I used to be a fast-talker.
Nursery rhymes and pithy poems tumbled out of my mouth, one after another in a dizzying pace, like a carousel moving too quickly in its circular motion.
As the years themselves tumbled by, my speech pattern remained constant: belt out that lesson, that lecture, that funny anecdote before the bell rang in a short 55 minutes.
Time rumbled by. I escaped my 55-minute cage and entered the world of the private educational business.
Running this very busy business, which consisted mainly of East Indian and Chinese clients, exacerbated my motor-mouth. The East Indians, the Middle-Easterners, and especially the Chinese spoke English faster than I in their frenzied cadence.
Picking up a voice mail from a South Indian and actually understanding it the first time around took the skills of an oral surgeon. Trying to extract meaning from such syllabic hash was not going to stymie me. No way, Jose. And so I continued to meet the challenge, replaying the voice mail until I broke the code. Aha! The caller’s child needed work in speech. Did we have a public speaking class available on Thursdays?
Then I retired. At the Rancho, I felt like a newly-minted Carmelite nun.
And then a slow-creeping disease, a little like leaf-rot, began to manifest itself in my home.
It looked like this:
(Cheri) I spent the day trying to write one paragraph on my thesis but the topic is so troubling, good God, why did I pick this particular book to dissect? Ron, do you remember when we used to dissect frogs in __________________________________
(Ron) Mr. Evan’s class?
(Cheri) Yes. I remember sitting next to _________________________________________
(Ron) Eric Belden?
(Cheri) Yes. He was the best student. In fact, I think he might have been_____________
(Ron) Number One in our Class?
(Cheri) God Dammit. Will you stop finishing my sentences?
The other night, while chopping celery for my chicken soup, I observed (aloud) that I was becoming a quieter person.
He had little to say about my self-analysis.
(Cheri) I suppose you will believe it when you hear it.