Back again, with one of my peeves.
Here’s a brief excerpt from my novel THE WIDOWER. Maybe you know this person, a certain subspecies of Monomouths —
… (there was) a friend of Carolyn’s in our home town, whom we both came to know as “Betty Because.” Betty did gourmet catering and PTA hostessing, and she used language like a crowbar, to wrench every last ounce of doubt from a concept or statement, until nothing was left but a tedious chain of causation. Betty Because bored me to tears, the few times I was unfortunate enough to talk to her on the phone. “Jack, it’s Betty, could you tell Carolyn I’m running late for our meeting?” Sure, I’ll tell her. “I had to take Joey to the pediatrician to get shots.” Okay, no problem. “Then I had to stop and get a prescription for him because he’s got a recurrence of that awful infection, and I got held up at the drug store because the druggist had six people in front of me.” No problem, Betty, I’ll tell her. “Please give her the message because I did this to her once before, and I know that was a problem for her because of her tight schedule.” Betty Because eviscerated life of its intrigue.
I have known other monos (natch) in my life, and unfortunately have not sophisticated my defenses enough to protect me. Here’s a snippet —
“Ned, I haven’t seen you in ages! What are you up to? I really want to catch up on your amazing life.”
(my pic. cool lady)
“Well, Nora, I don’t know how amazing it is, but I just came out with –” (not said: a new novel)
“I can’t believe that – that’s so difficult – I have these friends, Pete and, would you believe Peter, and they just came out to their parents, all their friends of course already knew, but they can’t get married Georgia so I’ve encouraged them to move here to Maine, but then I don’t know if their relationship really has, you know, enough legs to make it good for the long pull. But enough! Who’s the lucky guy?” (Secret internal dialogue: “Well, I suppose that my book could be gay, and me too, but it’s super hard to marry, you know, a book.”)
“Well, it’s not a guy, it’s a new book. No biggie.”
“Oh heavens! I’ve been introducing Bill Bryson to our Book Club – have you read him? (nod, smile) – ’cause he can be so funny and informative at the same time… (yada yada)
Nod and Smile
Lest anyone think I’ve been sexist here, because Betty Because and Nora lead the way and they’re women, allow me to reveal that monomouthism in my experience is gender indifferent. Let’s meet Chet (I could call him Chat, but hey) who all but eviscerates the axiom that “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason – to listen twice as much as we talk.” While I was nodding and smiling at his panegyric against certain Republican governors in this state, a guy to his left was saying “That stock is going to explode! Get it now while you can!” and a woman to his right offering “She ran naked down the middle of Route 1 in Thomaston!” Woman’s friend: “She’s done that before.” Woman: “But not in January!!”, and even while he was passionately erupting against a certain Maine governor, his head would tilt first to the left and then to the right and he was, like, totally multitasking his way through his monomouthery. Never skipped a beat, but when I nodded and smiled a wee bit too much he turned away, greeting the guys talking about the stock that couldn’t fail, and at last I was free.
Silence is free. Balanced conversation is free – if you can find it. Best of all, walking out the door to the porch to see the moon waxing is free. The moon waxing makes no noise. The sky is quiet.
There you have it.