“Your’e very quiet,” my haircutter said. How long had I been sitting there saucer-eyed and mute like an owl, listing, reworking the ending to a query letter in my head. “Hmph?” Hearing his voice I was brought back to earth. I caught eye contact with him in the mirror. “Oh,” I chuckled, “there’s a lot of noise in my head.”
He smiled briefly and nodded his head, but said nothing.
Tonight your dad and I have an interview to join a yacht club. Who are we? Excellent question.
“I wonder when our membership kicks in and when we can start going,” your father said last night to which I corrected, “if we get in.”
“Well we’ll see how it goes,” he said about the interview, “if you don’t talk too much…”
He was kidding, of course, but I still elbowed him the ribs. “I won’t!”
And I won’t. In fact the problem is never if I’m going to talk too much. I can be very quiet sometimes, most times. The problem is when I do open my mouth, what am I going to say.
Setting me loose in a yacht club could be very dangerous. I could quote “What About Bob:” “AHOY! I’m SAAAAAIIIIIILING!” I could quote “Drop Dead Fred:” “PIRATES!” Even “Jaws:” “We’re going to need a bigger boat…”
I could say something like “there’s a lot of noise in my head” to a hairdresser trying to make conversation.
So I’ll choose door number three and be quiet.
I’d like to be someone who always says the right thing. Let me rephrase that, I know I’m not a person who says the right things. I watched Kevin Spacey so awkwardly throw himself under a bus at a cocktail party in “American Beauty”–“It’s okay, I wouldn’t remember me either”–and thought, yes, yes! (I thought this, not said.)
This is something to be aware of, babies. Don’t censor yourselves, no! Not at all! But be mindful of the things you say. Because that’s all people are ever going to know of you, what you give them, what you show you them.
Unless, of course, you become a crazy ol’ writer like your mom. If that’s the case, god help you.