Imaginary Friends for Grownups

12 08 2009

As I was shopping I became aware of a one-sided conversation taking place not far from me.  Not one-sided in the sense that one person runs on endlessly, not giving the other person a chance to get a word in edgewise.  Rather it was like a telephone conversation where there is presumably give and take, but you’re only hearing half of the dialogue.  I gradually came to the awareness that a woman in the next aisle was carrying on thusly, but with no one in particular.  She wasn’t bothering anyone, and her ramblings ranged over a wide gambit, though they frequently seemed to wend their way back to ranting about her ex-husband.

As I pondered her situation, it occurred to me that she and I were more similar that I liked to admit.  I don’t really know the process by which other people “think,” but I frequently “think” in conversation mode, an imaginary script played out in my mind, between me and some nameless “other.”  I’m afraid it may be a very small step to the point at which I’m actually verbalizing that discourse, and strangers around me peer at me with raised eyebrows and avoid standing in my vicinity.

One Person, Or Two?

One Person, Or Two?

I may be a little odd, but I take comfort in knowing that I’m not totally unique, as this quotation from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, suggests she shares my proclivity to mental repartee:

Left to its own devices, my mind spends much of its time having conversations with people who aren’t there.  I walk along defending myself to people, or exchanging repartee with them, or rationalizing my behavior, or seducing them with gossip, or pretending I’m on their TV talk show or whatever.  I speed or run an aging yellow light or don’t come to a full stop, and one nanosecond later am explaining to imaginary cops exactly why I had to do what I did, or insisting that I did not in fact do it.

…I happened to mention this to a hypnotist…I thought he was feeling around on the floor for the silent alarm button.




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