“I LIKED it all right, but what was that whole thing at the end?“ This is me after most movies, because I just MAY have been talking during them.

“I LIKED it all right, but what was that whole thing at the end?“


This is me after most movies, because I just MAY have been talking during them.


Just a little of course, but about almost anything: the popcorn I spilled when I fumbled the giant-sized tub that’s as big as your chest, or the raw carrots I slipped into my back pocket that were now digging painfully into my backside. Or maybe I was asking my friend beside me, “IS THAT THE GUY? Isn’t that the same guy from the beginning?”


That person generally just stares straight ahead, like a man waiting for a bus.


This talking when I shouldn’t be talking: It's been a problem for me in life.


I talked to my best friend all through worship services when I was 12. Who wouldn’t talk, with the whole parade of humanity passing by? How funny they all looked to me!


But then everything is funny when you’re 12. And I just wanted to share the joke.


This “sharing” started when I was in second grade at the nun’s school where I whispered so much in class that one day Sister Mary Suffering went red in the face, shouted that I was expelled and put me out, all alone to wait for my mother, at the remote edge of the convent property.


There I stood by the box of textbooks she also put out with me, because in Catholic school you have to buy your books. When you go, the books go.


“What will I do NOW?” I’m too little to get a job!” That was my first thought standing out there as the El screeched by overhead.    


My second thought: “Mom is going to lift Sister Mary Suffering clean off the ground for this.”


And so she did, or almost did.


My mother was 50. I was 7. And poor Sister Mary Suffering was barely 20, with scant experience in the classroom.


“You EXPEL a child for talking?” Mom bit each word hard as it left her mouth. “Don’t you know that a child who is talking is a child who is bored?” And so on.


Poor Sister Suffering; she wasn’t our teacher anymore after that. We were told she had gone away for a rest somewhere.


So I was off the hook for that crime anyway.


It was different later when I got all those detentions for whispering in 7th grade: detentions and punishments like having to write "I will not talk in class" 10,000 times. And one memorable demerit that made me feel so ashamed.


Luckily, I grew up. I became a teacher myself and so got to talk for a living. Hurrah!


Then I turned to writing and tending babies and things got quiet for a while - until I began getting asked to give funny speeches and even workshops.


More talking! Double hurrah! It was such fun making people laugh. Seeing them come alive like that.


I did this for three decades, and then …


Almost overnight …


I went quiet.


I’m quiet still.


Used to be, in book groups or at community board meetings I talked my head off. Now I say hardly a word.


It’s not that that I’m sleepy, or that that I have no ideas. It’s certainly not that I’m uninterested in what’s being said.


It’s just that all these year in, I find I would rather hear what others have to say than talk myself.


All these years of being in “Transmit,” I am finally, gratefully, on “Receive.”


Respite for all!


Terry can be reached at terrymarotta@verizon.net or care of Ravenscroft Press, P.O. Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890. Her column goes all over the country, as does her daily blog Exit Only, which is at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com.