In life, though, the gift of gab is sort of a rose. It’s beautiful, at times, and at others, it hurts me.
I also have this other “talent” that goes along with my gabby nature: I can put my foot in my mouth with such astounding ease you are left spell bound--sometimes in stitches--by the crap I just said. Like, for instance, the time I my friend Jen’s mom for the first time. Ugh. That was a beauty.
She’s a school teacher, and as it turned out, I was in school to be a teacher (now that is another story altogether). It is also important to note that in the week preceding my meeting my friend’s mom for the first time, 2 teachers from my former high school had been caught for sleeping with students, and one of them just the previous day. It was all over the news and certainly the topic of discussion in the office I worked at, and just about everywhere.
My friend’s mother asks me what I “do,” and tell her I am in school to be a teacher. She asks me what high school I went to and I say, “Oh Central! Ya know, where all the teachers sleep with the students!” A distinct look of shock came over her face and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had just made a complete fool of myself. My friend is laughing visibly because she thinks this is absolutely hysterical.
I, in my feeble attempt to salvage the conversation, actually make it worse by saying, “You know, it was on the news, that guy was arrested.” ...and I just couldn’t stop myself, “I never had sex with any of my teachers....” She’s nodding her head like and probably thinking something along the lines of I can’t believe this is the kind of company that my daughter keeps. And cue the mortification.
It was probably around this time (and surprisingly not before this) when I knew I needed to brush up on the art of keeping my mouth shut once in a while. Feeling out who you’re talking to is important, too. This comes NOT from talking, but instead from it’s counterpart--listening. Thank god people are capable of change. Sure, I may be a touch bossy and a little innately stubborn, but I am not beyond change, especially when you freak out one of your best friends’ mothers to such a magnitude as I did that particular day.
There is nothing--and I mean nothing--wrong with having something to say. I have things to say all of the time. But the ways in which we say them really are important. It’s like that thing my mom kept harping on when I was a child (that still rings in my head and makes me feel like my mother every time I say it to my husband) “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
Though sometimes, it really IS just what you say..... and those times, as I get older, I like to put more distance in between. I am quite sure that I will continue to (occasionally) put my foot in my mouth. Heck, it’s only natural. But I also value the art of conversation, and I’m striving to perfect my art by trying to listen more.
Some of us--maybe even you--are born with the gift of gab. It’s a great gift and probably why some people like us... but to keep relationships healthy and two-sided, we have to be great listeners who also respond accordingly. I am still working on this, and sometimes I have to remind myself of this because, really, who wants to listen to a bossy Italian wife dish it out if she can’t also take it???