Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Masturbation: Aural Edition

Dear Eve Stevens,

I have friend I've known for 30 or so years. We keep in touch, exchange visits when we can. My spouse and I even met through her back in the day, so we have her as a mutual friend we both get along with. In the last few years, I've noticed something about this friend more and more: she never. Shuts. Up. As long as she's awake, she talks almost constantly. Even if what she was saying was interesting, it would still be endless. Increasingly, it isn't interesting, but mostly about friends of hers we don't know, never will know (we live hundreds of miles apart), probably don't care to know. That, and her "See and Say" tendency, i.e. if we're watching a movie, and a dog crosses the screen, she will launch into a stream of blather about dogs: "oh, a dog! I have a friend who once had a dog and the dog got so sick and eventually she had to take it to the hospital and she spent tons of money on it for treatment and it still DIED and my friend was really sad, but I don't think I'll ever get a dog because they're so much upkeep and I have trouble keeping PLANTS much less DOGS, but I hear some people get along really well with their dogs" blah blah mind-bending-blah. I don't know whether this comes from her living on her own for years and years, or what. But as much as we like her and still enjoy seeing her, we start to dread it more and try to decrease the number of days of visits, because by day three it's full-on homicide-inducing. Any suggestions for dealing with this Energizer Chatty Cathy without losing her as a friend?

Yours, Cochleaotomy

Dear Cochle--whatever,

I'm not going to point out the irony of your (much appreciated) long-winded question because that wouldn't be nice, but I do think it's interesting.  You're a talk-y kinda guy, it appears, so it would make sense that, at one point, you would be attracted to other talk-y people.  Now that you're older though, the tedious blow-by-blow of someone's thought process is just not as captivating as it used to be;  we're not in the 80's anymore.  It's simply no longer cool to try and channel one's inner Jack Kerouac (eww! It's sad that it ever was!): now we know how boring we really are.

I think you're right to mention her single status as possibly being part of the problem.  In a way, she's like a single child: she gets undivided attention where ever she goes, does exactly what she wants when she wants to, and doesn't have to take turns regularly.  She has no built in check and balance. You do, though.  You know that it's polite to let someone else have the floor and I'm sure you have a gal that will give you a sideways glance when you're talk turns masterbatory and everyone's dying for you to shut up--not that I ever would, mind you!  I love to hear what you have to say!--  She doesn't have that and gets to self-satisfy in public as it suits her and doesn't hear the "Dear Bob, Make her stop!" that is being shouted in her direction.

What to do, what to do?  Going at her head on with a "You make my ears bleed.  Please to be shutting the fuck up." seems harsh.  She's an old friend, and to her it would be coming from nowhere.  You're going to have to do the adult thing and avoid, Avoid, AVOID! her like she has air-born herpes (the CDC says it may exist!  insert sad face) because you're a kind old soul and she's a lonely old spinster.  ::sheds tears for her cat-filled life::.  You can re-direct her like she's a toddler and say something kinda mean but necessary:  "Don't you hate it when people talk through a movie?  I'm glad we can watch in peace."  It's mean, but not too mean and she'll be quiet while she tries to decide if you're talking about her or not. You can also make pointed remarks through out her stay, during the rare quiet times, about how nice it is to have a friend that that you don't need to make conversation with all the time; that spending time in silence with her is a gift and you're thankful that you know each other so well that being together is enough.  Gag-inducing, yes.  But she would probably love to hear that you feel that way about her.  With her, it's all about stopping the word barf before it begins. You're best bet, though, is to start shortening your visits and phone calls with her like you're already doing; it's best for the friendship.  She is who she is.  Because you're the one whose tolerance is changing, you have to be the one to change the parameters of your relationship.  She has no reason to change.  She's getting her needs fulfilled.  But you know all of this and are doing most of it.  You don't need me, bebe.  But I like to talk, too, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. 

Of course, your attempts to have some peace probably won't work and she will probably not get it and you will evetually wind up in the pen' with assault charges under your belt.  You'll get to work in the library and definitely not get shanked because you're too smart for that.  Whew!  I was scared for a minute!  You'll get out on parole.  She'll have forgiven you by then and probably be the one to to pick you up and will then spend the 5 hour ride home (why is it always such a long ride? IDK) going on, ad nauseum, about the years that have passed and she'll promise you that you won't miss a moment, starting with, "So when I walked out of the courthouse...."

This time, it's murder.

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