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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Of Course, Running in the Opposite Direction is an Option as Well


The woman on the elevator turns to me. “I have a very serious illness you know,” she says.

No. I didn’t know that. But soon I will, and do you know why?

Because I have the face that launches a thousand confessions.

“I wanted to name my first dog Bowser,” says the man on the bus.

“Is that right,” I say.

There is a silence.

“You want to know why I didn’t?” he says.

“Sure,” I say. “Hit me.”

“Because my mom thought it was a terrible name.”

I look at him. His mom? By all appearances, he appears to be firmly entrenched in his 60s.

“Well what’s it to her?” I ask.

“EXACTLY,” he shouts. Heads turn and he leans in to whisper angrily. “Exactly. What the bricken bracken fargle raggen was it to her?”

He didn’t really say “bricken bracken fargle raggen” of course. He was a bit more vehement than that.

But you get the picture.

I assure him that Bowser is a perfectly reasonable name for a dog, and I get off the bus two stops earlier than I need to.

It’s good for my legs.

My father has this face as well, this tell-me-your-secrets face. “Does it hurt to listen?” he says. “No. You nod, you take them seriously, you let them speak. People just want to be heard.”

And so I let them speak. Because it doesn’t cost anything to listen. Because the more people there are, the fewer voices we hear.

And because it is the way of my people.

50 comments:

Shelly said...

I am of your people, too, and proud of it.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

I must have the same face. I deliberately avoid eye contact with some because days I'm not up to being dumped on. You get to hear some interesting and surprising things, tho!

middle child said...

Listening is what most people really need from us. And we don't realize it. We try instead to interupt with our solutions to their problems or turn it into a similar situation happening to us. I admire your people.
I am from the Kitchen Table Peaople and yes...we do refer to it as such.

Geo. said...

Most of us boys go through a stage of wanting to name something Bowser and just don't. We never get over it.

haphazardlife said...

And because it gives us good stories.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I recall as a young woman (read teenager) coming home and whining to my mother, "Why does everyone want to tell me their problems?". So many people have no one. You are fulfilling an important function AND it's blog fodder.

Linda Myers said...

I'm a listener also. Way back when, I needed to be heard myself. Now I am willing to do it for others. Everyone needs to be heard. We're all in this together.

esbboston said...

As sure as Thor is my witness, I wiLL incorporate “bricken bracken fargle raggen” into my vocab even if I have to use a cue card. I chose Thor because I thought it might be Norse.

esbboston said...

There is another Pearl who wrote this eXact same story, Google told me so ...

esbboston said...

Oh sorry, your version (today) is slightly shorter. I think it must be because words are slightly more eXpensive than they were last year.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Smile and nod, Pearl, smile and nod. :)

NotesFromAbroad said...

It happens to me, I do as you do but my husband .. oy ! he mutters to me not to pay attention, don't look at them, do. not. get. into. a. conversation. with. that . person !!!
but I do anyway.
so far so good, I am alive to tell the tale and not even some cooties on me to show for it.
love you Pearl.

esbboston said...

When I asked Google Translate to detect the language automaGically and turn it into English, the only thing it did was change raggen to Raggen, so that might be a proper noun. You probably can't use it as a name in Iceland though.

esbboston said...

Hah! Its Old Swedish for the devil ....

fmcgmccllc said...

I used to have a friend like you, if there was a wacko within the scent of her they would find her. We did an experiment once in Saltillo Mexico, she went to the ladies first and when she came back to the lounge/bar I was alone. I went to the ladies and when I came back she had a wacko with her.

wellfedfred said...

the face that launched a thousand confessions - yup, runs in my family, too. Thank you for identifying it, I thought we were just weird.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I handle little kids the same way. Listen, nod, affirm their feelings.

Eva Gallant said...

Better to be the listener than the compulsive confessor!!

Pearl said...

There are a lot of beautiful people out there, when we choose to listen.

Of course, there are some weirdos (yesterday's post!!) as well. I ran into a homeless man this morning (not literally, of course) who really looked at me, if you know what I mean. It's kind of stuck with me all morning... May have to write about it...

Pat said...

When the Samaritans first started in London people would wait for hours to speak to its founder Chad Varah. Church helpers would give tea to the waiters and chat to them and nine times out of ten that was all they needed - a sympathetic ear.
So that is how the Samaritans of today evolved.
You're a good samaritan Pearl.

joeh said...

In NYC they do not need anyone to listen, they just talk outloud to themselves.

Your bus could be a reality TV show.

"Here comes Pearly's bus bus"

or maybe not

Perpetua said...

