Sunday, November 22, 2009


There are many types of talkers.


There's the close talker.  Remember this guy?  Judge Reinhold famously portrayed this boundary-challenged character on Seinfeld back in 1994. 


Then there's the slow talker.  D'ya know this guy?  It takes him forever to get the words out of his mouth.  "How's the… um… did anyone… um… see the… er…"  Spit it out already!


And, of course, there's the low talker.  (See Chapter 28 of The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir).  As some of you know, I dated this guy.  Bill.  Bill the low talker.  Ours was a relationship doomed to failure.  He didn't say much and – since I'm not a lip reader – I couldn't understand what little he did say. 


Then there's me.  I'm a loud talker.  I don't know why, really, I just am.  The reason could be psychologically rooted.  Perhaps, as a middle child, I was overlooked growing up and felt the need to speak up in order to be heard.  I doubt that, though.  Maybe it has to do with all the community theater I've done.  We were never mic'd, and even though the venues were small, we still had to project our voices so that the people in the back could hear us – project without screaming (read: talk loudly).  This probably isn't it either.  Is it possible that my hearing is partially impaired and, therefore, I'm unaware of how loudly I'm actually speaking? Now this is a theory with potential.  


So I'm a loud talker.  Can I really help that, though?  Not if I don't realize it, I can't.  But see, that's the thing.  There are people all over the place willing to help me realize it.  I call them The Ssh'ers – and they're everywhere.  These vigilantes are out there diligently working to help me keep my decibels down.      


The original Ssh'er is my dad.  He often alerts me when my voice begins to rise.  "Ssh," he says, while motioning his splayed palm downward, "not so loud."


My educators were big Ssh'ers, too.  But honestly, for them, I really don't think it was a volume issue; I think they just had trouble, in general, with my constant need to chit-chat.  Hey, I wasn't nominated Class Chatterbox for nothing.


And, there's apparently a whole posse of Ssh'ers out there – incognito – living among us, just waiting for the opportunity to shut down a loud mouth.  Out of nowhere they appear – extended index finger planted firmly to the lips – "Ssh," they indignantly reprimand, doing their part to keep the volume under control.


I've been ssh'ed at the movies; but truly, this is not my fault.  Although I do sometimes lose track of my volume, I know, by now, my tendency is toward loudness so I rarely speak once the movie starts.  One of my friends, on the other hand… bit of a talker.


A woman once ssh'ed me at a Giants game – if you can believe it – and yet, chose not to ssh the crazed fanatic yelling and cursing two rows back.  Heck, who could blame her – I was easier to subdue.


I was even ssh'ed at a Peter Gabriel concert.  This was before the concert began.  I couldn't believe it – the preshow hadn't even started yet.  What was the big deal?  Who cared how loud I was?  Quite frankly, if you ask me, some of these ssh'ers are a bit out of control.  Side story:  I once went to a Genesis concert where a fellow fan sitting behind me screamed, "CHESTER THOMPSON!" for the better part of the show.  Chester Thompson is the touring drummer.  "CHESTER THOMPSON! … CHESTER!! … CHESTER THOMPSON! …  CHESTER!!!"  You get it.  I took that for a good half hour before timidly turning around to say, "Dude."  I said it with a smile.  He smiled back and said, "CHESTER!"  Laryngitis finally got him just before the encore. 


I've also been ssh'ed on an airplane.  I had the rare pleasure of being seated next to a very friendly woman from Philadelphia (city of brotherly love… and cheese steaks).  My initial intention was to read – my book was actually on my lap the whole time – but we just chatted like two old friends.  At some point the flight attendant came by, and it wasn't to offer a beverage, or even peanuts, but rather to ask that we keep our voices down. Ssh'ed on a plane…


And here's the cake-taker.  I was recently ssh'ed on Pinnacle Peak.  Pinnacle Peak mountain, that is.  That's right – in the open air of the great outdoors, some 2,000 feet above sea level, I was ssh'ed.  Here's what happened.  I had just encountered a 4'-0" long diamondback and decided to cut my hike short.  A fellow hiker, noticing my retreat, called out asking me why I turned around.  I was probably a little over excited with the adrenaline rush that fear produces, so I suppose it's possible that, as I answered him, I may have been somewhat on the loud side.  It was during this exchange that another hiker came by and – you know what's coming, right? – said, "Ssh!  Keep your voice down."  WHAT?  Why?  It's not like I was in a library.  Who was I disturbing?  A cactus?  Some rocks?  Other hikers?  I don't think so.  I wasn't shouting out the ingredients of my new favorite recipe, after all.  I was sharing the story of my near miss with a deadly snake.  I always appreciate knowing where danger may lurk on that trail, and it's not only common sense, but just good trail etiquette to share that information with others, as well.  So what if I was a little loud – too bad, so sad. 


When you have something that's worthy of alerting others about, you don't do it in hushed tones.  Alerting, by its very nature, requires volume.  Think about how different things might be today if Paul Revere was a close, slow or low talker.  Imagine if he whispered, "The British are coming… the British are coming."  You can't do it, can you?  No, you can't, because it's unreasonable.  Paul Revere was obviously a loud talker – and good for us that he was.  Loud talkers unite!


Reaching the back row,

 ~ M.