Some people are powerless in the face of alcohol. Other people are powerless over tobacco. I used to know some people who couldn’t face the day without smoking dope.

I hardly ever drink. Don’t smoke. But I’ve got a big mouth.

I’ve looked for an effective support group but haven’t found one.

My problem is that when someone asks me what I think, I tell them. I know. You’re absolutely right. I’m an idiot. God knows, I should have learned to keep my mouth shut.

It ends badly. There’s that awkward moment when the color slowly drains from his or her face. There could be tears. There might be rage. Quite often, he or she walks away.

Then, even worse, there are the times when I tell someone what I think before they’ve even asked. That’s when I have a really big mouth. That’s when I never hear from them again.

It has changed my life. I go the movies less often these days. It’s become increasingly difficult for me to sit there when the people behind me are telling each other what someone just said, or even worse, what they really meant by what they said. I’ve found myself trembling in the dark, desperately trying to keep the scream in. It wants out. I start to forget about the film. Then when one of them starts rooting around in the extra large popcorn, I completely lose it. I can’t help myself. It’s like a dam breaking. I turn around and the words rush out: “Do you really think I paid nine dollars to hear you talk and eat?”

I know. Believe me, I know it’s unforgivable. I used to work at Toad Hall, the little cinema at Music Inn. I sold popcorn. I know how important popcorn sales can be. I know the customer is always right. Especially when they’re not.

Lately, I am struggling not to scream when someone around me makes their car beep for no apparent reason. I’m sitting right there on the bench. Someone pulls in to the parking space, gets out of the car, walks three feet then presses their automatic key gizmo and the car horn beeps. I’m really trying hard. And I haven’t yet yelled at anyone. I haven’t grabbed their keys and thrown them across the street. But believe me, I want to.

The key is in your hand. It’s right there. You just got out of the car. Put the key in the little keyhole. Turn the key. Lock the door. It’s not that hard. It wasn’t that long ago when we all used to do it. There was a time when they didn’t even make those gizmos. Why in the world do I have to hear your car beep? I can understand if you’re disabled, but you’re healthy. How can we be the greatest nation in the world if we need a ridiculous little gizmo to lock our car doors? Do you think the Chinese need a gizmo to lock their car doors? Most of them don’t even have car doors!

It’s my fault, I’m sure, for not appreciating progress.

Another part of my problem is all the time I spend in a public place. All kinds of people love to come to Fuel. For coffee. For muffins. For Frankie T’s great Deli sandwiches and Papa Dogs., and to hear Jes Grover call out the order. To sip and serf the internet.

It’s my fault. Public places attract the public. For someone with a big mouth, it can be a never-ending challenge. For example, every early morning Bruce comes to the coffee shop. God bless him, but Bruce is like my dearly-departed Hungarian grandmother. Nanny complained non-stop: “Oi, my neck, my legs. It’s too hot in here. It’s too cold.” Complaining kept her alive to 94.

I was afraid I might give her a coronary, so I never told her how annoying it was to hear a never-ending stream of complaints. But Bruce never made me home made Hungarian donuts or cold cherry soup, so I’ve got less patience with him. I know I shouldn’t but I’ve started to say things aloud to Bruce. Things I used to think but didn’t say. Like, “Bruce, if you’re going to complain all the time, why don’t you go to Dunkin’ Donuts?” There is a realistic alterative, I know. Anthony doesn’t suffer from Big Mouth Syndrome and even asks Bruce polite questions.

Bruce owns The House That Is Always Being Built, and he insists on rebuilding it himself. So he has legitimate reasons for complaining about everything he is doing or not doing: the floors, the electric system, the plumbing, the landscaping or lack of landscaping, and the Firehouse which is almost as big as The House That Is Always Being Built and may some day hide it from view.

I know I am ill. The other day I yelled at Bruce: “Hire a contractor, for God’s sake!” I know that when I am truly better, I will buy Bruce a new blender for the Kitchen That Will Never Be Done and hand it to him with a deeply sincere and silent smile.

Thursday May 28, 2009 © Mickey Friedman – All Rights Reserved