Eloquence Escapes Me

And here’s “Indy’s Child’s” number two post…


Since the release of “Table for Six,” I’ve been asked to speak to a few select groups.

Here’s the conundrum…

There are many things I do well.

I can fire a softball from centerfield to home with laser precision. I can change a diaper while simultaneously holding an infant and coaxing a preschooler into bed. I can belt out an aria that would make you sit up and take notice.

Listening? I’m a great listener.

My penmanship (when I put forth the effort) is fairly nice.

I can sing every bad 80’s lyrics that you are unable to recall, and I can spell anything if I’ve seen it in print at least once.

I’m pretty good at conceiving and growing babies. (And I’m still working on that parenting part.)

After several critical fails, I’ve learned to become a true and loyal friend.

But what I’m most definitely not good at?

Speaking in front of a group.

That group might consist of my family, my closest friends, my book club members, my work colleagues, complete strangers, fidgety third graders… it doesn’t matter.

I learned in my many years of Catholic education that where two or more are gathered in His name, God is present. In my own existence, where two or more are gathered to hear me open my mouth, my tongue inevitably fails me.

One on one, I’m great. I can have a heartfelt, meaningful, intelligent conversation with my husband and best friends. I can converse with any stranger in a room.

But put me in front of a crowd? Epic fail.

I’ve never been much of a verbal storyteller, have never been able to pull off a well-timed punch line. When I sang in front of crowds, I always had to rely on a beta blocker to soothe my jangled nerves. But even singing was better than speaking. Because singing allowed me to prepare, to rehearse, to learn every note precisely.

Off the cuff, I’m a disaster.

And not only can I not convey my most scintillating thoughts and feelings, but I actually excel at blurting out stupid, nonsensical syllables directly from my gaping maw. Phrases such as, “stuff and stuff…” and “blah, blah, blah…” and “ummm.”

My favorite self faux pas? Incorrectly using a word, a cliche, or an idiom. As in, “Keep your nose to the ground.” Um, that would actually be, “Keep your ear to the ground.” Or perhaps, “Keep your nose to the grindstone.” Wrong body part? Wrong destination? You pick.

Those who don’t know me well must think I’m a blubbering idiot. Those who do know me well probably think twice about their choice of companions.

I used to think my inability to express myself adequately was attributable to early onset Alzheimer’s. Now I’m pretty sure it’s just a fundamental flaw.

My written words may not always be resplendent, but they sure beat the crap out of their verbal opponents. Every time.

That’s not saying much, though.

I think Lucy and Maggie might express themselves more eloquently.

And they eat their own poop.

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