Take for example, my youthful habit of talking to myself. Alone, I often spun yarns of great fantasy and detail. In the bathroom, I could be heard telling stories of skiing adventures, reciting Shakespearean passages, Lily Tomlin monologues, or just plain talking to the spirits I imagined to be lingering in the air over the bathtub, heartily appreciating story after story. Maybe it was my own form of self-validation. Luckily, my parents did not send me to an institution, although more often than not, they would inquire, “Who the heck are you talking to?”
I was sent to the school psychologist, whereupon I commenced drawing pictures of trees whose limbs intertwined. The psychologist seemed pleased, so I never returned.
I did however, feel unfairly branded as the family weirdo for this habit which I finally curtailed upon entering college. Since then, I’ve restrained myself to making sparse comments out loud when I’m working alone, harsh, profane expletives while driving, and of course, talking to our cats, often putting words into their mouths so we can have a proper conversation. I’ve been developing and honing my “cat voice” since college, when it was first demonstrated by a talented roommate. Cats seem to feel more comfortable when you raise the pitch of your voice to meet theirs, she explained. It was one of the high-points of my college life.
The greatest validation of my life occurred recently while reading a book by one of my favorite authors of all time, Tom Robbins. (My life had been irrevocably changed for the better back in 1976, when I read Even Cowgirls Get The Blues during my first cross-country trip.) Reading Tibetan Peace Pie, A True Account of an Imaginative Life not long ago, I came across this passage:
“Consider, for example, my ‘talking stick.’
“Although this activity began sporadically a year or two earlier, and continued in an abbreviated, more surreptitious fashion for a year or two after, its golden age was my time in Warsaw, roughly between the ages of eleven and sixteen. It involved me making up stories and telling them to myself while I beat the ground with a long stick.”
Can you imagine my delight upon discovering this? Oh, the validation! The authentication! The substantiation!
Not only has one of the heroes of my life divulged a childhood passion for talking to himself, but his style has out-classed mine in every possible way.
Further down, he continues,
“…from the back porch my parents had a clear view of their only son talking to himself for hours on end while attacking the earth with a rough length of sapling.” And, “I was hell on lawns.”
Take heart, those of you who feel stigmatized by such a habit. And certainly, buy this book and read it. In fact, if you’ve lived this long and not read any Tom Robbins, put it on your bucket list and get moving!
My brief interlude with Tom Robbins:
My one exchange with my literary hero occurred at a book signing for Villa Incognito at a book signing in 2003, in Santa Rosa, CA. I was so excited about it that I left my friends’ house wearing the recent gift of a Homeland Security, Fighting Terrorism since 1492 t-shirt, with nothing underneath.
When the reading was over, we all lined up with our books and he began signing. When it was my turn, I shyly croaked something to the effect of, “thanks for making my life so much better.” He glanced up and saw my t-shirt. “Nice shirt,” he remarked.
“I’d give it to you, right off my back, but I’m not wearing anything underneath.”
“I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” he replied.
 Tibetan Peach Pie, Tom Robbins, ©HarperCollins 2014, Chapter 11, Sticks of Wonder, pp. 71-74.