A Man of Few Words
So, anyone who knows me understands that I am a person who would charitably be described as ‘garrulous’. My defense is that my verbosity is not tuned necessarily to the mundane or trivial. I am what my children describe as a ‘people collector’, which translates to the fact that I truly enjoy making new friends and acquaintances. To do so generally requires one to have a conversation, doesn’t it? Even in today’s world of electronic ‘talk’, how else does one come to know another? I still enjoy the human contact, the reading of expressions, body language, twitches and the like. It is part of my natural essence, my being, something that I cannot alter. It is simply who I am and I embrace it.
I welcome discussions on virtually any topic as well as telling the stories of a lifetime and hearing those of another. I read and am enthralled by a multitude of subjects, though I am fluent in few. Because of this the kids call me a ‘polymathic autodidact’. Look it up. I can be long-winded and loquacious, but enjoy the give and take of human interaction. Talking is the way I connect with others. Always it has been so. Do I talk too much? Arguably. But it is who I am, what I do. Apologies to anyone offended.
What strikes me about this personality trait is that it was passed on to a couple of our kids, but not to the degree it is in me. The really puzzling thing about genetics is that virtually none of my chattiness was passed on to our son. None, at least as I’ve been able to discern over his 26 years. In his ‘defense’, he was the youngest of four and the sole boy in the brood. Perhaps he never got the chance to put in his view with his three older sisters, but I don’t believe that was it. He has simply been more to himself, taciturn, much like my youngest brother who was the ‘baby’ of six with a 14 year spread from beginning to end.
Then I think sometimes that perhaps our son is different when he is with friends and co-workers. This must be true to some extent as he has many pals from his early years and college as well. He has been regarded as a leader from his youngest days (yes, I’m boasting a bit), though a quiet one. I’m unable to reconcile all of this each time the memory rears up of a telephone call at dinnertime when he was a junior in high school. I had prepared a health, fresh dinner for the two of us, ready when he arrived home from basketball practice. We sat at the table and I went through my daily attempt at finding out about his day. I had already come to terms with the difference in communication from our daughters and him, but when the girls had all gone away to college and beyond, the silence was maddening at times. For example, when I would ask how his day was, the answer was “Fine”. That’s it. Always. When I attempted a deeper dive such as, “So, anything unusual in your classes today?”, invariably the reply would be, “Not really.” No matter my efforts, those were the responses or variants thereof.
This particular night, however, lives forever in my head as it was illustrative of what I describe. He had taken his plate to the sink to rinse and place in the dishwasher while I still wrestled with the remnants of the repast when the house telephone, mounted on the wall by the sink, burst through the silence. He couldn’t ignore as he usually did, so he grabbed the receiver. The following is what I heard, “Lo. Yuh. K. Bye.” He hung up. It couldn’t have been ten seconds, no chance. I turned and asked him, “What was that?” He responded, “What?” to which I retorted, “That call. What was that? It wasn’t a conversation. Four grunts. What did you accomplish with four grunts?” He innocently described his call with his friend David and went on to portray some complicated plans with his pals for the upcoming Friday evening. I was incredulous, mouth hanging open. I challenged him as to how he could have done all of that with four grunts. He just laughed and went up to do his homework. Quietly.