To say that Maurice* likes to talk is an understatement. This short, round septuagenarian is an avalanche of words, shoulder grips and backslapping mirth that demands complete attention. For a time I observed him from a distance, reluctant to immerse myself in his typhoon of anecdotes, chirpy laugher and small, circular eyes – I felt overwhelmed just watching him. But there was something that I liked about this little man – something in his manic, quick quick, two-step dance that flung energy at you like some dynamo on overdrive. It was the genuineness and innocence with which he practiced his art that attracted me; with which he delivered his spontaneous outpourings like gifts that wanted to bless you.
One Sunday, from across the Fellowship Hall, I saw him emerge from the sanctuary and decided to take a chance. I wanted to know more about him and what impelled his extroverted stream of consciousness; so I introduced myself. His handshake soon evolved into several shoulder grips; an offer of a xeroxed article on Don Cherry that he withdrew from his shirt pocket; a spontaneous recital of two Bible verses; a brief history of his interrupted training as a tail gunner during the war; an anecdote of how he met his wife – while pointing her out; a short delivery in French, and finally an offer of another article which he kept in the other pocket – all without my having said much.
His proximity within my personal envelope allowed me to smell his breath; but he meant well, this whirling dervish of thoughts and actions. He had maximized a good thing, and it had become a weakness. Like most of us, I reasoned, he probably wants to give in ways that are meaningful to him rather than in ways that are meaningful to another. He is like a lover who gives his woman flowers because he believes they are beautiful, when in fact what she really wants is a break from the kids.
I looked at my watch, extended my hand and said I had to leave, which triggered a sally of well-wishing whose content I cannot remember. As I walked toward the exit I felt endearment for a man who does not mean any harm, despite feeling singed by him. I drove home wondering about his wife – about whether she was an introvert like me, and how she had adapted to a man who proffered gifts – sometimes unwanted.
*Maurice is a pseudonym.