Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Silence
Jennifer Flaten

You know how some people can talk to anyone, about anything? Yeah, that’s not me. I am the quiet one. I am not a big talker by nature and years of working at home means, I can frequently go eight hours without talking to an actual person, since talking to myself doesn’t count.


My kids are loquacious.

Although, I bet my pets think I am a sparkling conversationalist, mainly because my talking to them consists of me offering them treats or telling them it is time for a walk.

It doesn’t help that my kids are loquacious. There isn’t a moment when one of them isn’t talking and if there is such a moment, I become instantly suspicious that they are up to something.


My kids think silence is insanely dangerous.

With kids silence equals I’m doing something insanely dangerous. I stand by my theory, the last time the kids were quiet I discovered them bowling with glass bottles as the pins.

Now, the kids talk a lot; all through the day, but there is something about suppertime that makes them especially talkative. I don’t know if it’s because I am a captive audience or if it is a way to avoid eating their vegetables, but at supper they hog the conversation spotlight.

I am also saved responding to rhetorically questions like “Does she even look in a mirror” by the fact that my mouth is full of food. It also explains why I am done eating a full 10 minutes before the kids.

And it isn’t just sharing information like telling me they used the last roll of toilet paper-actually, I would like the kids to be more forthcoming with important information like that, but alas they usually chose to give me a blow by blow description of a day in the life of an eighth grader.

I won’t lie; it’s a great system, they talk. I listen. Truly, I don’t need to do much to hold up my side of the conversation. A few well placed uh-huhs and a lot of smiling and nodding can get me through most days with the kids.

I can even read and maintain my side of the conversation, a feat I am especially proud of and unique to women, I told.

Too bad, it doesn’t work out in the real world. Sadly, in the real world smiling and nodding only gets you so far. In fact, smile and nod too much and you might find you’ve agreed to host an international juggling competition in your back yard.


Someone sees a quiet person reading, they think they need to be entertained.

Even worse, people see a quiet person reading or staring into space and they instantly think we need entertainment. They will start talking to you when you are reading in public-or the company lunch room and they expect you to stop reading and acknowledge what they’ve said-even if you’re at a really, really good part of the book.

To make it easier on quiet people, who are forced to engage in conversation, I think a little sign should pop up, similar to the applause sign, but it should say “talk now” to let the quiet people know it is time to add something to the conversation.

I’ll admit I’ve needed that sign on a few occasions. The most recent time when I applied for new home insurance during the question and answer section the computer would pause before each section to process the information. During those times, I was more than happy to sit quietly, but the agent needed to talk.

See this is when I needed the “talk now” sign. Then I would know I needed to say something back to her seemingly aimless comment about the weather. Since I didn’t have the helpful sign, there were a few awkward pauses. At least I didn’t agree to a juggling competition.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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