Getting the Last Word in First

As Wendy wraps up a busy semester’s end, Jack writes the weekend guest blog.

“Let’s Talk” is our monthly discussion group (first Thursday each month) and any participant can nominate a subject to discuss, which must be just one or two words. Our good friend Tony, the local Presbyterian Minister, came up with the idea of the event  and is our fair and impartial moderator. We generally have between eight and twelve regular attendees and the only rule is that everyone’s views must be given respect. Subjects have ranged from ‘citizenship’ to ‘karma’ and even included–thanks to shop-sitter Andrew–“nose picking” (which led to a surprisingly insightful discussion on social taboos).

It’s fascinating to watch how the regulars position themselves at this. Um, that’s not a reference to nose picking.

Those who have read Wendy’s book may be surprised to learn that, while I delight in discussion and am likely to be found at the center of the debate, jousting merrily with my rhetorical lance, Wendy sits, small and quiet, crocheting in an armchair, just taking it all in. She says she isn’t much of a debater. Hmmm….

We’re not the only ones who stick to a pattern. Among our regulars are two village elders; let’s call them George and Gina. George is the archetypal curmudgeon. He has perfected opening his mouth exactly 20 minutes before the group’s 8:30 pm finish, lobbing his always-controversial views with maximum incendiary effect.  By contrast, Gina is our classic local grand-dame: quiet but determined, she is also known for waiting until late-on to offer her sensible, well-reasoned input.

Watching the interplay between these great characters is always an evening highlight. How does one get in the last word without getting left out entirely? Perhaps this explains why lately they have been vying with each other to get their thoughts in first–they want to be behind everyone else, yet ahead of each other.

The results are … hysterical. Gina clears her throat, and George starts talking. Gina waits, looking smug, as George, realizing he’s been tricked into starting early, winds to a disgruntled halt–and Gina gets in the last word. Next month, George will clear his throat, Gina waits, thinking she knows this trick. But then George not only says his piece, but filibusters, and just as he ends, the clock strikes time. Tony, a popular preacher in town because he knows the value of clock-watching, gets as much a kick out of the proceedings as we do, but he doesn’t let things drag on.

When people ask me what I like best about the bookstore I usually answer “the customers”. George and Gina, bless them (not their hearts, them!) are two reasons why.

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1 Comment

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized

One response to “Getting the Last Word in First

  1. Tony

    Amen sister! This has been an interesting and amusing development. The Curmudgeon and The Dame: A last word in search of a conversation. And yes, I will vouch, our dear Wendy is most often an observant listener. And, as you can tell, she listens well and this week her observant and keen listening has earned her the last word!

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