The Old Coot avoids long talkers. Sometimes.

We all have one or two of them in our lives: LONG TALKERS! If you don’t think you do, maybe it’s because you’re the long talker in your circle of friends and acquaintances. Long talkers go on and on and on. 

“How was the movie,” you naively ask. You don’t get a Siskel and Ebert thumbs up or thumbs down, you get a detailed, blow-by-blow replay of the whole film. A long talker will say, “The movie started with this big guy, Graham, who goes to Mars to find exotic minerals to bring his daughter out of a coma.” “Mars,” you say to yourself. “This is going to be bad.” Character after character is introduced. Event after event. Soon, you are so confused you forgot what the long talker is even going on about. You desperately want to kick yourself for asking in the first place.

This is when you focus on an exit strategy. It starts with hope. You “hope” the long talker will get a phone call. But, when he does, you discover he doesn’t let it interrupt his “talk,” he ignores it and says, “I’ll get back to them later.” So, you “hope” some more, wishing your phone would ring. But, it doesn’t. Then, you look around and “hope” someone will walk in and interrupt the one-way conversation. But, nobody does. 

Hope rarely works! That’s when you’re forced to switch to the “lie” strategy: you look at your watch and say, “Oh my, it’s 9:15, I have to get going.” It doesn’t work. The long talker acts like you didn’t say anything and continues the marathon recitation. Three more tries, three more lies, until you finally break free. You add a fourth lie, “I’ll catch up with you later; I want to know how the movie turned out.”

AS you hustle away, the long talker keeps at it, yelling out more of the movie’s plot. It gets you started on a long-term strategy, so you can avoid this situation, this person, in the future, by walking the other way when you spot him at a distance and installing an App on your phone that will make it ring when you squeeze it. And most important, you’ll have at the ready, a collection of lies to help you disengage from the clutches of a long talker, like a dentist appointment that you’re late for, or a kid waiting to be picked up. That sort of thing.

Short talkers can be just as frustrating. You know the ones, the strong silent type. They are perfectly comfortable standing next to you in total silence. You’re not. So, you try to engage them by asking a question, “Been doing anything exciting lately?” You get a quick, “No.” You try again, “This weather has been crazy, hasn’t it?” – “Yes,” is all you get. You keep at it but keep getting short yes and no responses. Sometimes just a shrug. You look around, hoping a long talker will come by, a perfect match for a short talker. But, it doesn’t happen. So, you lie and head for the restroom, hoping it has a window you can climb out. Long talkers and short talkers! 

Quite a challenge for us medium listeners.

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