Point of View: Hold On

I am to turn 79 on Monday, by which time I expect to be lying on a beach in Zihuatanejo reading a good book, or, given my tendency to interrupt, making Mary look up from hers. 

That, my tendency to interrupt, may be the sole sticking point in our otherwise blissful coupling. Why I do it, I don’t know, though it may have something to do with being an only child for most of my youth, untempered by siblings shouting, “Will you shut up, Jackie, will you just shut up for once?” And so, uninterrupted, I continued interrupting.

In catechism — this was at the East End Lutheran school in Pittsburgh — I was constantly waving my hand when it was sixth-grade Bible passage recitation time. I was a fountain of dogma. Never mind that I hadn’t thought much about what I was saying.

And spelling. I was a whiz at it, and was dismissive when told the ability to spell was not a measure of intelligence. Of course it was. My mother helped me prepare for the Western Pennsylvania Spelling Bee, put on, as I recall, by The Pittsburgh Press. She sat on the same chaise longue that is in our bedroom today, I at the foot of it, and drilled me. I had no idea what most of the words meant, but it made no difference, I could spell them.

And, in the Western Pennsylvania Spelling Bee itself, I spelt with such aplomb that the reporter said the next day that if there had been a prize for the most lackadaisical contestant, I, who stumbled on “insidious,” spelling it with a “c,” and thus finished fifth, would have won it. . . . Lackadaisical. A five-syllable word. I didn’t know what it meant, but I liked it. 

From Bible passages and spelling bees I moved on in high school to Shakespearean soliloquies, a natural progression for one still more in love with sound than with sense. And, of course, soliloquies were essentially great interruptions, if you will, no matter that you had but a vague idea of what you were saying.  

I still, some 65 or so years on, have no more than a vague idea of what I’m saying. That’s called inspiration, isn’t it? And because of an arthritic shoulder, I no longer wave my hand much. But still there is this urge to interrupt, to blurt out, “Hold on, can I tell you one thing?”

The itch to propound passes I’ve found if you just hold on and sit tight (not all that hard to do when you have a margarita at hand), which I intend to do in Zihuatanejo.