Okay, so I’m a blurter.

By Cornelia Read

Unlike JT, I am NOT actually at Thrillerfest. But I find myself in New York City anyway so last night I went down to Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop for the T-Fest group signing and party. And by the end of the evening, I was totally blurting stories. Which, you know, I tend to do HERE, but when you find yourself telling your Albanian waiter at the beautiful Italian restaurant you are having dinner at with Toni McGee Causey and Allison Brennan and Keith Raffel and Sean Chercover and Keith’s gorgeous, brilliant daughter Madeline… wait, where was I? Oh, yes… telling your Albanian waiter IN THE MIDDLE OF PEOPLE AT YOUR TABLE ORDERING DINNER FROM HIM that your mother’s boyfriend’s father was once the King of Albania’s doctor, and that this job–although it was given to Mr. Mom’s Boyfriend’s Dad to get him and his family out of Nazi Germany–came with a house, a butler, and a housekeeper (who was married to the butler) AND that when Mom’s boyfriend’s family finally made it to New York City in the Thirties, Mrs. Mom’s Boyfriend’s Mother kept in touch with the housekeeper, and wrote her a letter from Manhattan saying “I know you won’t believe it, but I actually cook and clean all by myself again,” the housekeeper wrote back, “Oh, Mrs. [Cornelia’s Mom’s Boyfriend’s Mother], I am sure that you are a wonderful cook and keeper of houses, but my goodness, WHO GREETS THE GUESTS?” Because I guess that’s your first thought when you’re married to a butler. In Albania. Or something.

Anyway, did I mention blurting? Yes. Blurtissima, that would be me.

And, also, earlier in the evening, I was telling the lovely and patient Robert Crais all about the three generations of women in my family’s tattoos. Um, possibly there was quite a bit of wine involved in the evening. I’m just saying.

But. This may also have been prompted by the fact that my daughter just got a tattoo. While we were driving home from the Adirondacks the other day. Okay, not actually WHILE WE WERE DRIVING. We stopped the car and got out and everything. In Rutland, Vermont (known to the locals as “Rut Vegas.”) This is because my daughter, who is seventeen, has been heavily researching tattoos–specifically where you can get one done when you are underage but your mother is a little wacky and will give you permission–which turns out to be, ahem, only in Vermont. Hence, a pitstop in Rut Vegas at a tattoo parlor called Long Trail Tattoos, at which my kid got inked with the thing she’s wanted for the last year or so and has been begging me to let her get. So now she has a pierced nose (promised to her “if and when you actually get into college.” Whereupon she gets in early decision, go figure.)

And also, when she wants something, she looks at you like this. Though this is also the “OMFG, will you STOP taking pictures of me already?” face. And of course the piercing is on the other side of her nose so it’s not like you can see it, here.

Where was I? Oh yes, the tattoo:

This would be the “before” picture. Natch.

Here is when we got underway:

And here is more “underway”:

And here is the final product:

And the reason she wanted to get it so much is because her twin sister’s name is Lila, and Lila’s nickname is “Lila Bean,” and Grace feels tremendously attached to and protective of her, what with Lila having such severe autism and everything. So, you know…. how can a mom say no to THAT, right? It made me totally tear up when she first told me she wanted it, and she has been unwavering in the desire for a whole year. And, um… I am a wuss and apparently not too conservative in the parenting department. Oh, and a blurter. We were talking about blurting. (Remember Alice? This is a song about Alice...)

So we have been in Alaska and the Adirondacks in the last two weeks, and then two days ago I drove to New York, and on Wednesday I’m flying to Wyoming to go shooting with my 93-year-old Uncle Bill. Who is a great storyteller. And, I hope, a blurter, like moi. In fact, here is one of HIS stories:

Two Coconuts and a Navy Cross, click click click

And I am looking forward to hearing about way more of his adventures. AND shooting. Because the man can shoot.

And that is my blurt for this morning… can you guys share a time when you overshared? Because it would make me feel WAY better about my mouthy evening last night….

32 thoughts on “Okay, so I’m a blurter.

  1. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Cornelia

    Great post, as always. Love the sentiment behind your daughter's tattoo.

    I try not to overshare, for the main reason that because I don't drink I never have the excuse of there being alcohol involved. Besides, I'm too nosy and enjoy listening ;-]

    Have a ball on your travels!

  2. billie

    I love your stories. I think sometimes we just have too many in our heads and they have to come out so we don't spontaneously combust!

    That is the kind of tattoo I would give permission for as well. Made me tear up just reading about it.

  3. David Corbett

    Bad news: Sadly, there is no cure for logorrhea. Pray, my child.

    Good news: There are some reports that God or certain angels disguise themselves as Albanian waiters.

    Share a moment of over-sharing? I feel like I've spent have my life yammering into an indulgent smile.

    But these two stand out:

    1. When Terri walked by me on the street in Berkeley that fateful day, and I was thunderstruck with love, following her like Cupid's stalker into the Clarinet Cafe on Shattuck (do you remember it?). Later, she'd say it took me ten minutes to get up the nerve to talk to her, then I didn't shut up for two hours.

