If you’re ever in a coastal Carolina grocery store and see a seemingly normal-looking woman walking down the aisle who suddenly says something that makes no sense within the context of the situation and then looks embarrassed, it might be me. Like, she’s standing by the cheese, comparing the merits of regular vs. reduced fat extra sharp cheddar cheese finely shredded, and suddenly you hear, “You know that’s just way too fast.” It’ll be a random comment, sandwiched between relatively normal behavior, that would be fine except for the fact that it’s contextually grossly misplaced, and said aloud, in a full-volume voice, to no one. Given that I don’t really hear other people doing this, I’m thinking the odds of this person being me are pretty high.
Usually, what happens is I’m having a fast-paced interior drama going on in my head and it’s like I forget that it’s just in my head. It’s similar to those people at the movies that insist on talking to the characters on the screen aloud. As if the characters can hear them and might actually change their actions if only they heard Bob’s opinion on the matter. My husband and I once went to a showing of A Few Good Men where, when it got to the part in the movie where Tom Cruise is questioning Jack Nicholson on the stand and basically trying to get him to confess his crime, at the most tense moment of silence, the lady behind us said, “Think, think, think!” at full volume, with each “think” sounding louder and more constipated than the one before. Almost 20 years later, this is still a joke in the Island family.
The first time I spoke aloud to myself in public, I don’t remember what I said or where I was, but I do remember laughing. “Wow, that sounded really stupid,” I thought, and looked quickly around to see if anyone had noticed. The second time it happened, it was slightly less funny. Now, it makes me nervous. It’s not like it happens all the time, by any means, and when I do, I’m most likely to be at home or on the beach, where the waves usually drown out my faux pas. But on the other hand, I think I’m trending up.
So, what if I’m on the fast track to turning into the Think, think, think! lady? I need for this to not happen. My family needs for this to not happen. The Greater Good and possibly World Peace need for this to not happen.
It occurs to me that perhaps this is a result of island living, particularly because my island is smaller with a more relaxed lifestyle. Could this be a curious side effect of my big city to small island move? Because, I don’t recall ever doing this in Chicago. Living here has rid me of so many needless inhibitions, but maybe it’s slowly erasing the good ones as well. If so, what’s next, bodily functions in public? Please no.
Does anyone have any advice on how to squelch this behavior? My fear is that if I don’t rein it in now, my children might grow up thinking it’s normal, or even desirable behavior. Imagine my three kids in middle school, purposely initiating awkward social behavior in an attempt to fit in. The thought is enough to make me start talking to myself right now.
And I’m in a coffee shop.