I’ve been conducting a whole bunch of interviews lately for my other work, the one that doesn’t involve wiping someone else’s butt at periodic intervals. I actually enjoy the interviewing quite a lot, but transcribing them is torture. Because I have to listen to myself. And it turns out that I, dear reader, am the prototypical Shrill New York Jackass.
The people I’ve been interviewing invariably call somewhere in Middle America their home—usually they’re from “Georgia,” “Maryland,” or some place called “Ne-brass-ka.” Anyway, these foreign devils, they talk different from me. Real, real different-like. And on tape, they sound thoughtful and calm, while I’m clearly jacked up on Dexedrine. While I listen to these tapes, all I hear is this:
Interview subject: I’m answering your question in a deliberate manner, my words carefully measured.
Me: I’M JUMPING IN TO RESPOND JUST SO YOU KNOW I’M LISTENING WHOOPS WERE YOU STILL TALKING? APOLOGETIC LAUGHTER TEE HEEE HEEEEEEEE!
IS: I chuckle politely, then continue with my points, which were this, this, and the other thing.
ME: I ASK ANOTHER QUESTION WHILE GIGGLING TO SHOW THAT I THINK IT”S A STUPID QUESTION BUT I HAVE TO ASK IT! AND I TALKREALLYFAST! WHEEEE!
IS: How curious. Sigh. Well, your question made little sense, as it was obvious you didn’t listen to what I just said, but I will endeavor to answer it, since this will be good publicity for whatever it is I’m promoting.
ME: MORE QUESTIONS! MORE GIGGLING! I'M KIND OF SPITTY AND SIBILANT, DID YOU NOTICE?
IS: I’m too busy sounding mellow and homespun to pay any mind to your housewife-on-crack voice.
ME: NOW I WILL MAKE JOKES SO YOU KNOW I’M FUNNY! LOOK AT MEEEE! SNICKER!
IS: How quickly I tire of you. I will give you non-answers until you let me off the phone.
ME: AND I’M ALREADY THINKING OF LISTENING TO THIS TAPE AND ALL THE STUPID SHIT I SAID, TRA LA!
This is fun for me, as it feeds into my burgeoning insecurity that I don’t know how to talk to adults anymore. You try chittering all day to a toddler, and then conduct an interview about the benefits of Vitamin D without peppering everything you say with multiple exclamation points. Can’t be done! You will sound relentlessly perky! Your interviewee will sound nervous! Then you’ll have to mention the toddler, so she’ll know you’re not clinically insane! Here I go again with the exclamation points!
But why must I blame the child? Long before Henry was, I was flitting about, my every thought caroming toward its daffy conclusion. I’ve seen video of me. It's painful. I look a little like a hummingbird, but without the grace and, you know, hovering. Maybe I could blame all the caffeine, but how I love the caffeine, don't make me give it up, oh god.
Henry is becoming one of us New York fast-talkers, too, but in him it's completely adorable, of course. He's been talking for a while, but until recently he stuck to one or two words at a time. He'd carefully consider what word he would use--say, "Park"--and then he'd add a little upwards inflection at the end and repeat it until I felt that I would go mad. "Park?" "Park?" "Did you want to go the park, Henry?" "Park? Park? Par--" "Okay, let's get our shoes on!" "Park? Park?" "Yep, park." "Park? Park? Park park park?"
Now he's begun creating sentences by stringing together the words he doesn't know with babble. His every thought pours out of him, uncensored by judgment or reason. He stomps around the apartment, shouting, "Mommy balalalalalala FIRE TRUCK!" "Henry badoobadooobadooop BLENDER booneeeboooneee LUNCH roobooo DOGGIE!" Bless his little New York heart, he could conduct one of my interviews and no one would notice the difference.