Some people think I talk too much. Well, they've obviously never met my grandmother.
My grandmother is one of those amazing women who can talk for an hour and never once stop to draw her breath. On the phone, she will let me chime in every once in a while, but it is not always necessary.
While I enjoy speaking with her - and convince myself that I am at least doing something that makes her happy - it can get tedious. Today, I played two games of spider solitaire, three games of regular solitaire and two games of mahjong during our conversations.
You see, the normal stuff doesn't bother me. The "what are you having for dinner?" questions or "how is work going?" inquiries are fine. Some stories she tells are even intriguing, like the ones about my childhood friend who now has two children and a husband who works three jobs to support her but wants a divorce since she has spent thousands of kronor on getting her teeth chemically whitened.
I always like to keep up with the local gossip. However, we seem to always end up with a few topics I cannot stand. First, my grandmother insists on telling me about friends of hers whom I have never heard of and never met. I understand she likes to share parts of her life, which is fine, but she always talks about them like I should have known them for years and should remember them from my childhood when, in fact, I am sure these people didn't even live in town when I was young.
Then, of course, my grandmother now insists on discussing items like the American economy and the new president. She watches CNN. She knows what is going on. And who am I to correct her when she says that no Americans know that their country is in debt? She saw the interviews. She knows how it is.
After some arguing, she always falls back on this: "Well, what do people think over there? What are people saying?"
"About what?" I usually ask.
"Well, you know," she replies. "About that bank closing down (substitute Wall Street bailout, Obama's speech, George W. Bush leaving, America's influence in Europe...)."
"I'm not sure," I say. "It's sad, I guess." (or "good, I guess")
"Yes, but what are people saying at your job? What are your friends saying?"
"You must be talking about it?"
"No grandma," I say, now very irritably. "We don't talk about this kind of stuff. We just work and sleep and try not to worry about anything."
And then the topic eventually fades out. But I guess I should be happy and thankful that my grandmother still has her wits about her. Last week, for example, she was watching a movie about a terribly woman terrorizing a couple living in a downstairs apartment just so she could get ideas for what to do about her drunken neighbors.
The week before that, we got into a surprising discussion about birth control, which I will not recite here. It finally faded out after she had said "but where does it all go?" multiple times and I gave up trying to explain that the whole purpose of the pill is that you do not ovulate, so there is no "all" that needs to "go" any place.
As usual with our conversations, today's talk came to an end after a little over an hour - just to be resumed next week. With new topics in mind, I hope.