I’ve never been one for idle chitchat; neither is Tay and so our marriage works. We talk mostly about matters of relevance (to us, at least) and it’s very rare that you’ll overhear us discussing the weather or the price of bananas at the supermarket. Over the years, I’ve developed friendships that are, in a large part, based on amiable silences – I’m not the type of friend that will call you up to talk about nothing. When I call, I usually have an agenda and once I’ve exhausted it, I’m usually likely to get off the phone. It’s one of the reasons I prefer email to the telephone, or why, 9 times out of 10, I’m happy to get a person’s voicemail and just hammer out why it is I called. And one of the reasons I think I can get away with this callous attitude towards interaction is because I’ve already devoted hundreds of hours of getting to know people and how they think – I don’t need to rehash all the intricacies of our friendship each and every time we talk.
As a result, when people come to visit me, I tend to have a very low threshold of constant interaction. I’m fine for the first few days, sometimes even a week (depending on who’s visiting) but then I start to get edgy with the constant conversation. In the past, when I’ve reached my limit, I’ve been known to tell people that I need some downtime, that I need there to be NO TALKING. (This is one of the reasons I love it when Dawn comes to TIFF with us – because I can spend 16 hours out of every day with her and not feel like I have to spend every minute in idle chit chat. – we can spend an hour in traffic or sitting on a stonewall outside Ryerson, not talking, just lost in our own thoughts. I think we “get” each other in that regard).
And then, there are some people who need to talk, talk, talk and for some reason or another, I can’t claim that quiet downtime that I so desperately need. Sometimes, I wish I had a sign on my forehead that would steadily flash “QUIET PLEASE” when I was nearing my threshold.