Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quiet Days

Almost every other day, somebody says to me, “Are you okay? You're very quiet today.”

Recently, after a pleasant dinner with the gang, one friend (who prides herself on her emotional astuteness) texted me: “I can't help but notice that you didn't look okay earlier.” My repeated assurances that nothing was wrong seem to have convinced her only that I am unwilling to share with her my deep emotional pain and trauma.

So I asked another, less emotionally-charged friend if I had looked somehow not okay at dinner. He said to me, “Sometimes you're very talkative, and other times you're very quiet.”

Well, duh. Why does this confuse people?

When we were teenagers, my very best friend, who I have known my entire life, used to say pretty often, “You're very quiet today.” I wondered how many quiet days I would have to have before she cottoned on, but I attributed her repeated confusion to her extroversion (in contrast to my textbook introversion).

Some days, I have a lot to say. Other days, I do not. What is odd about this? What is unusual about this? Do most people have things to say every day, or do they just force themselves to keep talking even on days when they have nothing to say?

I like good conversation, but I am not afraid of silence. I talk when I want to, and when I don't want to talk I don't. In this way I can (mostly) avoid those instances of mindless babbling where I listen to myself talking and think, “My God, would you shut up?”

Some days, I am talkative. Other days, I am quiet. This is entirely logical. Why do people find it so baffling?


  1. It is somewhat odd to be out with a gang of friends and be quiet. I think most people would find it odd or suspect something may be wrong if their friend was quiet at a time (a dinner with friends) when they're expected to be more gregarious.

    That being said, I'm all for quiet days. And yes, a great many people do talk, just to fill the space. Then there's the lot of people who think their opinions are too important for you to pass up, and therefor talk incessantly out of pure narcissism.

  2. It did occur to me that my feelings can be summed up best in some Talking Heads lyrics:

    "You start a conversation, you can't even finish it
    You're talking a lot, but you're not saying anything
    When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
    Say something once, why say it again?"

    Which is, of course, from the song "Psycho Killer". I fail to see how "sparing people the tedium of my witless babblings" equates to "murdering them to death".