Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mr. Chatterbox was one of those people who simply couldn't stop talking

A few caveats before we begin our tale. The first is that I generally don't like to bitch about people behind their back. However, I'm pretty sure that a fairly anonymous blog counts as only a fraction as talking behind someone's back. Plus, I need to rant in order to keep my relationship with this individual running smoothly. Furthermore, he does have a number of very good traits- but I doubt you're interested in them! However, I do realize what I am about to rant about may seem someone hypocritical, coming from someone self-disclosing over the internet. I am accepting this hypocricy and rolling with it!

This, alas, is not a story of Mr. Chatterbox.
It is rather a story of his second cousin, who was not quite fascinating enough to children to warrant his own Mr. Men book.
His name is Mr. Self-Disclosure.

Our good friend, The Duke, observed upon meeting Mr. Self-Disclosure for the first time that this fellow had a remarkable talent for taking any topic of conversation and someone making it about himself. It is truly stunning. You like a certain band? Well, that band is from Philadelphia, where his cousin once lived. And this cousin works as a vacuum salesman. And he recently purchased a vacuum from this cousin. He thought it was a good deal, but his wife doesn't like the vacuum, so they are thinking of returning it. But, then again, his wife and his cousin have a really tumultuous relationship, so it might not be about the vaccuum after all.... and so on and so on. And everyone in the conversation smiles and nods and glazes over. If someone else tries to, say, talk about their own vacuum, he is quick to seize back the conversation and tell them of how much cooler the vacuums were back when he knew how to party in the 70s. In fact, he probably made a bong out of a vacuum with some obscure band at that time that we are fools for not knowing about now (though, I do admit, a vacuum bong is a freakin' sweet idea!).

What is probably more frustrating that his need to outline every topics pertaining to him in insane detail is his tendency for innappropriate self-disclosure (as he is so named). Within a few days of meeting him, several of my colleagues had deemed him "self-disclosure". At first I thought they were being unfairly judgmental of a guy who was just looking to fit in. However, on several occasions, when we were taking job candidates out to lunch, he somehow managed to take a question about his place in the program as license to talk, very candidly, about the difficulties his family had been having over the past year and how it had negatively affected him and his work. The first time I kind of shook it off. By the time the third job candidate rolled around, I started believing his nickname may in fact be appropriate.

What has me near to snapping point is the fact that I am currently taking a course on interpersonal relationships with this fellow. Now, most of us can figure out that the material in this course is pretty easy to relate to our personal lives. With nearly every major topic, I can think about at least one relevant relationship or experience that would illustrate it rather well. But, do I chronicle how my ex-boyfriend's attachment style didn't match mine, rife with examples? No- it's not appropriate and it's not relevant to most of the people in the class, who have enough interpersonal experience to generate their own examples! But Mr. Self-Disclosure is not bound by such petty conventions! So we are witness to details of his tumultuous upbringing, his marriage, his daughter's development, and his current relationships with family members, tied in with a smattering of irrelevant details about his older brother's reading habits and his favourite films from the 60s (with a full cast line-up!). I know all this after two classes. And he interrupts the instructor to tell these tales!

I am about to flip-- and I am usually a calm and understanding person. I have taken to juvenile tactics such as writing notes to my classroom confidant beside me expressing my frustration-- like I did in bloody Grade 9!!! Then again, I guess juvenility breeds juvenility.

As a side note... how much ass does Mr. Messy kick??


Ant said...

These folk are hilarious. Their complete self-absorption usually makes them impervious to subtle tactics like quietly mentioning that maybe we don't all want to hear about your messy divorce and bedroom problems...

The only reaction - and I want you to practice this in the office - is to put your hands over your ears and say very loudly: "Shut up! Won't you please, please, for the love of all that is holy, just shut up!"

He still won't understand why you're reacting like this.

But he is very likely to shut up.

LMizzle said...

I love it! I had a few of these people in my faculty. They really just became more of a specatcle and no one took them seriously. At least it made for interesting memories.
I don't have much advice to share as I was friends with at least one of these self-disclosing people. My friendship with him allowed me to punch him in the arm when he was acting like an idiot.
Sounds like your guy is just going to keep on talking about himself until someone tells him to shut the hell up!

Princess Pointful said...

It's kind of sad how many people like this end up in the field of psychology.
It's kind of like they were just looking for a way in which to scientifically study themselves!

Ant- I was thinking of plugging my ears and screaming "LA LA LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!". I actually think that's too subtle, so your tactic is probably better.

Lmizzle- Maybe I should use these principles of operant conditioning on him.
Hopefully, if punching = bad, and I make self-disclosure = punching, then, by virtue of my profound mathematics, self-disclosure = bad!

The big problem is, in less than a week, I have an entire day of car and plane rides with the fellow. My iPod shall be my saviour.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Answer: He kicks the most ass.

This man sounds like a perfect bore. Reminds of the time when I was goin through a really bad patch and to cope with it all I just had to......

Princess Pointful said...

*Ding ding ding*
The most ass is correct, Ultra Toast!

At least you relied on similar tactics only when you were going through a rough patch. I've been there- self-disclosed in an excessive fashion when I've had a particularly hard time. But I am convinced it is a personality trait for him, as it hasn't changed in the two and a half years I've knows him.