Sometimes I have this problem with talking. I’m always quiet around new people, but sometimes I honestly just can’t open my mouth to form words. I can talk freely with people I know. There’s no shortage of dumb things coming out of my mouth then. I’m loud, silly, will say just about anything.
But put me in a group of people I don’t know… sometimes I can say enough to look normal. More often than not, I can’t think of anything to say at all. I want to speak. I want to think of something to say that will interest people. I hear them talking, I listen. My husband talks, and everyone thinks he’s funny. I try so hard to think of something to say. But nothing comes to me.
Everything I think of saying just sounds self-centered. Some story that focuses on me. I try to think of things to say in response to what other people say. Sometimes I can. And sometimes my mind goes completely blank, and I can’t remember anything that happened in my life, anything that connects to what other people are saying, anything to add to my husband’s stories.
It’s like I’ve been struck dumb. It’s a problem with both my mind and my mouth. The two function fine on their own. I think about other things. I listen and process. And, of course, I can eat. We were at a dinner party last night, hosted by the orchestra manager for this Christmas show we’re playing, and I shoveled the home-made chili and warm roll into my mouth no problem. I eat fast, and when combined with not talking, that means that I finish my food well before anyone else.
Last night was no exception. I shoveled. Then I felt like a pig and was embarrassed, and that made it even harder to talk. I opened my mouth to ask where the bathroom was, but only because if I hadn’t, I would have had some problems. Then my husband started talking about airports, and I was able to add a wee bit more. But my mind and mouth were still at odds with each other. They wouldn’t cooperate to help me say something interesting.
They came back together when Slinky was brought out of her tank. Slinky is a five-foot-long albino corn snake with red eyes, the pet of our dinner party host. And for some reason, animals always get me talking. Once Slinky was out and we were holding her and petting her, I was back to normal. Not gabbing like a loud-mouthed idiot like I do when I’m with my closest friends and family, but talking. Being a semi-normal person again.
They put Slinky in the Christmas tree. I can honestly say I’ve never been to a party where a snake was put in a Christmas tree. She slid across the branches slowly, looking a little bit confused because, according to our host, she’d never been in a fake tree before. We all wondered if the lights in the tree were warm enough to attract her. We talked about how odd it was that there was a snake in a Christmas tree.
Then Slinky was put away, and I had to find something new to make me talk. Luckily, the host and I had something in common that we were able to talk about. Cold feet. Ice blocks attached to our ankles. It came up because I was bundled in my coat next to their fireplace, and they asked if I was still cold. I told them I was fine, toasty warm, but that my feet were numb. That topic entertained us for about three minutes. I can’t remember what we talked about after that, but Slinky and cold feet got my mind and mouth on the same page again, and I was able to say enough for the rest of the evening to not feel like a weirdo.
After that we played a concert. Then we went out with the conductor and what we thought would be other orchestra members. No dice. But pretty much the entire chorus came along. Instrumentalists and vocalists have music in common, of course, but beyond that we are completely different. Vocalists are bizarro creatures who spontaneously burst into song while at restaurants after concerts. Instrumentalists don’t whip out our instruments to join in. Never. Ever. Maybe guitar players… but they don’t count.
We talked to the conductor, because he took a liking to my husband. We talked for a long time, and again I didn’t say much. I said enough, though, to feel comfortable. However, when we were leaving later and stopped by the conductor’s table to say goodbye, the conductor said something, very good-naturedly, about how I need to talk. And there I was thinking I’d fooled him into thinking I do talk. I guess people aren’t that dumb.
I don’t know why I have this talking problem. Sometimes, very rarely, I can’t even think of anything to say to my husband or my best friend. I sit in silence, and at least I’m comfortable enough to say to them,
“I’m in one of those quiet moods and I can’t think of anything to say.”
And they call me a freak because they love me, and they talk until they find a topic that will get me going. It always works with them because they know me well. Too bad most people aren’t that patient with my silence.