And other limericks by Maya Angelou.
I don’t know if I’m actually reviled (much) by too many (that I know about) but I know there’s often a moment when I can sense a feeling of fear or danger or loathing (I have hit that total trifecta on occasion) fall over a person in my presence.
It’s usually after they’ve said something rather innocuous, a trifling piece of palaver, just to sooth the normal jitters that seems to come during a lull in conversation. I’ve never fully understood why people find the need to fill every moment with speech. What happened to just staring off into the distance, mouth closed, maybe experiencing an embracing swell of nothing?
Even when they have nothing to say they fill the air with ums and ahs and likes. Guttural gasps for fear that you may wrestle control of the conversation from them. It’s as if they are life’s monologists and interpolation by others is deemed a mere heckle.
But that doesn’t truly bother me. It’s the state of communication in our time. I’ve come to accept (which is far from liking) it. Because of that I’ve attempted to edit my speech to the bare minimum. Just the facts, Ma’am. Because I fear the listener (which is a term I use very lightly) will implode if sound does not emit from their body for more than three seconds.
I’ve also come to understand that I’ll have two, three, ofttimes more conversations with someone who is also otherwise engaged in a phone call. I guess they figure they have three holes for these tasks so should be using all of them. I am also aware that, due to this overabundance of information, most things heard will fall upon deaf ears. You see, when people are talking they are not listening. So why waste my time and meager vocal ability.
Which is why, I offer, there is so much small or, more to the point, useless conversation in the world. Because people just cannot shut the fuck up. Which is why, I postulate, I am reviled. Because people just cannot shut the fuck up they keep blathering until I have reached the end of my wit.
We’d been sitting in a restaurant, with the same waitress for near upon two hours when, out of nowhere she sneaked up beside me and said,
“Do you have a brother Steve? You look just like him. So I’ve been wondering since you came in if you’re Steve’s brother.”
Maybe her wondering if I’m Steve’s brother was the cause of her messing up two of the three orders.
“I. . .” I begin to answer that I am not a brother or any type of relative to anyone named Steve.
“It’s been bothering me since you sat down. I just can’t get it out of my mind. I’ve been dying to ask you since you walked in but I didn’t want to bother you while you were eating. So I thought I’d wait until you finished because I’ve been dying to know.”
I want you to be aware that, although this was her exact conversation, this was only the first of four such stanzas. I have truncated it so as I do not waste as much of your valuable time as I was made to suffer through.
By the time she wore out her lungs I’d actually forgotten what the question was. Three times. So I was glad she could recover in time to ask, again, if I was the brother of someone named Steve.
I must say that I do not do these things to harm other humans. That is never my intention. My only intention is to entertain. Turns out, not at that moment most of the time, which is why I am so happy to have you around.
“I know I keep going on and on but I’m dying to know. Do you have a brother named Steve?”
“STEVE!” I exclaim! “Yes!” I ratchet up her excitement. “My brother Steve!” I can feel her excitement grow. “Those bastards!” I’m working the pause to cause her a minor setback. For you, my gentle readers. “They said my brother Steve was dead!”
And there, my friends, is the reason for my revulsion. Yes, I was the one who said that awful thing to this innocent woman. But, in my defense, she must shoulder some of the burden. I’m sure if she’d just asked her stupid, but simple, question and left it at that, I would not be reviled and you wouldn’t have wasted five minutes of your life.
The revulsion of me grows word by word.