My father had a stock response whenever any of his offspring asked him a question about, well, you name it. “NOYDB,” he would reply which meant, of course, “None of your damn business.” He might tell you what time it was if you were extremely persistent but for the most part he kept his mouth shut about virtually everything, a talent I truly envy.
To this day I don’t know why he was so tight lipped but he was, from things that really weren’t anyone else’s business, such as the amount of his annual salary, to much more mundane things, such as what he had for lunch on any given day. He never struck me as an especially paranoid person; just an extremely private one, so private that I still don’t know if he was a Republican or a Democrat.
Part of me suspects that he never told us anything because he thought we should figure all of the little nuances of life out on our own and another part of me thinks he kept quiet because the man simply didn’t like to talk. Then there’s the third part of me that wonders if he wasn’t so taciturn because he knew it drove the rest of the family crazy(ier).
Over the years Dad mellowed and would occasionally share tidbits like what he thought about Oprah’s latest guest or that he preferred mushrooms more than green peppers on his pizza but he was well into his seventies before such earth shattering revelations occurred.
One would think that having grown up in such an extremely quiet and repressed household that one might have been trained not to stick her nose into other people’s business. One would be wrong. Growing up in a repressed household had the exact opposite effect on me since I was apparently born itching to know everything about everyone. That ingrained urge explains why I like to walk the dog at night (easier to see inside houses and check out how the neighbors decorate) and why I’m always on Facebook (a cornucopia of people with no privacy issues if ever there was one). While I know that the majority of things that people do/think/say really are NOMDB, I can’t seem to help myself. I am simply an extremely nosy person.
Naturally, I’ve learned (somewhat) to reign my nosiness in, at least to the point that I don’t scoot my chair closer to the table next to mine in a restaurant so I can hear the juicy details of some stranger’s affair. (You have no idea of how much I envied Lindsay Wagner’s bionic ear throughout my adolescence—that woman must have heard some fantastic stories.) But the core of my personality remains ridiculously curious about other people’s lives. This also explains why my favorite books are biographies and autobiographies, especially the unauthorized ones.
I think I have figured where my hard boiled desire to hear everyone else’s life story sprang from and it isn’t only because of my father’s reluctance to tell his children anything: my own life is incredibly dull. Maybe dull isn’t quite the right word. Placid might be better or possibly serene although that isn’t quite right. Maybe staid? Whatever it is, I’m not complaining; I actually like dull. Trips to the emergency room or having to visit one of those shady fly-by-night loan companies to borrow $3,000 or learning your husband has been living under an alias for your entire marriage can all be classified as exciting but that kind of excitement I can live without. No, placid suits me just fine. I will gladly listen and/or eavesdrop while other people tell me about their vacations, boyfriends and bosses. I really like hearing about their childhoods, pets and favorite recipes. The best part of all is that, thanks to today’s world of everyone sharing everything, this dull, placid, serene, staid nosy person has plenty to mull over without ever having to leave her laptop or get out of her bathrobe. Talk about win-win.