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Point of View: Well, Shut My Mouth!

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 09:29

So I haven’t been interrupting all these years after all, I’ve been “cooperatively overlapping,” according to a recent New York Times guest essayist.

“Well, shut my mouth!” I said to Mary. “At last, vindication. When I interrupt, as you say, it isn’t because I want to stifle discussion, it’s because, contrariwise, I want to extend it. I am cooperatively overlapping, or cooperatively overlipping, if you will.”

Actually, since I’ve had my hearing aids repaired — at great cost, by the way, though if they want to drop hearing aid coverage from the Medicare add-ons that’s okay with me as long as the reconciliation bill passes — I’ve been able to hear better than I ever have, so well, in fact, that she often wonders, should I not respond right away, whether I can hear her. Which brings me to another point: In all those years when I couldn’t hear with the acuity that I have now, how could I be seriously charged with interrupting? To do so, don’t you need an auricular springboard, as it were — you know, in order to dive in?

No, no, despite my protesting, I know that often in life I have derailed people’s trains of thought. I have wrecked havoc in that respect, as Mary would say. There have been times, I realize, when my tendency to cooperatively overlap should have been kept under wraps.

Still, I’d have to hand in my chattering class card were I to utterly reform. A vow of silence in my case would speak volumes, I imagine. I fancy it might even get so that people would be begging me to please, please interrupt.

Well, maybe not, maybe they’d stop short of that. Maybe they’d only ask that I cooperatively overlap. And, mindful of the golden mean as it relates to rapt attentiveness and rudely interrupting, I guess I could live with that.


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