The conversation was getting heated.
"Are you kidding me? A sunny Saturday afternoon and you're going to sit inside watching baseball? You're going to blow off everything else to watch the Royals choke again?"
"They could come back."
Braying laughter. "Come back? You're yanking me. They're swinging limp noodles out there. I mean, look at that dirt bike, all clean and waiting to get filthy again. Look at that stack of stories that need editing. You're an idiot."
"Yeah, well. You're ugly."
It nearly came to blows. As is often the case, this animated difference of opinion occurred in my driveway, a good place to pace between innings. It had always been safe out there because the house across the street is empty and there is no one to witness these awkward displays.
Until recently, that is. Arguing over the various things to be done on this fine spring afternoon, I had completely forgotten that a nice new couple had moved in over there. And when I looked up, the nice lady of the house was sitting on her sun porch and gazing out.
It wouldn't have been so bad, you know, if this bickering hadn't involved the usual suspects — that argumentative trio of me, myself and I.
I talk to myself all the time. Too much to be healthy, really. It's mostly an inner dialogue that explodes in the confines of my squishy brain and escapes through my mouth.
On the street in front of the Sun Journal: "That son of a skunk isn't going to call back. Without that information, I'm sunk. Sunk, I tells you!"
Sometimes my inner (and outer) voice is 1940s gangster. Sometimes it's schoolyard bully, sometimes its a Southern belle. An angel of a woman, really. Sings in the church choir.
I fear I've said too much.
And by the time I realize that I'm doing it again — out in the wide-open public and yammering on like a game show host — more often than not I look up just in time to see the wide-eyed old lady, yanking her dog back on its leash because she's wary of the crazy man on the sidewalk.
We're not crazy. We just have trouble keeping private dialogue private. Our thoughts are like Cheez Doodles that fly out of the overstuffed bag when you open it. We think it, we say it.
At the grocery store: "Wait, what am I here for?"
"Would it kill you to make a damn list?"
At the fax machine: "I hate fax machines."
"Me, too. Fax machines suck."
In the car: "That idiot is going to pull out in front of you. How much do you want to bet the fool is going to ... Oh, and there he goes!"
Deep in the woods of Turner: "Probably should have gone around that mud hole."
"No doo-doo, Sherlock. What was your first clue?"
For most people, thoughts fly around inside the head like bats that never leave the belfry. For others, like us, there are holes in the roof and the bats fly in and out whenever they please. Mostly it's just an embarrassing little quirk, something you in no way should report to the authorities (we're warning you).
Other times, it's just plain awkward.
Corey: "You just said something."
Me: "No, I didn't. You're drunk."
All the damn time, that happens. When it does, I remind myself to keep my private thoughts private. Five minutes later, we're outside, arguing about it in the driveway, and the new neighbors are adding extra locks to their doors.
I'd like to say that talking to oneself is perfectly normal and that I'm not ashamed. But if that were the case, would I take such pains to cover up the embarrassing habit?
Out on the street, a winsome woman raises her eyebrows after catching me in the act of an animated one-man debate. Thinking quickly, I press a hand to my ear. "What's that, Bill? I'm afraid reception is poor over this Bluetooth device which I am obviously using."
On my motorcycle (where I actually talk to myself nonstop for some reason), I like to give the impression that I'm filming my ride and simply narrating that film as I go. Yeah, see? That's all it is. Narrating.
In the grocery store ... well, there's really no good diversion there. Not when you're standing in the middle of the aisle, loaf of bread in one hand, six cans of tuna in the other, arguing with yourself over whether the Chicken of the Sea mascot fish is named Charlie or Chuckie.
Sometimes you're just flat-out busted. I have this other neighbor who's kind of a smoking ninja. He'll sit quietly on his porch in the middle of the night having a cigarette. Meanwhile, I go out to the driveway to engage in a lively discussion about whether I should go to bed or stay up and watch "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
He hears the whole thing, that ninja, and never says a word. He's one of those neighbors who will go before the media cameras after I do something stupid. "Odd fellow," he'll say. "Talked to himself in the voice of a Southern lady. Nice enough lass, though. Sang in the church choir."
So, I think we can all agree that this is an amusing little peccadillo, nothing more, nothing less. It's certainly no reason for you to back away slowly or to make twirling gestures around your temple every time I come near.
"Ain't that right, Mark, you handsome son of a gun?"
"Quite right, indeed. No reason at all to call the authorities."
We have spoken.
The Mark LaFlammes are Sun Journal staff writers. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.