Being raised in a gregarious Italian family it came natural to talk with hands flapping through the air while sharing words or ironing out family kinks verbally. My parents and sisters yelled at one another when casually speaking. Firm. Loud. Totally normal to me.
No one was REALLY mad from what I could tell. At least most of the time.
Voluminous voices were part of everyday conversation. Hot topics like “Who ate the last Oreo?”, and “Do you know where my dolphin shorts are?” were shouted in what sounded like anger, but they were only an inquiring question. I assumed all families related this way.
I was shocked when I ate dinner at a grade school friend’s, whose house sat library quiet. It was an awkward sort of foreign peace that made me wonder if I had done something wrong. Even as we ate, this family was quiet, reserved and tame. I felt like I was dining and in a time-out simultaneously. Very , very different than dinners at my house.
My family still hangs out regularly. I would like to think we have piped down over the years , unless playing Balderdash or some other interactive board game. Then the only clatter is each of us barking at one another for the stage floor. Or trying to talk over one another. Louder. Swinging hands dramatically for emphasis and knocking over a wine glass. This is how it goes.
For example, when playing Balderdash a word like CLINCHPOOP comes along and all you can hear is the howling laughter over possible word definitions. If you have never played Balderdash ,enjoy words and love to laugh, this is a game you must buy…… In case you did not know, a clinchpoop is another name for a slob. When visiting with my family, the room comes alive like a three ring circus; it is laughter loud, entertaining and spiked with energy without all the elephant droppings.
After fifteen years of marriage, my husband’s still surprised how my family verbally relates to one another. Ralph told me that when we talk, adding on the words “What the Hell?” or “Dammit”, after most sentences would sound appropriate. This is based on our gruff tone and direct choce of words……Example:
“I did not call you a clinchpoop! (Dammit!)”
” I was trying to help, Mr. Grumpy pants. (What the hell!)”
I think Ralph might be right. We sound more intense than we intend, but we are hardwired this way. Oddly enough we understand one another ninety percent of the time, with no offensive taken. Concerning my sons, I want to lower my voice and deliver words in a gentle non-Italian-like manner but this does not come natural.
“(But what the hell) I will keep on trying (Dammit).”