When you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s hard to know when you’re finished. – Tommy Smothers
One of my pet peeves is when someone talks and talks and talks, but really doesn’t say anything. You know what I’m talking about (see what I did there?) It’s a bit fascinating, yet excruciating to watch – and worse to hear. Ms. or Mr. “Gabby” will start telling a story – usually one that has nothing to do with anything and that no one really wants to hear – and then she’s off like a runaway train! You may attempt to respond or interject, but Gabby is having none of that! She’ll interrupt you in her zeal to keep talking about whatever subject is so enthralling to her – usually her dogs, her children, or her experiences with people you don’t even know (or care to know about). Unfortunately and in most cases, these people also chatter at an incredibly loud volume – so you can’t escape their monologue, even when you are across the room. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, with the verbal diarrhea showing no signs of abating, you are ready to tear your ears off and stuff them down Gabby’s throat!
After a long while, if you’re lucky, your senses will numb and the yammering will become a kind of background noise – like the lawnmower your neighbor has been using all afternoon, or the constant sound of traffic if you live in a metropolitan area. It’s only when the talking stops (usually when Gabby has to run to the restroom or when she pauses to take a drink) that you’re suddenly blanketed in a beautiful, comforting silence! It’s a visceral reaction – you tend to take a deep breath, your shoulders relax, and there is this “ahhhhhh” feeling of contentment as the absence of sound sinks in. You only then realize that you’ve been wound as tight as a top as you have attempted to ignore Gabby’s talking for so long.
But the silent bliss never lasts long enough.
I hate to admit it, but I have to confess – I’ve been guilty of talking a blue streak every so often. Usually it happens when I’m in an unfamiliar social situation — like at a party, or at a doctor’s office, or meeting new coworkers. I feel stressed and unsure of myself and, in my attempt to integrate with others and to show them that I’m not as awkward as I feel, I become effusive. It’s mortifying! I can hear the words vomiting out of my mouth and I’m horrified that I’m still talking! My mind is screaming, “Shut the fuck up!” but my mouth refuses to comply.
Does this seem familiar?
You’ll see your victim’s eyes begin to dart from side to side – desperately looking for an escape or distraction to stop the pointless discourse. Occasionally, if they are exceptionally brave or exceedingly polite, your target might try to engage– to grab onto a word or phrase that actually has some potential and to interject their own thoughts – you know, to actually make it a conversation! But that rarely works, as your mind is racing and the words are tumbling out, as if of their own accord. Eventually your quarry’s eyes will glaze over as they realize the futility of treating you like you’re a normal person, capable of actually engaging in dialogue. They will stare blankly while you jabber incessantly for several more long minutes – still too polite to just walk away. At some point, the unlucky soul’s eyes will brighten for a moment — you may think you said something brilliant that perked them up – but they are just excited because they thought of an excuse they can use to extract themselves from your presence – usually something like, “I’m feeling ill,” or “I’m running late for a meeting,” or, “I’m having a heart attack.”
This garrulousness is obviously a problem – just look at the phrases dedicated to describing it!
- She runs off at the mouth
- He likes to hear himself talk
- She is a chatterbox
- He talks a blue streak
- She will talk your ear off
- He talks in circles
- She’ll talk until she is blue in the face
- He will bend your ear
- She’s a chatty Cathy
- He will spill the beans
I’m not sure what the cure would be for such verbosity – or if there is even a cure to be had. It seems to start at childhood (have you heard a five-year-old talk?), it continues into the tween years (is there anything worse than a giggle of 12-year-olds in the back seats of your minivan?). The loquaciousness continues into adulthood, as I can attest, and it seems to linger into old age (if you have an elderly relative that rambles on and on as they tell you the same stories over and over, you know what I mean.)
Perhaps the only cure – for both perpetrator and victim – is death. Maybe then, we can all enjoy some peace and quiet!