    2. In Guatemala, when I met Ms. MuttFish at the first-night gathering of Joyce Maynard's writing retreat on Lake Atítlan, I was feeling no pain, as they say. And apparently no restraint. I practically nailed her to a tree with verbiage. This time the post-encouter description would be: "All transmission, no reception."

    And, as the stories in question should make plain, there is indeed life after blurting. Otherwise I'd have thrown myself off a cliff by now (jabbering like Popeye all the way down).

    In short: I share your pain.

    P.S. Grace has grown into such a stunning young woman — with a big fat heart. You must be stupid with pride. And Uncle (Barnacle) Bill's two-coconut tale made my god damn day. Jesus. What those men went through.

    Thanks a million. This was much fun.

  4. Fran

    What a great tattoo! Who could say no to that, I ask you?

    My mom used to chat with everyone. Cashiers, people in line, strangers at restaurants. It embarrassed the living hell out of me as a teenager.

    Now I do it. All the damn time. A simple "How's your day going?" from someone might very well get them "Well, the insurance company futzed around so that I can't get my knee injections until next week except that I have to have three consecutive weeks free for them which means I can't begin them until August, so. . ." blather blather blather when the poor dear simply wanted a non-committal "Fine."

    On the other hand, years and years ago at about 2 in the morning I sat in my car through a green light, and a cop was behind me. He turned on his lights and came up, fully prepared to arrest the drunk. I looked at him and said, "You're a guy, let me ask you something. If a girl's gonna break up with you, would you prefer that she do it quick and get it over with, or let it fade out over time? Which works best for you because I really don't know what to do."

    His eyes got big, he stepped back and said, "Quick. Just do it and get it over with. Oh, and you sat through a green light."

    I shook my head, said "I'm so sorry! Thanks!" He waved me on and darted back to his car. So sometimes oversharing has a positive effect.

  5. Cornelia Read

    David, mon semblable, mon frere… I love your verbiage. And your own great big heart. And your mix CDs. And… well. Books. And stuff. You rock.

  6. Cornelia Read

    Fran, THAT is a fabulous story. And I wish I'd been so lucky with the last four cops who've pulled me over. Though I did tell one that he shouldn't be outside without a hat, because it was way too cold.

  7. Ariel Zeitlin Cooke

    Yes, David, in Manhattan, angels disguise themselves as Albanian waiters. Or possibly Peter Falk. RIP. I loved that movie Wings of Desire so damned much it makes me tear up to think of it and of Peter Falk dying. Which–really!–isn't entirely unrelated to your post, Cornelia, because it was a blurt, which is the subject of said post. And of course I am your separated-at-birth twin Blurtina. Blurting is all part of this serendipitous journey we are taking through life (though sadly not enough of the mileage is being acquired together often enough).

    Seriously–Do you remember the time I told that young English dinner guest of your mother's at the Dower House that aristocrats were "marauders" and it turned out he was some kind of actual lord? Of course the ascot should have tipped me off. But there I was ranting away. Anyway, he got red in the face and sputtered with indignation and I was just mortified until Deborah said "That's why he came to the United States, so Ariel could tell him aristocrats are marauders." So I guess she believes in blurting too.

  8. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I think your daughter is amazing. I love the tattoo and the sentiment behind it. As far as the parenting….I would have done the same. I'm with you one hundred percent.
    I also got the Alice's Restaurant reference, which confirms that I'm just an old hippie.
    My oversharing came after my first year of college when I was filled with the enthusiasm and immortal potential of youth, combined with a sliver of education. I saw lots of rolling eyes that year.

  9. Louise Ure

    Oh, honey. Grace has such a big heart. I'm glad she got the tattoo.

    And Fran, that is simply the best blurting story ever.

    Safe travels!

  10. Alafair Burke

    Not sure it counts as blurting, but I once accidentally walked out of a gym locker room into the free weights room — nekkid. Oh, wait, I guess typing that here counts as blurting, even if the original incident did not.

    Great to see you last night!

  11. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I love the tattoo; I've not met her yet, but I think Grace is amazing.

    And yes, Fran, best oversharing story ever.

    I'm generally an undersharer but I have a very serious tendency to overshare about my few bisexual experiences when I find myself in the company of homophobes. I just can't seem to help myself.

  12. Tom

    Guess you come by it honestly, Cornelia; ballistic coconuts being a physical analog to logorrhea.

    More cheers to Miss Grace, so aptly named.

  13. MBH

    You make me laugh and cry and smile. Your stories always rock. Grace is the bomb. The coconuts story is just JFN and amazing. Ya, I'm pretty sure I overshare and blurt, drunk or sober, tho it usually takes some serious diesel (aka Lapphroig-ish) before I start sharing that "Table For 1" is a C**T. Happy travels and shooting. Meet me in NH soonest when you return. I also adore the other comments– marauders, indeed!
    Sucks Ahoy, until we meet at the SinkyTowne YC !

