“You still can never just ANSWER a question,” my dear friend said to me while giggling over the phone tonight.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I said, my voice totally deadpan for comedic emphasis.
It’s on of my many habits.
We all have them — those things we have just always done. We picked them up someplace, I’m sure, but we don’t remember where now, it’s been so long. And, we’ve done these little things for so long they have become as worn in and deep as the wrinkles on our foreheads or the smile lines around our mouth: We cannot undo them now.
One thing I have never been able to do is just simply answer a question directly. I rarely — if ever — just offer up a yes or no, or a one-sentence answer.
I have what an editor of mine once called “the wind up.”
Freddie (my editor) called it “clearing your throat, and letting people get the answer you want to give them but in a manner that gives context to why you’d answer like that in the first place.”
He was right. In fact, he nailed it.
In writing, that is what we effectively want to do: SHOW the point not just TELL it. Grab someone’s hand and let them see the scenery around you and view things through your eyes so you can get them to understand your point of view in the first place.
In speaking, however, it’s less than efficient.
I can’t stop, though, even when I try I can’t shut off “the wind up.”
It just comes out.
Sometimes, I’ll even acknowledge that I’m doing it with a disclaimer at the front by saying “you know me, I always have a story.”
I’m much better in writing than I am in person, I always think.
I do love discovering other people’s habits, though.
Like how a friend will call attention to something I’m doing simply so she can avoid the topic I’m trying to chat with her about.
That’s how you know you’re truly friends, I think. When your habits slam into another persons in just the right way to make you both realize there’s no real need to pretend you don’t have these little imperfections and quirks.
Because with some people it doesn’t matter.
And you can pick up right where you left off even though it’s been months since you last spoke.
And your friends’ habits feel like home.