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.
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.