It doesn’t help that I crave conversational completeness; I can’t abandon a topic until it’s been fully developed, until all has been said (largely by me), a thorough working through of my theory. (Look at these blog posts!) I need to reach a satisfying conclusion, for some reason, and I feel a sensation of frustration, a frantic anxiety, if the conversation ends before that point. Which it always does.
Often, half way through a diatribe, having pursued every digression and bored my poor companion almost to death, I’ll lose my place, forget why I was saying all this. Then I’ll feel a sensation akin to desolation, as if my whole identity had gone slack, lost coherence, as if I exist, properly, only in the activity of the telling, as if, at rest, I’d disappear.
Realising what I’ve done, then, I’ll try to return to my companion’s subject, give them the chance to voice their ideas. But the moment has passed; they couldn’t be bothered to talk about it anymore: the laboured extension of the topic is incongruous. If I know then quite well, I’ll switch abruptly to firing clumsy questions at them. This doesn’t work either. I’m still setting the agenda. I’m so anxious to involve them that I’m not engaging with their answers properly. I’m badgering them. It’s become an interrogation.
Anyway, asking people direct questions makes me feel shy and embarrassed. It doesn’t seem my place to pry: perhaps I’ll be intrusive and offend them. I want people to like me. I’m venturing out of a safe harbour into a tempest-torn open ocean.
So, you see, I hop from one topic to another, trying to complete them all, pecking at them, like a foolish blackbird on a lawn. I bore people.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to attribute all this to a medically sanctioned condition, rather than to moral weakness?