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The fine family art of conversation (or not)

People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cat’s Cradle

This past weekend, The Wife and I visited her father and stepmother in Germantown, Maryland. Also his sister was visiting from Maine. On one of the days, The Wife, her dad, her aunt and I sat around the dining room table and I was reminded once again how different her side of the family is from my side of the family. At one point in the “conversation,” we actually could hear this sound:

Play that over about 10 times and you’ll get the idea of what the lull in the “conversation” actually sounded like.

That would never happen with my side of the family. When my own father, mother, aunt, my wife and I sit at our parent’s kitchen table, we can’t hear ourselves speak, for all the cross-conversations happening, let alone the clock. Add into the mix my sister and her four-year-old son, and forget it, you can’t even hear yourself think. I don’t include my brother-in-law in the group because he comes from a family much like The Wife’s in that they also can be…let’s say…comfortable with the silences.

That is not the theme song for my side of our family, except when we’re taking a group nap, which usually happens on Sunday afternoons when we go over to my parents — right after that dinner where we can’t stop talking. You’d be tired too after all that. Yes, the family that sleeps together…oh, wait, no, that’s not what I mean…er, never mind…

So is yours the type of family that has to fill those silences or one that can be, and is, comfortable with the silences?

3 responses to “The fine family art of conversation (or not)

  1. Is that why people call them the “out-laws”?

  2. My family is the type that fill those silences but I think it’s just because we’re naturally loud and have so much to say to each other. The only time my home is quiet is if most of us are asleep or gone.

    • unfinishedrambler

      My mother’s side of the family is from the South and they too are just naturally loud. However, my father — who just by seeing him you wouldn’t think so — is quite garrulous when he gets going, much like myself.