They Need to Talk

“Jon, dear, please remove your fingers from your ears.  How will you break your fall if you should crash that board you insist on riding?”

He streaks by with an annoyed look on his face.  He doesn’t hear Margaret. He’s trying not to hear anything. Tuning them out is not possible. That’s all they do. They talk and blather on and they never stop to listen. He makes another pass and stops in front of Gladys, “If I hadn’t lost my ear buds, I wouldn’t have to plug my ears. Have you seen my buds anywhere?”

Gladys exhales a long puff of cigarette smoke, looks at Jon and says, “What are buds?”

“Speakers. Ear buds are little speakers that fit in your ears. I plug ’em into my iPod and listen to music. You know, music? I lost my buds.”

“You mean that white cording draped over that marker back there? Are those the ear buds you speak of?”

“Yeah! That’s them. Where’d you see ’em.”

Gladys flicks an ash and laughs, “I can’t possibly remember which marker I saw them on. Look at all these gravestones. How would I remember where I saw them?”


Basil puts down his thermos lid of coffee. “Why are ya plugging yer ears kid? Just tune ’em out like I do.”

Jon leans his skateboard against a grave marker and sits down next to Basil. “How can you tune ’em out? They never shut up. Why are they always talking?”

Margaret wipes her hands on her apron, “They can’t help it, dear. They need to hear their own voices.  They need to talk.  They are afraid of not being heard. They are afraid that they don’t matter. They think that if they keep talking, they’ll be seen. They are looking for affirmation.”

Gladys steps down from her perch on a marker. “You know, if they’d quiet themselves, perhaps someone could get a word in and encourage them or give them the acknowledgment they so desperately seek.”

“What if they shut up, and no one acknowledges them?” Basil takes a sip of coffee. “What if they pause long enough to get that affirmation, and none comes. Then what? That’s what they’re really afraid of – that they won’t get what they need, so they fill the silence with their own yacking.”


Margaret slices into a warm apple pie.  “Maybe they’re afraid they’ll be told they’re doing it all wrong.  Don’t you hear them in their beds at night?  They toss and turn with thoughts spinning in their heads.  They second-guess their own actions.  It’s not easy living without conviction.  It’s hard to deal with all those doubts.  Maybe the incessant talking keeps them from thinking.  Thinking gets them in trouble.”

Jon spins a wheel on his skateboard.  “What are they so afraid of?  Is it so bad to find out they could be doing it wrong?  So what.  Start over and try again.  It’s like skateboarding.  You keep at it until you get it right.”

Basil shakes his head as he pours more coffee.  “Your young…  or you were.  You hadn’t had the chance to learn what it’s like to be on your 17th time to try.  It gets old.  The mistakes start to stink after awhile.  And when the mistakes start stinkin’, it gets harder to keep trying.”

“Basil, you can’t have made that many mistakes, dear.  You did your best.”

“Thanks, Margaret, but it took awhile to get to the point where I believed I was doin’ my best and not someone else’s best.  That’s the thing that tripped me up for so long.”

“Why would you care about doing things any other way than your way?”

“Well, Gladys, if you don’t mind my saying so, you pretty much always did things your way.  That’s easy for you.  I don’t know why I couldn’t figure that out sooner.  Maybe it was pressure to make more money.  Mighta been stress from providin’ for a family.  Coulda been voices tellin’ me I was crap.  It took a long while to quit listenin’ to that stuff.”


Margaret dishes another piece of pie.  “You know, it takes a certain amount of confidence to shut out those voices.  And for some folks, it takes a bit of time to develop that confidence.  Just like that riding board of yours, Jon.  It took you a fair amount of time to get as good as you are, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I just kept at it.”

Basil looks at Jon and says, “How come you didn’t spend any time worrying about whether you were doin’ it right or not?”

“I dunno.  I guess I was havin’ too much fun to care.”


Gladys raises the filter to her lips and Basil reaches over with a lighter.  “Have you noticed how some of those yakking folks – as you so politely put it, Basil – are talking from an even deeper lack of self-confidence?  It’s as if they are trying to talk themselves out of a hole.  They must be thinking words will give them the confidence they lack.  If I cared, I might feel sorry for them, but they are their own worst enemies.  They just keep talking and digging their holes deeper.”

“Oh, dear.  You know those poor narcissistic folks have the most severe lack of self-confidence.  They’ll talk all day long trying to convince themselves of their worth.  They’ll talk over each other, around each other and keep talking until they prove to the world that they are worth something.  I’m sorry Gladys, but I feel sorry for those folks.”

Gladys exhales after a long drag, “That’s sweet of you, Margaret, but those folks need to get some help.”

Basil laughs, looks at Jon and says, “I might wanna get me some o’ them buds.  It’s them narcissistic talkers that I can’t tune out.”


Margaret wipes her hands on her apron, “Pie anyone?”

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  1. I love these guys. They each have such a distinct personality!

  2. Pat,

    Thanks. I feel like I know folks like ’em in this realm – so to speak.

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