I think being willing to listen to people is one of the best gifts you can give them, Pearl. I often and up in conversation with people on public transport, just because I'm willing to listen and respond.

Buttons said...

I listen too and have found getting off the bus early sometimes is a good thing but most times I listen right to the end.:) I agree most people just need someone to listen it can be a lonely place out there. B

Stephen Hayes said...

I also have a face that makes people want to confess or tell me dark secrets. And then these people have the audacity to tell me not to write about it!

Friko said...

That’s so nice of you.

Or do you do it because it gives you amusing copy? Could I come and weep on your shoulder, please?

Pearl said...

I'm really pushed for time today, but I just wanted to say, in reply to Friko, that I listen because I'm interested. And because sometimes there's a story there. :-) But even before I wrote, I listened.

And yes. I will always have a shoulder for you, Friko. :-)

Eggs In My Pocket said...

OH my goodness! LOL. I always have the habit when someone passes by and says hello, I respond with hello, how are you?.....and they usually stop and start telling me exactly how they are...........and I can't break away even when I am in a hurry...........sigh.....smile

jenny_o said...

Your father is right.

And sometimes getting off the bus early is right, too!

Say What? said...

It happens to me, too. All . The . Time. I like your father's take on it. Maybe I'll be a little more patient next time. (And trust me, there will be a next time)

Bodacious Boomer said...

I bartended while in college. Perhaps that's what set me up for a life of listening to anybody and everybody; but overall I enjoy it. Some of the nutjobs have been really entertaining.

Macy said...

There's an old Yorkshire saying that goes something like, All t' world's queer, 'cept thee an' me; and th'art a bit odd lately

Is there anyone that no one thinks is odd?

The Six-Fingered Monkey said...

And because, like I always say, t makes for GREAT blog fodder!

Hey, when can I make an appointment to tell you MY life story?

Rene Foran said...

Once, whilst riding the T, an old chap sat next to me and leaned it whispering, "Children know nothing about ballistics."
I nodded in agreement.
Crazy yet true

Hilary said...

Your father and his daughter are wise. People do indeed need to be heard. What else could be behind the popularity of blogs? ;)

Kevin Musgrove said...

"Do you mind, love, if I lean against you while we're waiting for the bus to come?"

"Why? Are you particularly tired?"

"No, I've got an horrible skin disease."

TexWisGirl said...

you are kinder than most...

Ian Lidster said...

You're a very kind person, Peggy Pearl, but I've always suspected that.
There is a town about 30 miles south of here named Bowser. Maybe that guy's mom came from there and that was where she got pregnant with him. It could have happened.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You are kind to listen..Minnesota nice:)

Daisy said...

I think it is because you have such kind eyes. People can tell you will be a sympathetic listener. Listeners are good people. :-)

Linda O'Connell said...

I feel the same way your dad does. Once I did a book signing and an old man stood at our table and yakked for an hour, which irritated the other author. So it ruined HER day, but it made his!

HermanTurnip said...

The wife and I have decided to name out next cat 'Shingles'. It's has a snappy ring to it!

Rose L said...

Huh! A family tradition.
I must be distantly related as I get many telling me their woes and secrets. I have been told I am a good listener.

The Elephant's Child said...

I blame it on pheronomes rather than my face, but the effect is the same. I have even had people I have listened to on the bus come up to me days later and introduce their families. Which is kind of nice. And it is not as if I am engrossed on a plan for world peace or a cure for cancer while I sit on the bus...

Indigo Roth said...

Pearl, I am similarly blessed/afflicted. Better than random stuff tho, I am entrusted with the world's secrets. And I carry them well, never to be spoken. It gets kinda noisy in here sometimes. Roth x

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Herman! That's "Mister Shingles", surely?

River said...

I like "Middle Child's" Kitchen Table People.
I have the sort of face that says "come to my checkout, I'll happily process your packed to the rafters trolley of goods that you want home delivered". sigh.

sage said...

Do you also offer absolution, Priest Pearl?

Of course, if they knew their secrets were going to be shared with the multitude of blog friends they may think twice before opening their mouths :)

That Janie Girl said...

You freakin' rock, Pearl.

you're a great listener!!

xoxoxo

Douglas said...

I have this sudden urge to unburden myself on you, Pearl... strange.

I, too, faced rejection for the name I wanted for my first dog. I had chosen "Rex" but my parents decided that this was a poor choice for a female dog. It is probably the cause of my misspent (but thoroughly enjoyed) youth.

Mel said...

I come from the tell me your story clan too, it's a combination of eye contact and kindness that is apparently irresistible. You're right though, sometimes, you get some amazing stories.