Turbo Talking

I recently spent a week with my girlfriends–the BFF’s. We are all blessed with terrific husbands who encourage our trips, in fact, they downright insist. Isn’t that thoughtful? Or maybe they really just want some peace and quiet. Not that our wonderful men don’t enjoy a lively conversation or the odd philosophical discourse, its simply that my BFF’s and I yearn for periodic bouts of turbo talking, and our guys are more than happy to oblige our collective need.

For us talking is a sport, and typical of any sport, there are a few rules and strategies to employ. The goal is to maintain the floor, if you are in possession and then lose the floor, it may be hours or days before another opportunity arises. The number one strategy is to talk fast, telling your story quickly with as few breaths as possible, and then to segue into the next story before  another BFF responds. If she does respond its important to talk over her– louder and faster. This all takes practice. Now my BFF’s are competitive and determined to win back the floor, so as it happens quite often, I lose it. In order to win it back, I use another strategy that involves interrupting the talker with alcohol refills. I leave the talker’s glass to the last, and once all the other glasses are filled, I move in on the talker and ask if she wants a refill, this puts her off her game. Standing over her gives me physical advantage. While filling her glass, I spin off her story with one of my own–big points. With consistent training you too can master Turbo Talking, then you’ll be ready to tackle the Iron Tongue.

The Iron Tongue takes talking to a whole new level since it involves activity. To ease into the technique, start with dinner out. We like to frequent restaurants that have conversation pits since there’s no annoying interference from a table. Body language in the form of dramatic gesturing is encouraged and admired. Once this is mastered you may be ready for more vigorous activity like floating in the water while drinking. There we were my BFF’s and I, paddling around on our air mattresses, drinks in hand, while I held forth. After a period of uninterrupted talking, I noticed the current had taken us far from shore, it threw me off and I lost my place. One of my BFF’s, valiantly threw back her drink, plopped in the water and swam us all back to shore talking nonstop. I love that woman! What an athlete!

The next day we were kayaking, which presents a whole different set of challenges. Shouting is necessary and dangerous since its easier to lose one’s voice and that would be disastrous in the middle of the trip with three days to go. One of my BFF’s paired off with another BFF which is a huge ploy to gain the floor. I was forced to resort to inducing fear to keep everyone close. I hollered out, “Shark!” Everyone gathered in close craning their necks, then looked at me expectantly.  I shrugged and started talking. Win Win.

My Mother-In-Law

I know all the jokes and cliches about mothers-in-law, but my MIL is different. She is an exceptional woman that I’ve had the privilege to know all these years. To have a connection with your MIL may seem like an unusual sentiment, on the other hand isn’t it also biblical: wasn’t it Ruth who said to her MIL, Naomi, “Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people.”

My MIL is 93. Her mind is sharp, and her health, excellent. A few years ago she suffered a botched hip surgery, which left her with drop foot. However, this impediment has not slowed her down; she may not be able to walk without a cane but she continues to ride a bicycle and kayak. Her boundless curiosity in regard to human nature and the wonders of the natural world, enhance her vibrancy. She is a gifted artist and musician. She also sews her own clothes–this amazes me since I can’t sew a button on without help.

The other evening, my MIL and I had dinner. Our conversation rambled from one weighty subject to another. I had trouble keeping up. We touched on our respective childhoods: mine–troubled, hers, nothing but fond memories. This led to a discussion about an article in a magazine she had read written by Brene Brown, whom I happen to admire. “Well,” my MIL said, “I think all this talk about shame and guilt is dumb.” Now I don’t know anyone who doesn’t carry around some burden of shame and guilt, hereafter identified as s&g, (not to be confused with s&m.) She has no such burden. I don’t want you to think she’s gone through life unscathed–no one ever does that! She may have had an idyllic childhood but she also has had her share of disappointments and misery.

I continued to babble on about the s&g in my life. Geez–I could fill a book. (I think I did that). She listened attentively to my drivel, then sat back, and said, “I don’t have any problems.” I felt like George Bush, full of shock and awe. Who doesn’t have problems? For days after this conversation I stewed over this pronouncement, and I came to this realization: I don’t have any problems either. Really, do any of us?

I’m looking at my life differently now. I want to age gracefully just like my MIL;  take care of my body, stay curious, and let go of the past.  Where she has gone, I will go…