“Do you expect me to answer your question, or are you just having a conversation with yourself?”
She was wasting her breath, really, and I’m sure she knew it. She was just being polite, my daughter. In her nearly 17 years of life, she has grown to know that her mother is … oh, how does she put it?
One of those.
“You’re just one of those people who talk to themselves,” she admits without excitement, shame or regret. No expression at all. Just matter of fact.
Guess I go by the old saying … one advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening.
I have always subscribed to the notion that as long as I don’t have a complete conversation with myself, it’s perfectly sane to pose the occasional question and make the occasional observation completely out loud and to myself with no expectation of any outside source contributing whatsoever.
For example, as I am reading the weather forecast for the weekend and it says that there is a 30 percent chance of rain, I may ask out loud, “Well, is it going to rain this weekend or not?”
I don’t expect an answer. Only God has one.
When I am getting ready in the morning, look in the mirror, see an old lady looking back at me, and ask, “Where did you come from?” I don’t expect an answer. When I tell her, “I don’t like you. Please go away,” I know full well she’s just going to stare back at me with her 40-something-year-old face. And when I sigh really loudly and say, “When did I start to look so old?” … OK, so I admit I’m only kind of just talking to myself now and I may be fishing for my husband to tell me I don’t look old.
Sometimes it works … sometimes it doesn’t.
I try not to talk to myself in public, but occasionally it just comes out.
“You do not need these,” I said to me the other day in the grocery store when a bag of kettle cooked potato chips jumped off of the grocery store shelves and landed in my hands as I walked by. At least I started out talking to myself.
“Sure you do,” a voice to my left said, and a woman reaching for a bag of Cheetos gave me an affirming nod. “They’re on sale.”
Why, yes. They were on sale, which made me feel even better about putting them in my buggy. That, and the fact she had pulled me out of my talking-to-myself zone, had put me in a pretty good mood. So good, that when I found someone a few rows over talking to themselves, too, I thought I’d pay it forward.
“What does this all mean?” a middle-ageish man said, looking down at a box of laundry detergent, the newfangled kind made for high-efficiency washers. Poor man. He was confused.
“That kind is used a lot in the frontload washing machines,” I offered. “It creates lower suds, I think.” He looked at me, a little confused, perhaps.
“It’s not making sense,” he said.
I had explained it as best I knew how. I don’t even have a frontloading washing machine.
About that time, the man put the detergent back on the shelf and started to walk away.
“Look, you’re obviously going to have to get me someone else to help,” he said. “It’s like you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Well … maybe I don’t but that’s no way to talk to someone. I felt I had to at least say something.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I have a regular washing machine.”
He stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face me. That’s when I noticed he had one of those bluetooth telephone ear pieces in his ear. He had been talking on the telephone the entire time. Not to me.
“I’m so sorry,” I mouthed silently and slinked away with as much pride as an indignant regular washing machine owning squeaky buggy pushing woman who was only trying to help but from now on is going to mind her own business could have.
I’m going to stick to talking to myself. And eating kettle cooked potato chips.
They were on sale.
Email columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.