If you can't say anything worthwhile …

Janet's World

May 07, 2010|By Janet Gilbert

Of late, my life has been marked by some unnecessary conversation, and I'm going to put a stop to it. Right away! Though I must concede that this temporal qualifier is probably unnecessary.

This came to my attention last weekend, when my husband and I were out gardening, or, more accurately, preparing to garden. In our average-size yard, there is always at least a full weekend's worth of nasty spring cleanup to do before we even get to the really fun part of gardening, such as taking a break on the patio with a glass of iced tea.

One of our son's friends had just been dropped off at our home. My husband walked into the backyard where I was pulling my 79th heinous Maryland thistle weed to let me know that she had arrived.

"Oh, good," I said. "Did you say 'Hi?'"

"No," he said, pausing just a moment. "I just stared at my feet."

This brought to my attention that it was wholly unnecessary for me to ask the question, "Did you say 'Hi?' " Only a dolt would not greet a guest. So I told my husband that I suddenly realized my question was a perfect example of unnecessary, fluffy, air-filler conversation, and that I would be eliminating such verbiage from now on, or for at least the balance of the day, whichever came first.

Later in the afternoon, when I was reaching for my 187th staggeringly vicious Maryland thistle weed, my husband walked back to tell me that he had just filled in the two huge ditches left in our front yard by the county's snow-removal equipment with some bags of topsoil. He asked if I would mind talking a break to see how it looked and give him my opinion.

"I think I need to get a few more bags," he stated.

I was about to say, "You think?" when I realized this phrase would be yet another example of unnecessary conversation, and it deserved to die in my head before reaching my lips. I studied the holes he had filled, and ascertained quickly that, indeed, we needed a few more bags of topsoil. I then replied astutely, "Yes, you do. I think four will do it."

He contemplated my response, cleverly not saying anything inane, because two can play this game of eliminating meaningless conversation.

We stood silently a few minutes, until I couldn't stand it anymore. I said, "Did you notice how I did not say 'You think?' which would have been yet more useless conversation, and instead replied with a much more interesting and informative response?"

"No," he said.

"I just eliminated unnecessary conversation," I said, proudly.

"What would you call this, then?" he said.

It was a good point.

Nonetheless, I remain undeterred in my goal of halting uninteresting and aimless conversation. A few years ago, I read in a popular women's magazine about a married couple who decided not to talk to each other about their ailments as they aged, and I quickly adopted this idea. Probably because it was easier than adopting the contents of the other cover story, which was "Twenty Ways to Please Your Man."

Let's face it, it is frankly boring to hear about how your knee hurts more today than it did yesterday, or how your eyes are dry and itchy, or how you pulled your lower back muscle pulling your 211th annoyingly prolific Maryland thistle weed. The rule around here is, you can only talk about this kind of stuff if you are paying someone to listen.

So let us not fill the air with lame verbosity, however tempting this may be for those of us who are really, really awesome at it. Let us only open our mouths to impart meaningful concepts, such as, "What gourmet meal will you be preparing for me this Mother's Day?"

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