Style

Dwight Schrute, a character on “The Office,” stood in a comment line at a big meeting for hours. When he finally got to the microphone, his comment was how inefficient the line setup was and how it could be improved. He fixed on his current annoyance and abandoned the more significant issue he had planned to talk about. His anal, short-sighted style won.

I know a guy who no matter what anybody else tries to say, always ends up talking about himself at great length. You could say, to me, “I saw her the other day. She is so fine.”

Stan might reply, even though you weren’t talking to him, “She doesn’t actually look that good. I knew her when she really looked good. I discovered her. I met her in New York in the eighties. . . .” I slip away then, but he doesn’t notice. Stan knows more about everything than we do. If he’s unfamiliar with the current topic, which doesn’t happen much, he changes it. That’s his style—soliloquy.

It’s the same with misfortune. His fracture was way worse than yours and took longer to heal and hurt more the whole time than yours or any the doctors had ever seen. He may be in a book, it was so bad. You were so clumsy you broke a bone, and he’s a hero and modest because he’s not even taking credit for his wonderfulness. He just happens to be brilliant and brave.

Actually, I know another guy like that, where no matter what the group is talking about, pretty soon he’s modestly pontificating in great boring detail about some arcana he’s managed to work into what used to be a conversation and is now a monologue.

Each of these guys is like that. Nice guys. Decent, well-meaning men and crashing bores. That they know what they’re droning about—and they do—means nothing.

My personal style doesn’t allow for boredom. I don’t think I’ve ever talked more than three minutes at a time in front of anybody who would remember it. I don’t hesitate to open up to a baby—they’re such good listeners—and the three-minute guideline doesn’t hold if the person I’m talking to can’t talk.

There’s nothing I want to say to anybody who could repeat it that takes more than three minutes. Now and then I run over three minutes in my radio spots on KZFR but most people aren’t paying much attention anyway, and even if it’s awful, it’s short.

Posted Thursday, November 26th, 2009 under children, compassion, tolerance, Uncategorized.

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