Don’t get me wrong; I talk to myself all the time. When I’m at home, I can tell myself that I am only talking to the cats—even when they are sleeping. But I don’t always do it out in public; at least not so much.
However, I notice that a lot of people DO talk to themselves in public, and loudly, too. Once I was in a bathroom stall at work, and two stalls over I could hear a woman muttering to herself. Now she had to have heard me open the door and walk in. But there she was, talking away. At one point she exclaimed loudly, “GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!” I did not want to know what that was all about.
While food shopping, I hear a lot of people muttering to themselves. I would, too, if I didn’t bring a list of stuff I need. But for the times when I forget to bring the dang list, I have to quickly make up a mnemonic so I can remember what I need, such as ASPIRINS:
- Ice cream
- Nasal spray
Of course, even using that, I have to keep muttering ‘aspirins, aspirins’ to myself.
Then there are those people who not only talk out loud to themselves, but they look right at you while they’re doing it. I can never figure out if they are really talking to me or just using me as a sounding board.
All this talking to oneself thing seemed to me to happen around the time of Blue Tooth technology. I would see people talking animatedly, with no one around. Once I saw their earpiece, I knew that they were not crazy, just plugged in.
Like anything else, talking to ourselves becomes a habit; it becomes so ingrained that we don’t even know we’re doing it. In my case, I often have to go into “public mode” when I leave the house so that I don’t start yapping to myself.
Back when I was living in the Carolinas, I noticed that a lot of people talk to themselves. Even when you catch their eye, they don’t look a bit ashamed; they just go right on with their one-way conversation. Early on, I was still too Yankee to appreciate the difference of living in the south. But you get used to it, even to the point where you sometimes answer back to the talker, or at least make a joke about it with them.
If anyone reading this used to watch “Designing Women” back when, you will remember the fabulous Delta Burke, who played Suzanne Sugarbaker. In one episode, the women were talking about craziness in general, and someone said that, in the North, they hide their crazy relatives away so that no one knows about them.
Suzanne just laughed and said, “well, here in the South we-all are proud of our crazy people. In fact, we put ’em right out on the front porch so that everyone can see them!”
Talking to oneself out loud in public does not always mean that the talker is crazy or off their meds. Sometimes it’s just a coping mechanism like rattling keys or whistling (the latter is my own coping mechanism; I whistle soft and low and try not to look nuts when I’m doing it).
The older I get, the more I notice things like this. I realize more than ever that we all are just trying to get through the day, and we all have our own ways of doing it.
So to all if us who sometimes talk out loud in public places, occasionally or all the time; I say this: “crazy is as crazy does.”