  14. allison davis

    Is that what this disease is? Blurting? How I get cab drivers in NYC to talk…my favorite blurting is in crowded elevators where everyone is trying to mind themselves and just get to the bottom ("Does this elevator go directly to Harrington's bar?"). If I get everyone to laugh, it makes my day. I blurted in class since I was little (and I was loud, too),on buses, I moo in crowds at the ballpark so it cheers people up and they don't push…my most recent blurt was at a closing dinner. You have these "closing dinners" when transactions have gone on for years, the client has paid millions and the damn deal finally closes. Elaborate speeches, gifts, everyone who was so on edge for months is now all soft and cozy with martinis. One of my partners was waxing philosophical over Mark, a young man who went from associate to partner during the transaction. Mark was standing next to his wife Jamie who was 9 months and five minutes pregnant. Steve the partner was saying how Mark sacrificed his family life to work on this deal and he was never home…and of course I blurted out, "Oh he made it home at least one night…." At which point, even the clients laughed. It was a really bad blurt.

  15. allison davis

    PS My 15 year old niece just came to stay and we got her nose pierced. I suspect the tattoo is coming. Thanks for the preview.

  16. Jenni

    Cornelia, nice post. Yikes! I overshare at the very worst possible, wrong moments and always feel really stupid afterwards. I went to a baby shower a few weeks ago, and someone asked me a question about growing up overseas, and before I knew it, I was telling a crocodile story from my African childhood. I beat myself up for days about how inappropriate it is to tell a story of violent death at a baby shower. My sister told me the only thing worse would have been talking about birth defects or stillborn births. Just shoot me now before I put my foot in my mouth again …

  17. Reine

    OK,C – This is my worst (or is it my best) blurt ever: I'm in small class I had to write an essay to get into because Bernadette Brooten (Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism http://www.amazon.com/Love-Between-Women-Christian-Homoeroticism/dp/0226075923/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310238969&sr=1-2 ) my triumph of my way-too-many years in school practicing essay writing . . . OK . . . she is explaining how we can see something very special in Widener library. Everyone is listeneng hugely close-like, because she is the goddess they are there for, and with loud disgust I say, "Huh, Widener Library, 76 stairs before you get to anything useful." OK, so she laughed but I was dog shit with my classmates ever after.

  18. Reine

    Allison – Seriously? You go to Harrington's? I'm a Harrington. Ach. There I go again.

  19. PD Martin

    Definitely prone to blurting! And the old foot in mouth problem. But while I don't tend to chat and blurt to strangers, I often overshare info with friends and acquaintances. Too many instances to think of one, but if one comes to mind I'll be back! I also tend to talk about gruesome research details at dinner parties. Sometimes it's met with interest and other times, not so much.

    Alafair…naked in a gym. Talk about nightmares coming true 🙂 Also funny, of course.

  20. Gayle Carline

    First of all, your daughter is the bomb, and you would have been a bad mother to deny her that tattoo. She is also most sensible, since she carefully planned the tattoo and thought about it for a year, instead of plopping down in some inky den, drunk as a skunk, and mumbling something about penguins on roller skates.

    Not that I've ever done that.

    For me, blurting is only done after my brain has specifically said, "Don't do it. Don't say that. No, no, no. Stop here." It's almost like a dare. My most fun blurting was when I was doped up in preparation for my C-section. My doctor, Jerry Thanos, was a partner with his brother, Nick. As the nurses fussed around me, both Jerry AND Nick walked in to surgery. I looked up at them and said, "Wow, both of you. Do two Thanoses make a Thanii?" The nurses laughed and laughed, and I got away with it because I was on drugs.

    Better living through chemistry, I always say.

  21. JT Ellison

    Cornelia, I'm so sorry we missed you!

    I am an inveterate blurter. Too socially awkward for words.

    And hugs to Grace and her LilyBean tattoo. What a girl!

  22. Reine

    I too love that Grace has a Lila Bean tatoo. Hugely wish that our Paul felt as connected with our Kris. xxxR

  23. Marcus

    Yes, plenty guilty of blurting – last time was inflicting my thoughts on depression and happiness upon someone who was just about to scatter her father's ashes.

  24. Hyperbolyst

    I used to be a blurter (Cornelia, does the name Dick Cheney conjure any memories of blogospheric blurting from a previous generation?) but then I wised up, buttoned down, and got back to BIDNESS…

    And it's bidness, to be perfectly honest, that brought me here to see who it was was bragging about being a blurBer. Oh, good (said I to myself), Who's blurBing whom, and how might I (as a shall-we-say "industry professional") capitalize on this individual's confessional weakness? What favors might s/he be willing to offer up to a skilled CONversationalist, since CONversation is part of the bidness to which I devote myself…

    Anyway, I was a couple grafs into this, fascinated/horrified (as a fellow parent of teenage daughters) by where this little sojourn was going, before I realized you were talking about blurTing, not blurBing–and that *I* was actually ENJOYING myself. Reading for PLEASURE? (Me, I mean, being a bidness-man & all.) Weird–but sure, why not? On the other hand, if my daughters learn about Rut Vegas, my ass is grass. Damn you, you progressive parent you! And if you can't manage to be more severe as a parent, more close-minded, can't you at least, y'know, not BLURT about it all over the effing internet?!

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