Isaac Watts would not have liked me much

July 12, 2023

“He had no words to waste upon the idle groups who haunted the circles of fashion; a kind of intellectual avarice prevented him from casting his pearls away with a careless hand; he was a servant of the altar, not the high-priest of the drawing-room. An acute writer has remarked, that it is the province of mediocrity to talk, but of genius to observe; and it is singular how many of those with “the pale cast of thought Upon their brow,” have been defective in conversation. Virgil, Isocrates, Descartes, Chaucer, Addison, and Goldsmith, had no talent for colloquial discourse; the intellectual wealth they had amassed, lay in solid bars, not in current coin.”

Life, times, and correspondence of the Rev. Isaac Watts, D.D, by Thomas Millner

I wish I were like this. But no. In a crowd my brain goes into paralysis while unfortunately my mouth does not. No. It goes into hyperdrive, spilling out an endless supply of utter nonsense if I am lucky but more likely a bunch of obnoxious opinions badly stated that I later realize could easily be interpreted as insults and sneers. Or worse.

On one stellar evening my horrified but also petrified brain could only listen in stark alarm as it found my mouth balking all attempts at control in order to explain the political landscape and current events of Poland to a gentlemen just introduced to me. This was bad enough, since I knew practically nothing of these topics but the American headlines of the week, but the gentleman patiently listening to my runaway mouth was, as my panicked brain kept trying to remind my mouth, Polish. Not of Polish descent removed 3 generations, but Polish newly off the plane about 3 months. I am sure he was grateful for my wisdom.

At least this episode adds variety to that endless loop of cringe moments in my life that wake me up in the middle if the night to writhe in bootless psychological and social agony.