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A friend was laughing about how much she talked when she was growing up. She said her mom used to urge (tell) her to go outside and play. She knows that she still talks a lot and will sometimes stop in the middle of what seems like an endless story and say, “I guess it’s too late to say, ‘Let me make this story short.’” I say nothing in response. We both just laugh.

When my sister and I were growing up and we were talking and talking to our mom, she would plead, “Can you just be quiet for a minute? I can’t hear myself think.” Of course, this shut us up for about a minute while we pondered how one heard oneself think.

As an adult, I’ve often wondered what the hookup is between the tongue, vocal cords and the brain that compels some people to talk and talk and talk and talk.

During concerts at Ravinia Park, staff members walk around with signs to encourage people to be quiet so that others can enjoy the concert. Do you think people shut up? Ha! Some folks act as though they can’t read. While seated at a Pritzker Pavillion concert in Millennium Park, a man in front of me turned around several times to ask the people behind him to be quiet. At first he asked them politely, but since this didn’t work, he then demanded that they shut up. They were so insulted by his demand that they left. I thanked the man. But why in the name of common sense and consideration of others would one attend a concert and talk and talk and talk (a rhetorical question)?

Last week at the Soul Train Anniversary concert, two men stood behind me talking and talking and talking. When (Commissioner) Jerry Butler was about to sing “For Your Precious Love,” I turned to them and asked them courteously if they would not talk during his song. Man #1 told Man #2, “Okay, let’s not talk since she hasn’t said anything all this while.” Man #2 shook his head in agreement as I smiled at them. But as soon as the song began, Man #2’s mouth flapped again. I turned around and glared at him, then turned around. Each time I turned and glared at him, he shut up. I finally decided he was too ugly and too rude and too ignorant for me to waste my time trying to get him to be quiet.

So what’s going on? Don’t these non-stop talkers see each other at any other time besides at concerts? And for goodness sake, why do they choose to stand or sit near people who are trying to hear the concert?

Need I say that in our age of cellphones, one is constantly assaulted by non-stop yakkety-yakking just about everywhere? Even some airlines have made (or are considering making) it possible for passengers to be in technological communication with folks while in the air. Groan! A student visiting from Japan was surprised to see people using cellphones on public transportation, because this wasn’t allowed in Japan.

Oh, to have that peace and quiet.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...