Sunday, May 14, 2006

You'll Know Us When You Hear Us

A very long time ago PBS ran a series called an American Family that was, ostensibly, real reality TV. They filmed a “normal” American Family over a period of months. Granted, these were pretty volatile months for this particular family (the couple decided to divorce and all kinds of controversies were going on with the kids that I now forget), making it a little suspect in the realm of reality. But the point of my bringing it up was that their name was the Loud family.

Saturday Night Live, then just a fledgling experimental show, did a satire on it called The Loud Family, featuring an entire family who could not speak quietly.

That, I fear, is the Linguini Family also. You always know when we’re around.

First there is the fact that we are a very verbal people. We can turn a simple, one-sentence explanation into a saga worthy of Will Durant. We want to tell you background. We want to reveal nuances. There are side stories we are sure you have to know about. We feel obligated to impart insights just in case you didn’t pick up on them yourself.

When the Heirs were growing up they always dazzled their pediatrician with their verbal skills. Sometimes a little too skillful. During the course of one examination, Heir 1 was chatting away about how he was homeschooled and felt obligated to tell the doctor that lately he’d been starting his school work by himself because his mother returned to bed to sleep another hour or so. For a week I kept looking for the Social Services car to pull into the driveway. (Two weeks later my own physical revealed my thyroid had stopped working, one symptom of which is total exhaustion.)

To be honest, Heir 1 has lifted verbal skills to an art form. No one can talk his way out of hot water like he can. And his convoluted and complex justification for abhorrent behavior is nothing short of magnificent. I never know whether to punish him or stand up and applaud. Now if we can only convince him to use his powers for the forces of good…

(By way of disclaimer, Heir 1 has never done anything drastic, only what could be termed “hijinks,” or maybe even “high-spiritedness.” Certainly nothing felonious. At least I hope not.)

Then there is the volume issue. Dirtman has a very resonant voice. Even speaking quietly, his voice carries. I keep explaining this to him, though he still feels obligated to shout everything. So the noise level gets ramped up just so you can get a word in edgewise. This sounds to others as though we are fighting when, in actuality, we’re probably just discussing the weather.

Coming from an Italian family, it’s not like any of this is new to me. Stories of shopping with my grandmother and two aunts, who always traveled as a triumvirate, are the stuff of which legends are made. It just wasn’t a successful trip if they hadn’t offended at least two clerks and reduced someone (usually me) to tears. Ah, the fond memories of my Aunt Madeline waving a bra in the air and screaming across the store, “SISIGGY, I FOUND YOU A

So it was nothing to me when, back in our family-building days, Dirtman yelled down the aisle of Rite Aid, “DID YOU FIND THE PREGNANCY TEST YOU LIKE?” Lately while we’re checking out he always asks for the benefit of the clerk and everyone in line, “Tampons. Did you need tampons? Just making sure.” Then to everyone, “She always forgets and then has to run out last minute to buy some.”

Thank you for sharing.

So now you know who those annoying, tacky people are making all the noise in the front of the restaurant, holding up the line at the grocery store and descending like a flock of geese at historic sites.

Just a word of advice: Don’t tell us to shut up. It will only precipitate a lengthy explanation and profuse apology during which “someone” is bound to reveal my underwear size.

Disclaimer: Let it be known that Sisiggy is not, unto herself, particularly loud. It is only matter of self preservation that she raises her voice. Though some may speculate that she may be heard more if she speaks quietly so "others" will lower their voices in order to hear her, 20 years' experience has taught her that such a theory requires a "someone" more sensitive than the someones who surround her. She is required to raise her voice and has been tempted, on occasion, to kick "someone" in the knees in order to gain "someone's" attention.


Jagosaurus said...

Heh. As I am an only child, my family is rather quiet. That isn't the only reason of course but it is no doubt a contributing factor.

Hick said...

I think part of your family may have been sitting at the table behind us yesterday when we went out to lunch. I felt like I could just turn my chair around and join in since we heard every word they were speaking and could not hear a word of what our own family was saying. Heh!

Funny post.

Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Hm... I think it is a blessing that you have your Italian blood in you and not swedish!!!!! You wouldn't stand a chance then, especially if you were from the northern Sweden. They are famous for not saying more than a word, bearly a word sometimes. They just make a breath sound :-)

Leslie Shelor said...

It's only Jag's branch of our family that is quiet. Mainly because they can hear each other. I went to a family funeral at the funeral home not long ago and figured out which room to go to from the volume. Shelors are not loud as a rule, but they are often deaf!

Jagosaurus said...

Heh. That's true, Leslie. I'll probably lose most of my hearing soon enough. It's already damaged a bit from a cross-country flight.

lene said...

Thank you for a hilarious post!

MacroMoments said...

My father-in-law is Italian and my m-i-l German. I understand noise. :-)

Loved this post. Found your blog and have fallen for your quick wit. Can't wait to read more!