I like to be left alone. I do not want to talk to anyone. If I am left alone, I can spend time inside my head. I can’t stay inside my head if people talk to me.
Today at the YMCA, old man after old man approached me trying to start a conversation. This happened in the dressing room, workout areas and shower. I politely dodged having conversations with them.
I was dressed and gathering up my stuff to leave when a man came in and started to use a locker near me. He saw the bunch of bananas I had. (I like to eat bananas after I work out.) He approached me while he was undressing.
“I have a song I like to sing to kids about bananas,” he said.
He started singing I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones while he was still getting undressed. And then he was naked and hadn’t finished the song! I wanted to shout, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
It was bad enough that I had a naked man singing me a song, but then he started to scratch himself you know where. He was singing and scratching at the same time! Is that talent or what?
I was polite and waited for him to finish the song. And then I got the hell out of there!
Sometimes I want an ear. All I need is an ear. But I get a mouth, and the mouth is full of shoulds and more shoulds and still more shoulds.
The mouth means well, and wants to help. But if the mouth understood boundaries, then it would change into an ear.
The problem with this world is that there are too many mouths and not enough ears.
My poor daughters! They have the Johnston propensity to ramble on and not get to the point.
Think of the point as being the first sentence of Chapter 49. The first sentence is all you need to know and ask about. If you ask a Johnston, then you’re going to get all the details from Chapters 1 to 48 before hearing the first sentence of Chapter 49. It’s not necessary to hear all the details, but you’ll hear them anyway.
My brother went to the doctor to get test results. I asked him, “What did the doctor say?”
“I woke up before the alarm went off,” he said, “and thought I would get up early to give myself lots of time to get to the ten o’clock doctor’s appointment. So I—”
“What did the doctor say?” I asked again interrupting his rambling.
“If you’d shut up and listen, then I’ll tell you.” He continued, “So I got up and took my time having a shower and making breakfast. I don’t like rushing. I—”
“I just want to know what the doctor said.”
“If you’d shut up and stop interrupting, then I’ll tell you!”
“But you’re telling me about what you did in the morning. I just want to know what the doctor told you.”
“So let me finish. Keep your mouth shut and let me finish! Stop interrupting. He continued, “So I made . . . ”
Sigh! I gave up. I listened to what my brother made for breakfast; how he left at 8:30 to give himself lots of time; how he saw his neighbor when leaving and what they talked about; the traffic conditions on his way to the doctor’s office; where he parked his car at the doctor’s office; how he had arrived way before ten, but still had to wait well after ten to see the doctor. Finally — FINALLY! — he told me what the doctor said which, symbolically, was the first sentence of Chapter 49. Being a Johnston, he was unable to tell me the first sentence of Chapter 49 without giving me every single detail from Chapters 1 to 48.
Years ago a friend asked me, “Johnston, why is it that when I ask you about your car, you start telling me how your dog is doing?”
I did not know the answer then. Now I know it’s all part of being a Johnston.