The Older I Get

Jeff Andresen Website Pic (Staff)

Lately I have noticed a pattern. The older I get, the more I tend to say things twice. I don’t really know when it happened. I think it was a somewhat organic process, which occurred over time. Or maybe I just came to the subconscious conclusion that saying something once was inadequate. Saying things twice adds a level of emphasis that seems to put my mind at ease. I have no idea where it puts the person’s mind that has to listen to me, but that is not a mystery I plan to spend any time investigating.

For a while I tried saying things three times. While I appreciate the attention I received from “triple talk”, I eventually came to realize that it was a bit overkill. In my opinion, very few people can say things three times with any real success. The only ones I can think of are melting witches in striped socks and six-year-olds waiting in line for a snow cone.

Realizing that you say things twice is one thing. Having a lack of control over when you say things twice is another matter altogether. I have no issue with repeating “ranch dressing on the side.” However, I would like to consider my options when it comes to how many times I announce my intention to use the restroom.

It occurred to me that there could be physical triggers that automatically cause me to say things twice. I decided that I should identify these triggers and record my reactions in a journal.

According to my journal:

  • Speaking into any type of metal box with a menu board attached to it automatically causes me to say things twice
  • Small children waving popsicles around in my wife’s car makes me say things twice
  • Trying to share the highlights of my summer vacation with my dentist while he has that sucker thing in my mouth makes me say things twice, and
  • Telling “Ken” in Malaysia that I cannot seem to get my computer to work makes me say things twice.

As I thought about my journal entries, I had to admit that there was a definite pattern, and it appeared that there were also some obvious triggers. I am not at all comfortable being the victim of unintentional “double talk” (saying things twice when I really don’t want to), and I felt convicted to find a strategy that would help me control this urge while allowing me to selectively utilize the power of the “echo statement” when needed.

Taking the bull by the horns, I predicted that I could reduce my double talk by simply mastering my delivery of the singular thought. Ideally, this strategy would help me avoid the temptation of getting caught up in an overwhelming conversation, losing control and ultimately blurting out things twice.

So, I decided to go to a restaurant and purposely pull the trigger. I found my seat, settled in and waited for the inevitable. As soon as the waiter introduced herself along with the nice young lady who was shadowing her (whose “first day at work face” looked a lot like mine that time I got sick on the Ferris Wheel at Six Flags), I mustered up my singular thought and yelled, “I don’t like onions!” Then I clamped my mouth shut tighter than Dick’s hatband. I patiently held my tongue through the drink delivery and forgotten nacho phase in anticipation of my onion-free burger. The urge to repeat “I don’t like onions” was stronger than I thought it would be. The words banged against the back of my teeth like a rodeo bull in a bucking shoot, and I found myself sweating and sitting on the edge of my seat. I pictured in my mind the waitress and her Ferris-Wheel-riding sidekick saying to me, “Oh, thank you so much sir, for saying that twice! Without that second reminder, there is no way on God’s green earth that we would have remembered that you don’t like onions. Why can’t more customers be as considerate as you?” I fought back the urge to blurt and told myself everything would be okay. Finally, the meal arrived. With complete trust in my “lead with a single thought” approach, I bit confidently into my burger.

When I really think about it, maybe double talk and even the occasional overkill triple talk isn’t such a bad thing after all. It’s better than onion breath. You know what I mean? You know what I mean? You know what I mean?