Silence is Golden, (Or is It?)

by Joan Houghton

Here is the quandary:  You are seated at a different dining table for six at your  retirement community  for dinner each evening.   Some nights the conversation is lively and stimulating; sometimes not.  When there is a definite lag or complete silence,  what should one do?   You could just relax and enjoy the peaceful scene  or you could try to jump in with an item of trivia , or describe a personal event, or even one of rather  large  importance taken from the news.

I  belong to the latter group–who feels a compulsion to leap forward with SOMETHING—and I mean —ANYTHING.  The alternative is  that you can sit back, fiddle with your napkin, rearrange your silverware, take sips of water, re-adjust your chair,  clear your throat, even blow your nose.  Or you can cast your eyes around the room wondering if other tables have a paucity of discourse at that moment also.  It becomes a problem when your eyes light on a person across the room who is facing you and she seems to have the identical  situation and you really do not want to seem to be  constantly staring at her.

Oh my—finally, you attempt comments about the weather; recent observations about the Civil War history (hopefully that is safe).  Then it comes to mind: there are Southerners at the table.  Are they among those who are still fighting the War?

Does anyone know how Ruby is doing .  Is she still in the hospital?  Did you see “Dancing With the Stars” last night ?  How is Coach Ferentz doing with the football recruiting?   Does anyone know what the law is in regard to requirements for citizenship related to being President of the United States?  (Be careful now—one must not get close to POLITICS or RELIGION).  Hasn’t it been fascinating  to watch the  story of the bald eagles building their nest and caring for their young?   (The photography is amazing).    Did you hear George got a new Cadillac?  Are you going to watch the forthcoming wedding of Prince William and Katherine at 4 am?

Or  you could get personal with an attempt at humor describing the “cute”  funny comments of your visiting 2- and 4-year-old great grandchildren.   If you are desperate, you can  give a brief description of your grandson’s adventures in Chile or grand-daughter’s adventures as a helicopter nurse.  In fact, the real reward is if you can notice your audience of   five leaning forward to get the punchline  and then bursting forth  with a good laugh.  Ah, that is supreme.

But, alas, there are times when just nothing comes to mind that seems appropriate, so you just sit and eat.  That appears to be acceptable to others, so why can you not be content and stop that uneasy, restless feeling that there should be conversation and that it is up to you to provide it if there is none?

After all, SILENCE IS GOLDEN  !!!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Connie Nelson
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 01:39:14

    Wow, Mom, I’m impressed! Thanks, Jeff, for getting Grandma J. on the road to being published. Perhaps both of you will acquire stardom at the same time!


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