Sometimes I wish I could shut my mouth. I have this thing, when I speak, where I become incredulous too quickly and the edges of my mouth curl upward, and I can't race to my point fast enough. My whole body looks like it's preparing to take off for flight and as I speak and speak and speak and gesticulate I keep seeing my point receding further into the distance, disappearing from my line of sight for long stretches of time, only to make fleeting appearances – just long enough to force me into maintaining pace.
I wish I could stop doing this. It's not thoughtful. It looks like I'm trying to sell a lie. I've always admired peole who choose their words carefully. Who drain out all of the "um"s and "uh"s and especially the "like"s. Who don't break down into nervous giggles in mid-sentence. Who, lacking a better ending for their stories, don't cop out by finishing every sentence by clapping their hands free of imaginary dust and proclaiming, "...and that's the end of that!"
There's something very sophisticated about people who take their time. Maybe this careful language is really a product of their own social anxiety, manifesting itself as shyness, but from the other side it's kind of cool.
I don't like the way I rush through monologues sometimes, but I am even worse when I consciously attempt to compose my words. I have a friend who used to think I was being patronizing to waitstaff because I would always try to choose my words very carefully around them, in order to appear very civilized. Unfortunately, a statement like, "excuse me, I think we're all done here," sounds sort of dismissive as a declaration. It's one of those statements that could probably benefit from a peppering of gesture and stammer. I've learned to soften my approach to waitstaff with lots of smiles and hugs, to insure the correct impression.
When I think about it, it's pretty incredible how much I labor to express myself well to the person who is in charge of handing me a plate of chicken fingers, while I fly off the idiot handle in peer-to-peer situations. I'm kind of like a person with poor drawing skills, where you see the picture drawn with perfect acuity in your mind but you have no means of transporting that image from your brain to a piece of paper without severely damaging it, almost beyond the point of recognition.
[last night i ran out of a bar and chased someone down on the sidewalk just to apologize for something i'd already apologized for via email many weeks ago. i just felt, on my own, with time to think about it, that an email apology only gets half the job done. i don't see how anyone can feel satisfied with resolving something over email, and never believe the issue has to be addressed again, in person. but i also don't see how that belief should inspire you to run out into the street and grab someone to apologize as i did. he couldn't have known about all the worms that were crawling through my brain for 10 full minutes prior to our coerced confrontation. he probably just saw a crazy man on the sidewalk, breathless and inappropriately dressed for the weather.
the only other time i've ever done this was a couple years ago, when i found myself charmed by a woman from across a music club, and the worms told me that if i didn't tell her so i was resigning myself to a life of social awkwardness and i would die a romantic reactionary, without a single risk taken. when there's that much at stake in your head, the conversation cannot go smoothly. and, after i saw her exit the bar and suddenly popped out of my seat to follow her on to the sideway, it did not. if i could remember her name now – shauna? something – i would probably owe her an apology as well. just as i owe you one now.]