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I heard myself saying to myself once : “You talkin’ to me ?”.  I thought I was quoting Bob de Niro, but I found out later that his famous improvisation in “Taxi Driver” was a steal from an Alan Ladd movie twenty years before.  Anyhow, I naturally answered myself and said “Yes”.  (The movie is, of course, the all-time 1953 classic Western, starring Ladd, van Heflin and an already scary Jack Palance.  Inevitably somewhat dated, it remains a cinematic epic which,  different from so many golden oldies, is in no way embarrassing or ridiculous in an era marked by Redford and Newman and Eastwood.)

I have been talking to myself for as long as I can remember.  But when I was young, mostly it was when I thought I was talking to invisible people like Jesus, His Mum and His Dad.  Now I know they were not only not listening; they no longer existed or never did.  Today, just this side of eighty, I no longer talk to them.  But like lots of old folks I enjoy chatting with the most interesting person I know : me.  (The two rules are never contradict yourself and never lose your temper with yourself.)  I can ask myself questions like “Where did I leave my keys ?”, and talking about it out loud often helps me remember where they are.  Sure beats asking God or St Anthony of Padua to find them for you : as one of them never existed and the other died seven hundred years ago, they are not a lot of help.

I know people who still think God is listening to them.  No harm – but not much point either – in that.  When I talk out loud I know that at least one person is listening, me, and on occasion others as well.  After chatting with them I’m likely to talk to myself about what they said, if, like everything I myself say, it happened to be interesting.  So many people have nothing to declare.

Someone once told me that I was talking but not saying anything.  It is one of my recognized talents.  I can even write (you may have noticed) without saying anything.  But it’s better than praying to Someone who is not there.

RIDENDA   RELIGIO

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