…or as we say in English, bitch, bitch, bitch. I picked up my telephone last week to hear a friend I worked with in Illinois who has since moved to Minnesota to be closer to her son and his family. The three grandchildren are bright, busy and growing up quickly, as children are wont to do. My friend and her husband quickly adjusted to life in the new environment and met a number of people in the senior set with whom they socialize. It just happens that instead of sharing any of the more interesting aspects of her life and activities, in short order her conversation reverts back to upsetting events from her long past history, and then she prods with questions about my past history, which I believe I have closed doors to and moved on to new people, places, activities. I have exhausted my treasure chest of suggestions, what has worked for me in my most difficult times and when I can interject a thought after one tirade or another, I thank her for her call and explain that I need to get ready for work or an appointment, which is usually the case. When I hang up the receiver, (yes, I still use a land line) I feel drained and exhausted, not like I had a stimulating chat with an old friend.
As a society I believe we have succumbed to the habit of complaining about everything from the weather, to household appliance problems and breakdowns, to automobile shortcomings, to the brainless advertisements on television. When we are searching for small talk with people we do not really know, but come into contact with we feel obliged to say something, though who knows what, so of course we start with the crumby or magnificent weather. The ice may be broken, but what follows? Generally nothing and what is the point, aside from exchanging sounds in an otherwise silent room.
It is always my hope that something I can say will soothe or encourage, or become a tool for my friend, but usually I am unable to detect any progress with getting the needle off the broken record, or taking the magnetic tape out of the continuous replay mode.
It must be time to go for a walk in the woods, or along the canal.