I just saw a study claiming that the common perception of women talking more than men is false. The study said they talk about the same amount. I simply don’t believe this. Although I have known a few garrulous men in my time, when I think about the talkers that I have known they have always been women. In this case I believe that the stereotype is basically true.
In my family I know this is true, especially on my father’s side. My father’s father almost never spoke. I remember visiting my grandparents as a child in the small town of Odell, Texas. It had this wonderful creek that ran near the outskirts of town, and as soon as we reached their house, I always wanted to immediately run down to the creek and start fishing. However, my parents always said that to run off like that without visiting a bit would be rude. So I would sit in the living room with my grandparents and my parents to put in my mandatory appearance.
My grandfather usually didn’t say a word, and neither did my father. My mother would talk a bit, but the conversation was almost solely carried on by my grandmother. I loved my grandmother dearly, but how she did talk! Over the years I noticed that at the breakfast table or anywhere else, she did 99.9% of the talking, whereas my grandfather would very rarely say a word…and when he did talk it was usually just that, a word, maybe two.
So we would be sitting in the living room, my grandmother would talk and soon my grandfather would nod off. To give him credit he worked hard all day as the foreman of a Santa Fe railroad track crew, and I’m sure the drowsy atmosphere and the talking of my grandmother, would simply lull him to sleep. After a while my grandmother would gradually wind down and the next thing you knew, she was asleep.
So there we would sit, me, still a small boy with lots of nervous energy, raring at the bit to run down to the creek to go fishing, and my mother and dad, and my sleeping grandparents…all sitting without a word in the living room. I remember it was almost all I could bear.
This interlude usually didn’t last too long before my grandmother would wake with a start and begin talkng where she left off. In later years I don’t remember my grandparents dozing off, but the same scenario always held, my grandfather sitting quietly, saying not a word and my grandmother doing all the talking.
It wasn’t just my grandfather that didn’t say anything, none of his brothers talked either. I never saw his oldest brother, so I can’t really say much about him, but if he was like his other brothers, then he too was a non-talker. I saw three of my grandfather’s brothers, and I never heard two of them say a single word. This was at my grandparent’s fiftyeth wedding anniversary though, and perhaps there wasn’t much for them to say. I also saw my grandfather’s sister there for the occasion, and yes, she said nothing the entire time. I did see two of his brothers on other occasions, however. Uncle Wes seemed to talk more than the others, but Uncle Lloyd…well, let’s say that Uncle Lloyd was unusual. He stayed with my grandparents a while (they often had a relative living with them), and I would see him when I visited. He actually stayed in the adjoining bunkhouse, but would come over for meals and would sit a while in the living room where the water cooler made it so nice. I would be in there, reading a book or something, and he would come in, sit down, put his head on his hand, and would sit there until supper time never saying a word.
At breakfast I remember that he mixed his jelly up thoroughly with the butter before applying it to his biscuits. I was fascinated by that and thought it was a great idea. However he never spoke at mealtimes. In fact the entire two weeks that I was there, he spoke not a word. I never heard him speak.
Now my father wasn’t that silent. He did speak a bit more, however as a child I thought that he was a mite quiet, and I remember my mother talking about how quiet he was. However, now he seems quiet loquacious and is very easy to talk to.
I was always quiet also, but I think that the expression of the “gene of silence” has been diluted in me, and I tend to be the most talkative. However, there are many times in company, where I don’t seem to feel much of a need to say anything, and so I sit there, silent…but hardly inscrutable.