Thursday, April 06, 2006

Chit Chat

“Don’t tell me how the clock works, just tell me what time it is.” (Anonymous; today, and to me)

I am Chicago born and Connecticut bred, but somewhere along the way I’ve picked up what my mother refers to as a “midwestern” mentality.

She means a drawl without the accent; a succession of pauses and wayward glances. A mention of the back-story, an interesting tidbit here, an “oh, wouldn’t you just guess it” there. It’s my dad forever appearing in my explanation, himself a talkative ex-hippie from Normal, Illinois.

We both chat up whomever we happen by; security guards, bus drivers, shoppers in the produce line, squeezing limes. Hours go by in a blink. My dad will be sent off for a simple errand (prodded by a last minute realization that we’re out of sour cream) and I’ll watch for his arrival at the back door many, many minutes later, my mother’s impatient nails tapping the crystal of her Tiffany watch, her mantra increasingly louder, “Where the HELL is your father?”

I always reply the same. “He’s probably talking to someone.”

We talk too much for most. Sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow.

It bothers New Yorkers, like my mother. She’s from a land always succinct and always to the point. Time is money and you’re wasting both.

But I see something in it: a conscientiousness, a harkening back to Rockwell and the Fourth of “Joo-ly”--that feeling which permeates every lazy summer day on the porch, sipping lemon selzer and licking frosting off a tri-colored cake, a moment where there's nowhere to go and nowhere to be and that's just fine. A consideration given to the desire to learn as much as possible from all people, and wanting to extend that same courtesy in return.

It does bother some. But it’s not bothersome. And if anyone gets sick of us, then we just talk to each other.

23 comments:

Belle said...

don't bring a thing on sunday, silly!

K said...

You know I have to or else my mother would disown me...

Anonymous said...

This is a sweet post...I like talkative people too, just not when I'm in a hurry.

Oob said...

So far, I've just to hold back my willingness to make actual *gasp* eye contact...much less start a casual conversation. And I've been shocked the few times someone has actually spoken to me in the supermarket or drug store! How do you hang on to this part of yourself in a city so... silent?

AmourArmor said...

My father and I barely have conversations. So, I'm glad you and your father have that much in common.

Jae

Cheetarah1980 said...

I have conversations with strangers in NYC all the time. These conversations tend to take place in bars and involve cute men and shameless flirting (sometimes on both our parts). Does this count?

Sky said...

I am from the south where I believe it is more common - this "talking to strangers" thing. Nevertheless, I still remember one Sunday morning on the train ride from Hartsfield Airport back to the city of Atlanta with my young niece. I was having a grand conversation with the woman across the aisle. My niece nudged me. "Do you KNOW her?" she whispered. I responded that I didn't. "Well, why are you talking to her then?!" came back her reply.

the duke said...

you are an amazing writer. much impressed

ThursdayNext said...

Another lovely post, K. My father and I have a gift for gab ~ its too funny. I can't take him anywhere without him having to speak to others. I just smile and humor him. ;)

Grant said...

There's an art to chit chatting, and it looks like you've perfected it! Keep in practice and you'll be able to befriend anyone as I have definitely noticed. Don't let the New Yorkers make you uncomfortable about doing this.

It's likely because they don't get to practice it very often. *grin* I know, I'm one of them.

Jamie & Belle said...

didn't know about the "bnc" party on tuesday. where is it and how can i get an invite?

Dirk the Feeble said...

They pronounce it "Joo-ly" in New York too, huh?

K said...

Hey Dirk--
No they don't but sometimes I wish they did :)

It's something that my dad says (at my parents' house in Connecticut) as a joke--he thinks it's funny to say stuff like that for some reason just because he spent two years in Texas...

Jeannie said...

I'm a chatterer too. It's a curse and a gift. Canadians seem to be very open to this except the ones from T.O.

Anonymous said...

i love this post. i used to live in normal and now live 15 min. away! and i chat with whoever crosses my path... ive met the most interesting people that way and some even became friends.

WriterOnMyWall said...

I find that some people are just too angry with the world to actually want to talk to other people. They grunt, huff and mutter all the time. But yeah, I like chatting with people... and I like it more if they have a personality ;)

LisaBinDaCity said...

I'm a Southern gal living in NYC and I talk to everyone as well. Drives some people crazy but I don't care.

I learned really cool stuff about Pete Rose on a long cab ride yesterday ;-)

D.T. said...

I think it's beyond great you're able to hold a conversation with your parents. Me? Well, I'm still trying, but they're so different. And so werid.

But good for you, for reaching out! I tell ya, I've always been a bit shy making new friends, but once they get me going, I do not stop talking. Like this one time, we were driving from Tucson to El Paso, Texas, and I talked the entire drive over there, about a dream I had the night before.

Gina said...

What a lovely post. I'm a southern California transplant from South Carolina and I sure do miss those chattin' folk. At the end of the day, what really matters most is the people in our lives. Good on you and your Dad.

wombats8tmybaby said...

u should live in oregon, u need an extra 1/2 hour everywhere u go, just so people can yak.haha nobody here knows sign (ty god)

GeminiWisdom said...

It's funny how if someone talks to you out of the blue, people think you're crazy. I used to have a roommate who had to fill up every minute with talk and it BUGGED THE SHIT OUT OF ME. I wanted to double dog dare her to shut up for 5 seconds just to see what would happen. Would she keel over and die? Would the silence freak her our? Either way, I try to stay away from people who talk to much. I prefer the silence.

t2ed said...

My Pop (also a midwesterner) will one day have talked to everyone in the United States.

There are restaurants I cannot return to because he had a random conversation with the owner.

Lynn said...

It actually makes you a human with a heart and one who cares. My boss and I are butting heads about this very thing; I THINK. I wouldn't really know though since she would never really sit and talk to me like she cares....because she doesn't. The time you put into people is important. It helps you to make connections and brings people closer. From one midwestern girl to another midwestern-ish girl, keep it up, it is what will bring joy into your life.