Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Speak No Evil

When I was little, I was so shy, I would burst into tears at the drop of a hat.

A stranger speaking to me on the street? Tears.

An adult asking my name? Tears.

Swimming class? Tears.

Having to go door to door selling stuff for school / youth group / assorted scouting organizations? Fine, as long as no one was home. If, horror of horrors, someone answered the door? Tears.

Oh yeah. I was a fuuuunnn child.

I was at the store last year, and someone pushed a tiny kindergarten sized scout my way. For once, I wasn't the one who burst into tears. I did, however, buy eighty-eleven boxes of cookies. Cookies I threw out as soon as I was out of sight. Have you seen the list of hydrogenated oils in those? That almost drove me to tears, right there.

I don't cry anymore, thank goodness. Maybe twice a year, at stupid commercials of all things. But that doesn't mean chatting goes well for me. It's usually something like this:

Other person: "Talking. Talking. Talking."

My brain: (following conversation, nodding, enjoying) Gosh, what a great person. I'm so glad we're having this conversation. We don't have enough time to catch up... Uh oh, they're about to pause for a breath. At which point, I will be required to make some sort of response that indicates I get what they're saying. Something innocuous, but encouraging.

(Hyperventilating) Think of something. Quick. Hurry. Hurry! THINK! Say anything! ANYTHING!!!

Me: "Blurt, blurt blurt blurt. Blurt. blurtttt. t. tt."

My brain: Ohh nooooo. Anything but that, I meant. Now look what you've done.

Other person: Blinking at me in confusion, trying to translate my blurt into something coherent. Nope. Still not computing. ... "Um..." Blink.

My brain: I know what will make things better. I'll explain my answer. In great detail. So they will see that I really meant to contribute something useful. Intelligent. Kind and witty. Say something. Quick. Hurry. Clarify! Clar-i-fy! Ye gods, woman, THINK! Say something! Speak, damn you, SPEAK!!!

Me: "Blurtimus blurtolaneous blurtesphere. Blurt. Blurt, blurt." (hand gestures) "Blurt." (giggle nervously).

My brain: Ohh. Nooooo. Not that, either. And you know you passed the public giggle age two decades ago.

Other person: Blink. Blink. Suddenly remembering they have a car and can leave anytime they want. Like, say, now.

My brain: Gosh. That went well. I think I'm getting the hang of this conversating thing.

Me: Sigh.


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