Thursday, September 26, 2013

Impulse Control, Part 2

     Having written about sequels the other day reminded me that I needed to do a sequel to my original blog post on controlling impulses. The first blog dealt mainly with controlling physical impulses like eating and drinking.  I don't have much of a problem with that.  I have a much more difficult time controlling what you might call mental impulses, or the need to spout off on whatever is in my head at the moment.
     A co-worker said to me this week that she was concerned about getting older because her joints would ache whenever it rained.  I could have offered some platitude about how she was actually very young and need not worry overmuch. Instead, I piped up and said, "The good news is it'll only get worse from here on out."
     It was meant as a joke and was taken as a joke, but it was also the very first thing that popped into my mind and, therefore, the first thing that came out of my mouth.
    There's an old saying about having your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion, but, frankly, that's not been very helpful to me.  My brain is constantly in gear. It's usually gearing up to say something snarky. Many times I can stop the comment from reaching my lips, but many times I simply cannot. It's gotten to the point with my wife that I don't actually have to say anything.  She looks at me, sees that I'm about to say something, and tells me to shut up.
     Others, who don't have my wife's experience with me, very often don't know how to react. So let me assure all of you that if you think I'm making a joke, you are correct. It may be a lame joke, but it's still intended as a joke, not a thoughtful, insightful comment on whatever it is we were talking about.
     For example, one Christmas my sister was struggling to come up with a word to describe my niece's newest boyfriend. She said, "I'm not sure if I should call him a friend, or a boyfriend, or a fiance, or what."
     I said, "How about future ex?"
     My niece didn't find the remarkin nearly as humorous as I did, but she also doesn't have to deal with the clutter created by all of the things I DON"T say.  Thousands of potential responses flash through my mind for every one that gets by the filters.
     And I do have filters. After all, it wasn't me, it was my wife who once said to a friend, "I'm sorry. I don't speak mumble."
     So when you combine my tendency to pipe up with an inappropriate comment and my wife's inability to NOT say what's on her mind, you can see that our children are destined to unintentionally tick people off for many years to come.
     We were enjoying a picnic lunch the other day in a public park when some cyclists came through. My eight-year-old daughter looked at them and loudly proclaimed, "Bicycles? Really? We're trying to eat here."
    Mom and I gently scolded her while laughing quietly to ourselves.