I know you probably haven’t met me in person, but if you had, I could probably ask you that question in the title and you’d probably have an answer for me. The reason for this? I’m pretty damn sure I have an inner ear problem because I apparently can’t not talk loudly.
According to various sources– some near and some far away– I am always the loudest person in the room. I’m 2-3 decibels above any and everyone. The crying baby in the corner? What baby? I hear no baby, just this loud woman. The tantrum-throwing toddler? The music-blasting teenager? The freight train? Nope. Nothing. All I can hear is this loud lady.
I am that loud lady. You know how when you’re in a loud room and you’re speaking at max volume so that your friend can hear you and then the stars align and all noise stops at once and you’re left screaming mid-sentence something like, “So yeah, my vagina hairs now look like…. Oh hell.”
That situation happens to be me on a regular basis. Except, of course, that there’s no loud room full of people and all noise doesn’t stop at once. The revelation that I’m talking way too loudly tends to hit me when a friend jerks his head back as if he’s just been smacked in the face and asks me “Why are you talking so loud?!” As he is saying this, I am usually ignorantly mid-sentence. Suddenly my ears come into focus and I realize that I have, in fact, been talking like he was across the room. I’m blaming this all on an inner ear problem.
A few years ago a friend of mine, knowing my love of books (and old ones especially) found and gifted me an etiquette book from the 1950s. Because I wanted to be a lady I thought, here is an answer. I will study this book and walk about this earth with such an air of grace and sophistication that people will say:
“I admire her quiet dignity.”
“She is so gentle, yet somehow powerful…”
“Boy, she sure has grace and sophistication.”
One particular chapter about a woman’s demeanor and comportment stated that a lady should never speak above a whisper. Her voice should never be raised, just audible enough to be comfortably heard. Well damn, I pretty much raise my voice with the introduction of any emotion. Excitement; I get loud. Surprise; loud. Tears or laughter; loud.
But I was determined to be a new kind of woman. To scrub the old Eliza Doolittle off. It actually lasted a few days. The whole world seemed more calm because I was a restful sea and conversations were boats gently rocking on my surface. I was a lullaby and words the substance of that lullaby. I was a warm slice of toast and sounds were the room-temperature butter spread over my body. (Okay, that last one sounds creeper-y). Frankly, I was so calm I practically put myself to sleep. But overall, it was a lovely and worthwhile experience.
Maybe one day I’ll try that again. Bravo to the gentle, quiet ladies and gentlemen for your sophistication and grace. The world is loud enough. We need you guys.
Me? I wanna be a lady.