This morning I acted like an enormous jackass

I admit it. I did. But sometimes, well, sometimes we just do.

The background: My uncle has a neighbor. He’s a nice enough guy. In his late 70s, used to be a relatively big deal trumpet player. He seems pretty lonely now. He’s married, with a kid, but I think when you’ve lived a life of performance after performance after performance, the stillness of retirement can be maddening. You want to matter. You want to exist. But, in your mind, you don’t.

This man’s greatest flaw is, to be blunt, he can’t be quiet. Literally, he lacks the ability not to talk. He talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks. I’ve seen every possible escape route utilized in his presence, and nothing ever works. He talks over you, through you, around you. On and on and on and on—a verbal vortex of hell. A black hole of banter.

Anyhow, my uncle’s friend seems to like that I write. When I visit my uncle, he emerges from thin air, almost like one of those creepy Twilight Zone episodes from back in the day. There is no escape. You are doomed.

A couple of weeks ago the phone rang in our house. I almost picked up, but the wife wisely said, “I wouldn’t—I don’t know the number.” We let the machine take it, and it was him. The message lasted, I’d say, six solid minutes. Blathering about this, wants to introduce me to that, etc. I thanked my wife profusely.

Today, I was home alone, packing up my stuff to hit the neighborhood Cosi. I have about three hours before I pick up the kids—three valuable hours. The phone rings. Florida area code—probably my parents. Possibly my mother-in-law (who I adore). I answer—it’s him. Fucking him.


I think fast. “I’m on the other line,” I say. “One second.”

I hang up the phone.

He calls back, and I don’t answer. Calls again—don’t answer. One more time.

I deserve every possible insult on this one—but I know y’all have done the same sort of thing at one time or another. It was a major dick move—lonely senior just wanting to talk. But he is my personal poison sumac. I hear his voice, I itch. I scratch. I claw.

I behave as a major dick.

I know … I know.

9 thoughts on “This morning I acted like an enormous jackass”

  1. I’m not saying this to make you feel worse, but I used to be in a fantasy baseball league with a guy that made me cringe when he called. Retired widower, lived alone, our drafts were the highlight of his year, it seemed. He always wanted to talk, kept right on going when he called. Minutes became hours. Hard to get him to hang up, even if he was just passing on his drops and adds.

    Then he was hit by a car. Killed instantly.

    Still kick myself that I hated those calls and sometimes did what you did…

  2. Can’t blame you for feeling the way you do, so don’t think you are a major dick. You are being true to your feels. Its sad that there are people like this. If only he walked around with a mirror to see what he is doing. Such is life.

  3. Eh, what were you supposed to do? Torture yourself and endure a never-ending conversation just to be nice? When a person can’t take a hint and they truly do drive you to the brink of insanity, there’s not much room for civility.

  4. Keith Ryan Cartwight

    I have trouble hearing, everybody knows I have trouble, so when I don’t feel like conversing I just keep on walking like I didn’t hear a thing. Then later, when they ask why I didn’t acknowledge them I point to my left ear and say, “Bad ear. I’m sorry.”

  5. I don’t think that you acted like a dick. This guy is retired, he has all the time in the world. You have a job and little kids and a wife, your time is precious.

    If he had something important to tell you, like your uncle’s house was burning down, that’s one thing. But if he wants to regale you with the time he jammed with Be-Bop Jones, wait until the summer.

    How’d he get your number, anyway?

  6. I wish I could do that to the person in my life who is incapable of shutting up. Unfortunately, that person is my 10-year-old daughter 😀

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