Hartley: Pity the poor, misunderstood loquaciavore | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: Pity the poor, misunderstood loquaciavore

It has been brought to my attention — three times now in the last few weeks — that I apparently have the gift of gab. A lot of you might think I should know this already, given how frequently I’m told to please shut the hell up, but, in truth, it didn’t really dawn on me until back in November, and I think I know why.

You see, I work from home, and between sitting at a computer to write and hiking with a couple of dogs for company, I spend most of my day not saying anything. In that regard, I’ve always tended to think of myself as a man of few words (“few” being a very relative term).

In an average day, I spend about seven hours sleeping, six hours at my computer, two hours with the dogs and two hours shopping for or preparing food. That’s 17 hours of no words, and it’s not like I’m talking up a storm for the other seven hours, given that I’m an antisocial curmudgeon.

According to some studies, men speak about 7,000 words every 24 hours. I figure most days I’m probably in the 4,000-word range. That means that every 24 hours I’m falling 3,000 words short of my average. Thus, on the rare occasions when I’m actually in the presence of other people in social settings, I have to talk constantly to make up for all the words I didn’t say earlier in the week.

To outward appearances, it would seem as though I were a big talker when, in fact, I’d merely be trying to correct my word deficit. I can see how that might be a little confusing.

It bothers me, though, to know that people think I talk a lot because it’s a violation of one of my favorite song lyrics, courtesy of the Grateful Dead: “Please don’t dominate the rap, Jack, if you’ve got nothing new to say.”

Evidently, I’ve been dominating the rap, Jack, and I think it’s safe to assume I’ve just been spewing the same old blather I’ve been talking about forever. I apologize for that, but I don’t have a lot of entertaining new stories ever since I cut back on my drinking years ago.

The one saving grace of this whole affair is that the three totally unconnected people who brought my talking to my attention didn’t seem all that bothered by it. There were no accusations that I talked too much or gripes about the steady stream of drivel issuing from my lips. Each just very politely said the exact same phrase: “You like to talk, Todd.”

I guess it must be true then; I like to talk. In hindsight, I probably should have figured it out when I chose “I’ve got nothing to say, and I’m only going to say it once” as my senior quote in the high school yearbook.

But like I said before, I don’t really think my excess speaking has that much to do with whether I enjoy it. I think it’s just a natural reaction to the circumstances of my existence. In fact, one could argue that it’s something biological over which I have no control. It’s almost like an immune-system response that my body produces automatically.

I’m not talkative; I just have a disorder, and I’ll thank you not to go pointing it out all the time. That’s very rude and insensitive of you. I am not an animal. I am a human being.

To the best of my knowledge, there’s currently no medical name for the malady with which I’m afflicted. The most correct lay term, I imagine, would be loquaciousness, which has caused me to think up a word that I believe describes me and my condition aptly.

You’ve heard the word “locavore,” right? A locavore is defined as “one who eats food grown locally as much as possible.” Well, I would consider myself a “loquaciavore,” which, of course, is defined as “one who talks to anyone in one’s locality as much as possible.”

The difference is that locavores can choose their lifestyle, whereas we loquaciavores are stuck with what may as well be a congenital defect. I dare say my brand of loquaciousness ought to qualify as a disability. I should get a handicapped parking permit.

Everyone would win in that scenario because the closer to the store I’m allowed to park, the fewer people I’ll annoy in the parking lot with my incessant yapping.

Todd Hartley was the subject of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://www.zerobudget.net.