A Woman of Few Words

I retreated to my comfort zone for … well, comfort. I rewarded an author who made money recycling previously published stories by compiling them into a single book. I figure that because I pay for convenience in a thousand ways a day, that I might as well add a new book of old stories to my pre-washed, bagged lettuce, my pre-measured instant coffee packets, my detergent and softener pods, and the drive through pharmacy, bank, and brew-through. The few bucks I spent on The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories is a small price to pay to keep company with one of my all-time favorite characters. And, true to form, there’s gold in them there hills, and mining these stories for deep thoughts is always like unwrapping a long-anticipated gift. Joyful. 

One Word Answer and Small-Town Wedding are today’s inspirations.  In both, Sookie explores the concept of keeping her tongue and saying no more than necessary. She struggles to do so, but in the end she reveals no more than she should and she resists the urge to keep talking to impress, or fill silence, or assuage internal anxiety. I admire her triumph— a triumph, unfortunately, I don’t share. 

I aspire to being a woman of few words. As I write this, it seems like a strange objective for a writer, but the best writers write exactly the right number of words and no more. There is the old Mark Twain aphorism that he had to write a long letter because he lacked the time to write a short one. Practicing restraint of tongue and pen—for someone like me—is a discipline I have yet to master. 

There are those who, by nature, are reticent and soft spoken. These are the folks we must strain to hear, and who tend to share their wisdom only occasionally. As I’ve said before, I impute great depth and wisdom to the quiet ones, because I always believe they are watching and observing and hoarding critical information that they dribble out in wise rations. From experience, I know this isn’t true. But the belief persists, mostly because it’s hard for me to think otherwise. Why else would someone keep quiet except to drive everyone to distraction wondering what they’re hiding? Is it possible I’m projecting? 

Then there are those who talk to hear their own voices and who believe that anything that springs from their lips is a pearl. News flash: not so much. And I’m not an idiot; I understand that to speak or not to speak is mostly about personality types and internal confidence and not so much about whether we have anything to say. Can you imagine a world where none of us spoke unless we had something meaningful to say?  I’m pretty sure my head would explode from the deafening silence.  

Keeping my mouth shut is a Herculean task. Occasionally, I can manage it, but not often. I feel compelled to have the last word, to fill pregnant pauses and to jaw to awe. This gets me into trouble fairly often. Moreover, I can sometimes snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to say my peace and then shutting the fuck up. I keep blathering until I’ve convinced my poor listener that my great idea must have been the lone thought of a fool. 

Part of my problem is that talking is a nervous tic for me, and I blather when I’m bothered. I know I come off as a total ditz with logorrhea when in truth I’m just an anxious mess. I don’t wish to be perceived as either which is why I wish I could keep my traitorous tongue inside my piehole. See, I can be a woman of few words. A least sometimes. I mean upon occasion.

I aspire to be a woman of mystery who guards her words and speaks them with care. I want people to wonder what I’m thinking and worry that my thoughts don’t reflect well on them. Just kidding. I don’t want to make people nervous with my silence. I would never do that. Because I hate it when people do that to me. Having said that, I could be more judicious in choosing confidantes. I could also refrain from discussing anything personal in business settings or professional in personal situations. 

I could, but I probably won’t. Because unlike Sookie, I am not overly fond of one-word answers, holding my tongue or schooling my face to avoid reflecting my thoughts. Silence is not so golden for me. More like pyrite. But that’s ok, I will be a woman of many words and I will share them with you, my readers. Thank you for reading.