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It never fails. If you are a happily (or unhappily) married man and have been for a number of years, your bride will initiate this conversation during a road trip.
And if she hasn’t done it yet, don’t worry. It’s coming.
It goes something like this: “Say something. We’ve gone 200 miles and you haven’t said a single word to me. And don’t tell me you’re quiet from driving and paying attention to the road, either.
“I know you haven’t been paying attention. If you were, then you’d be heeding the directions I’ve been giving you since we backed out of the garage four hours ago.”
I told you this may sound a little familiar.
But what’s so wrong with not having much to say?
At this point of my life, I figure I’ve been uttering, muttering, talking, speaking and hollering for close to fourscore now. You can do the math.
Given that, maybe I’ve just run out of stuff to talk about. And is that really so bad?
Once, when I had a strong opinion on a matter, I wrote the newspaper to voice it.
Bless Pete, that was big a mistake. I ended up getting blessed out by a wannabe deer hunter, a pig farmer and a bleach blonde.
That just goes to show that sometimes, it’s best for us to keep our thoughts to ourselves.
But then, holding back can cause its share of trouble, too.
After learning that a dear friend was confined to a local nursing home, I decided to drop in on him for a visit and just sorta sit for a spell.
His family cautioned me before I went.
“He won’t talk anymore and just sits there staring at the TV,” one of them said.
Oh well, regardless of the circumstances, I didn’t see how taking a few minutes from my busy great-daddying schedule to go see him could harm anything.
Ushered to his private room, there he sat, as quiet as a church mouse.
He glanced my way and broke out into a big Christmas morning grin. Goodness gracious, there wasn’t nothing wrong with him at all.
“What in heaven’s name are you hanging out here for?” I asked.
“It’s simple,” he said. “I’ve run out of things to say.”
Now to me, that made pretty good sense. After all, he’s been here longer than me which means he’s used a lot more words than I ever will.
Over the years, I’d wager he’s probably discussed the merits of every subject from mules to moon walks.
However, this dear friend’s silence shouldn’t be misconstrued as being out of touch. He knows what’s going on.
He asked me if the new courthouse was in use and I told him about the recent groundbreaking.
He asked if County Council members are going to be bronzed and placed on a tall marker similar to the Confederate soldier guarding the old courthouse.
“That suggestion came from a bunch of trial lawyers, some circuit riding judges and the uptown merchant’s association,” he said.
I told him right quick I hadn’t heard of any such plan.
Even if I had, I wouldn’t dare admit to it. I’ve learned my lesson. These days in Lancaster County, such comments have cyberspace buzzards sitting in waiting.
I have to admit his logic for silently staring at the television picture tube made good sense, too.
“I’m fed up with cable reruns of crime shows,” he said. Now he opts to sit and look at the flickering screen until his eyesight blurs.
That doesn’t mean he’s bored, though.
“I’m content with my situation,” he said. “I don’t have to offer an opinion on anything ’cause some things never change.”
I left there that day with a new perspective about the fine art of conversation. I also made a decision.
The next long trip we make, I’m gonna talk until somebody tells me to hush up.
It can be downright dangerous to sit around and say nothing, even when you don’t have nothing to say. I reckon that’s where politicians get that from.
When you’re old and quit talking, somebody gets ready to call the undertaker and you know they don’t do returns.