Thursday, December 08, 2005

#95 - To Communicate... or Not

To my extended family I am known affectionately as "the Great Communicator." You may safely take this to mean that communication - of the type generally craved by the female of the species - is not my long suit. This is not to say that I am, by nature, a taciturn individual. On the contrary; I can blab up a storm with the best of them. But to convey meaningful information requires certain genes which are, sadly, lacking in my chemical makeup. True to the Dave Barry mold of guys and interpersonal communications, the following scene is not uncommon in my home:
[Phone rings. I answer because Mrs. Woody tossed the phone to me shortly after I plopped my fanny down in the Sensory Saturation Seat to watch some TV.]

"Hello? Yes? Oh, hi. Mm, hm. Yeah. Yeah. Sounds good. Ok, talk to you later."

[Hang up. Resume watching TV. After about three minutes, Mrs. Woody can no longer take the suspense.]

Mrs. Woody: "Well?"

Me: "Well, what?"

Mrs. Woody: "Who was it?"

Me: "Oh. That was Mom."

Mrs. Woody: "And what did she want?"

[At this point I'm in the middle of a critical part of CSI wherein Grissom discovers that certain species of fly only bite their victims in the groin, thus allowing him to solve the case. It's a minute or two before I answer.]

Me (finally remembering the question): "Oh. She's getting married. Wanted to know if we'd like to come to the wedding."

Mrs. Woody (after a brief, stunned silence): "And when, exactly, is the wedding?"

Me (after searching feverishly for the proper response): "Um... this Saturday."

Ok, so maybe I'm not quite that bad, although my ex-wife might choose to disagree.

I blame Dad. Dad was probably the greatest non-verbal communicator I've ever known. He could communicate more with a glance than most politicians do in their entire careers (not that this is necessarily a challenge). Most of his glances were not hard to decipher. I've mentioned previously the mischievous eye twinkle that portended a blistering sarcasm. There was also the look that said, "If public execution were still legal, you'd already be dead." I got that one a lot when I was a teenager. Probably deserved it. That one also appeared whenever the TV Guide went missing. Or, there was the glance that said, "Getcher fanny up those stairs and tell your sister to TURN DOWN THAT STEREO!" I used to misread that one as looking to heaven for some kind of divine assistance. Then I finally figured out that it was really a glare directed at the location of my sister's room. Dad could be more verbal at work, but for them he tended to reserve his - shall we say - saltier language. Aerospace can do that to a man.

The good news is that the non-verbal gene recedes generationally. I'm a better verbal communicator than Dad ever was, but I still possess a high degree of reticence to share personal data. Mrs. Woody loves me dearly, but there have been times she could have (lovingly) throttled me. She gets a lot of, "Oh, yeah! Meant to tell you that..."

The irony of it all is that, when I choose to communicate, I'm darned good at it. I love to teach, for example. My favorite callings at Church have all been teaching jobs; especially youth, or Gospel Essentials. I obviously enjoy writing, although I am the world's lousiest correspondent. (Email? Who has time? I've gotta get this posted on my blog...!)

I also love acting. Getting up on a stage and making an absolute idiot of myself is my way of relaxing. I enjoy connecting with an audience (hence my love of teaching, I suppose), and when I can make them laugh - on purpose! - I know I've done my job. I can even lecture my kids when the need arises, as it frequently does when kids are being kids.

So you will understand the humor of the situation when Bishop called and asked to stop by the house last night. We were released as Family History Consultants (a calling I have thoroughly enjoyed). He then asked if I would be willing to serve as a...

Ward Public Affairs Specialist.

Yes. Woody, the Great Communicator, has been asked to serve as one of the primary communicators for our ward. (Just don't tell anyone.) The Lord, apparently, has finally run out of things he wants the ward to know.

It's the only reasonable explanation.

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