Monday, April 19, 2010

"Private Conversations"

I’m thinking of getting one of those “Blue Tooth” earpieces, so when I’m talking to myself, people will think I’m on the phone.

It doesn’t have to work. I don’t need a phone. As I’ve written elsewhere, I have a phone, meaning a cell phone. Most of the time, it sits in the kitchen, “charging” itself. On rare occasions, a squeak will come out of it, indicating that I’ve “missed a call.” It takes me about twenty minutes to determine where the squeak is coming from. Once I do, I have no idea how to retrieve the missed call. I just unplug the thing, hoping the squeak will go away.

The earpiece idea is not about having a phone; it’s about camouflaging my habit of constantly talking to myself. It’s not because I care what people think about me. I just don’t want to upset them when they see my lips moving.

“Look at that. We go for a nice, peaceful walk. And there’s a crazy, possibly dangerous person, yakking away to nobody. I think I’m going to be sick.”

But if I had an earpiece…

“No, look. He’s on the phone.”

“Oh. Well, that’s okay then.”

You see the difference?

I talk to myself. It’s how it is. It could be outside on a bench, it could be in a store, sitting in the “Man Chair” – the special seat provided to men, while they wait for their female whatevers to finish shopping – it could be in my car, it could be on a walk. I’m alone two minutes, and my lips start moving.

And not just when I’m alone. I realize how insulting this is to family and friends, but the thing is, nobody’s more interesting to me than I am. Two explanations come to mind: One, I am endlessly entertaining to myself; I know exactly how to get to me. And two, even when I say the most outrageous things to myself, I never disagree.

I’m the ideal conversation partner. I just love what I have to say.

Besides keeping myself glorious company, talking to myself provides other positive benefits. There’s a line I once heard in a play that said: “How do I know what I think, till I hear what I say?”

I take that quote literally.

Imagine having a head full of thoughts and not knowing what any of them are. You may as well have no thoughts in there at all. It is only by saying them out loud that I know that those thoughts exist, and, more importantly, I know exactly what they are.

“Saying them out loud.” This part of the process seems to disturb people the most. Why do I have to say things out loud? Why can’t I just think those things? Or, worst case scenario, move my lips without making a sound.

Okay. “Just thinking things” is not the same as saying things out loud. Thinking comes in flashes – bim, bam, boom! Your brain is like a pinball machine. Ideas keep bouncing off each other, interrupting the flow. As a result, thinking rarely involves fully formed thoughts. For that, you need a more complete articulation, the thoughts congealing into complete, coherent sentences. That comes from saying things out loud.

As for the second point, “Why not simply move your lips?” Sometimes, I do that – when I’m around my loved ones, and I don’t want to unnecessary piss them off. It turns out they resent me anyway. Because they think I’d rather talk to myself than talk to them. I say, “Incorrect.” I only talk to myself when it’s quiet. The minute they start talking, I stop talking to myself, and immediately talk to them. It’s not like I say, “Shhh. I’m talking to myself.” That would be rude.

In situations when I’m alone, well, once you’re moving you lips, you’re already making people uncomfortable. You may as well go all the way. Besides, if I don’t make some sounds when I’m talking, I can’t hear what I’m saying. My ears aren’t that far from my mouth, so I don’t need to speak that loud. But I do need to speak loudly enough for my ears to pick up the words. Otherwise what am I doing? I’m moving my lips for no reason. Now, that’s crazy.

Talking to myself is demonstrably productive. Many of my most satisfying blog posts originated from my talking to myself. This one, for example. I imagine – though I have no hard evidence to back it up – that doing this blog has propelled talking to myself into overdrive. It’s understandable. I have a furnace to feed. I can’t waste precious time thinking nothing.

But even if I didn’t write a blog, for me, talking to myself is a natural activity. “Natural” in its generic sense. When my inner thoughts reach my moving lips, they’re delivered in their natural state. Precisely worded, and impeccably timed.

I “kill” when I’m talking to myself. And that’s why I do it. Talking to myself is the only arena where I attain perfection.

It is also the arena where I can say whatever I want. I can be dangerous. I can be disrespectful. I can be tasteless. I can be silly. I can be crude. Sometimes, I’m even slightly racist. (As in the Avenue Q song, “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist…Sometimes.”) During private moments, I’ve been known to adopt the persona of a philosophical, old Negro man.

“When it comes down to certain behaviors, well…some does, and some doesn’t.”

So I’m racist but respectful.

Before I go, I want to make one thing clear, in case there’s a disease-label attached for my behavior – “auto-hablation”, or something. Although I’ve been accused of doing so, to say that I talk to myself "all the time" would be a gross and inaccurate exaggeration. I do not talk to myself all the time.

Sometimes, I sing to myself.


Olli Sulopuisto said...

Mr Pomerantz,

You might've mentioned this in an earlier post, but I don't recall reading about it, so I'll just go ahead and ask (again?): When trying to write a script or a blogpost or whatever, do you record your monologues, or do you just speak out loud and then try to type it up from memory?

Just curious is all.

JED said...

I find that talking to myself helps me remember what I was thinking. If I just think it and try to remember it, it is much tougher. If I say what I'm thinking out loud (loud enough for me to hear it), then it is not only in that part of my brain that originated the thought but it is now in the part of my brain reserved for, "I heard somebody say this" stuff. I've just doubled my chance of remembering the thought.

Jim Dodd

growingupartists said...

If it makes you feel any better, you've made a very reasonable case for talking to yourself. And, being sold, I'm going to have to try it.

Max Clarke said...

Or you could carry a voice recorder.

While there are high-tech voice recorders that digitally record your audio at radio studio quality, they do require you to use your computer to process the files.

There are also voice recorders that use cassette tapes. They're cheap -Sony makes one for about $40- and they will show everybody you're saying something so profound, it has to be recorded. When you return home, your remarks will be on the voice recorder for listening and writing.

A. Buck Short said...

So, can we assume you're still on good speaking terms? At least you've got the friggin' blog. I hate it when somebody barges in and catches me typing to myself. And you did almost let the cat out of the bag. Singing to oneself is, of course, the perpetual default cover story.

It's not, the worst form of pyschosis. For a dicey two year period, I found myself having an affair with our daughter's imaginary friend.