get him for lunch, or divine intervention on the magnitude of stopping a hurricane.

Even dogs have canine versions of Babblers but they are known as Barkers. My neighbor had a dog that barked twenty-four seven three sixty five. I bought a white noise CD that played ocean wave sounds throughout the night so I didn’t hear the gunshot at three in the morning. No, he didn’t shoot the dog, but his wife took a shot at him when he came home late right after the dog finally had gone to sleep. She found a good home for him, someone that could spend a little more time training him, no, the dog not the husband, stop that.

The Babbler I dated and I discussed what made her talk so much and she disagreed with me as to the severity of the problem. I wore a wristwatch with a stopwatch function and I told her I was going to time how long she could be silent, and she agreed to go along with this. I put on a CD so she couldn’t claim she was bored, started the watch, and waited. The silence was nice. I liked the idea of just sitting there with her without the burden of having to…”But I have a lot to say”, she declared forty-five seconds into the experiment.

A had a friend whose girlfriend was a Babbler and she took exception whenever he pointed it out when company was over, but if he didn’t the rest of us were prisoners to the natter. She liked to talk during movies, no, the home kind, not the theater, because her husband would have killed her. He was the type of person who would publically and loudly confront movie talkers. “You wanna take that damn baby to the lobby?” he would shout if someone brought a crying infant into a movie. Wow! Talk about results! But against his own girlfriend’s onslaught of run on conversation, he was mostly powerless.

A friend of mine was a Babbler of the First magnitude, and she was made worse when she was nervous. She and I had always gotten along very well but in small doses, and when I went over to her house one day she introduced me to a friend of hers, and I thought we connected. So I talked the Babbler into having the woman over again, with me there, and I told her I wanted to see if there was something happening, and lo, the woman called the Babbler and hinted around at the same thing. Remember the nervous part? The babbler was worried one or the other of us might not like one or the other of us, so she did not stop speaking the entire night. The woman and I traded notes to have a conversation, and eventually I asked her out on a sticky pad and got her number in return.

Thanks to the speaker phone function on my cell I can survive phone calls from a friend of mine who is a Babbler. She will call and launch into conversation without pause. I just put the phone on speaker, lay it down somewhere, and go about my business and wait for her to run out of breath. I’ve eaten entire meals while she was rattling along in the background. I’ll pick the phone up and say something like, “really!’ or “you have got to me kidding me” and it’s like nudging a slinky down the stairs. I forgot about her one day and was in the middle of answering an email when I heard the chatter in the background. I went and retrieved the phone, mentioned I had never heard of anything so weird, and she never missed a beat.

At some level, the Babblers have to know they are babbling. Surely, they have got to think, “Gee, it’s been fifteen minutes since anyone else got a word in edgewise.” But this never happens. They never do stop. I’ve yet to have one ask me what I could do to help. But if one did, I’m certain it would be a while before I heard the end of it.

Take Care,
Mike

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