I think we’ve all been in the position where there’s something incredibly simple that we’ve needed from someone, but we loathe asking for it. Oh, not because you fear the person will reject your request, quite the opposite in fact… they are often eager to help. You just dread the long and drawn out interaction that you know is going to go with that simple ask.
For instance, you need that recipe from a co-worker… you know, the one for that dish everyone was raving over at lunch last month. You jotted it down but misplaced the napkin you sketched it on. In all probability, you forgot you had made the note in the first place, duly wiped your mouth, and threw the napkin away. So what do you do? Call up your pal, except she’s one of those people who will literally talk your ear off. It doesn’t matter though; you promised some friends that you would make the best tapenade that they ever had and damn it, that’s what you’re going to do. So, you begrudgingly make the call, knowing you’ll be on the phone for hours for a piece of information that would take a normal person no more than a few minutes to repeat. And… you were right. Because before you know it, you’ve learned that 3 generations of men in her family have done their time in the military, but not Henry, oh no, not good-for-nothing Henry, and little Janie is getting straight A’s in school (thanks to the tutor that her hairdresser recommended), her husband got a promotion, which was long overdue, because allegedly he could perform the job better than his boss could have, in his sleep mind you! And finally, little Billy is all grown up, and off to college, so after an hour and a half of story time, and 20 minutes of sobbing into the phone, I’m now equipped with the knowledge to prepare that banging tapenade from the pot-luck lunch we had a few weeks ago. Next time I need a recipe, I think I’ll just google it.
My mother has a neighbor that will talk about nothing for three hours. She’ll get off the phone with this woman and I’ll ask, how’s Marion, what did you talk about for five hours? And my mother has no idea. Of course, she wasn’t the one doing the talking, so there’s that. We’ve all known someone like Marion. For instance, I didn’t even know there was lecture-length material out there on the history of bowling balls, but growing up, my friend had an Uncle Randy, and he could talk to you about bowling for a full day and not repeat himself. True story.
Another pet peeve of mine is people that take the long way around to tell a simple story. And I mean, the scenic route. Especially if I’m in a hurry or already trying to do something. Or when the story starts out sounding like it’s kind of important.
“Hey, don’t freak out, but I was in a car accident.”
“What? Are you ok!? What happened?!”
“I’m fine. But get this… so I was at the grocery store, right? They had this crazy sale on Milkbones and I was like, wow, that’s a really good deal…”
“That’s great, but the accident? What happened!? Are you okay??”
“I was getting to that, but you didn’t let me finish. Geez! So anyway, I got the Milk-Bones and I remembered that you said you had that thing for work coming up…”
Yeah, you get the idea, 40 minutes later you find out that the guy who rear-ended her used to be her husband’s old co-worker who got drunk at a work party once and ate a box of Milk-Bones.
I’m telling you, even kids notice.
“Mom, do we have to go to Aunt Karen’s? All she does is talk about her Pomeranians.”
“I know sweetie, but it’s her birthday. Just pretend you never heard any of it before.”
“How am I supposed to do that when I could write a book on Pomeranians just on what I remember from last week’s visit?”
Don’t get me wrong, I can gossip and shoot the bull with the best of them, and I’m sure I’ve talked someone’s ear off a time or two. Especially when I’m riled up about something. I’m sure we all have. It’s just that some people seem to have the uncanny ability to do it often and do it well. Too well if you ask me.