Monday, August 9, 2010

The hind leg off a donkey

My husband's sister has just decamped after three solid days of nonstop talking--we listened to hundreds of hours of pressured, pointless, controlling, and profoundly boring discussion of unrelated minutiae, one incoherent topic chained tightly to the next.

She told us about every single plant in her garden, the weave of the carpet on the stairs of an apartment she rented in her twenties, the many things an old boyfriend spake unto her, the provenance of a specific stone on an ankle bracelet, the mysterious mixing bowl with the flowers on it,  how many times, exactly, she went to the store and why and who she took with her, the names and individual habits of her three hermit crabs,  and the night she spent at the Red Roof Inn and why the Red Roof Inn is superior to the Comfort Inn and Motel Six.

She was so busy talking it became impossible to do anything--when we finally got her dislodged, after many overt prompts and signals, to, say,  go for a ride on our lovely boat in perfect weather on the bright blue waters of Mallets Bay, she just kept yakking away, so utterly absorbed by all the unsaid things that she couldn't even notice her surroundings.
Now that she's gone, I can uncoil long enough to understand that this strange affliction is probably a kind of mania and not her fault. But it feels like her fault--the woman can talk the hind leg off a donkey.

Of course I can be intolerant and uncharitable, but my husband, in contrast, is amazingly polite, always willing to make other people's comfort a priority even if it means being excruciatingly uncomfortable himself. Yet even he had had enough when he had to listen to a lengthy disquisition on how she calculates her car mileage in this certain specific way.

What kind of life is that? Is it a life that someone would choose? Of course not. It must be torment for her as much as it is for the people around her, but she cannot simply stop. What's that old joke about the twelve-step program for manics? Alanononononononon.

I'm glad she's gone, and of course now I feel guilty in that gladness, but the peace that descended as soon as she left was blissful beyond description.

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