Mr. Soliloquy

The one thing about Nate I’ve never gotten used to is his penchant for talking to himself. Maybe it taps into the worst of times, when he was uncommunicative and spent all his time with his fingers held up in the air, reciting lines from movies and books, chattering away. Those were the toughest times, knowing he could talk, but unable to connect.

As he’s gotten older, Nate has made enormous strides in conversation, though he’s still off a bit. During the day, he’s learned to cloak his non sequiturs in the guise of conversation, starting what would have once been a monologue with “Hey Dad, did you know…?” or “Mom, remember when…?” It gives the semblance of discourse, though it really isn’t. For those who check Nate’s Facebook status you can see an example of that today.

“Does anyone remember the “Chef James” from my cooking school at Whole Foods Market in Deerfield, IL. That happened in 9/2/2001, and today is the name’s 10th anniversary (2001-2011)!”

This is one of Nate’s favorite childhood episodes, a pizza making birthday party at the supermarket. His friend at the time, James, was dubbed “Chef James” by Nate and he refers to it all the time, even a decade later. But you see what I mean. He’s turned a monologue into a shared story. Good work.

It’s at night when he jabbers relentlessly. It bothers me on several levels. It shows, loudly and clearly, how different he is. It also tends to keep me up; Nate’s room is right next door to ours. Karen’s right though when she says Nate should be allowed the freedom to talk to himself in the safety of his own room. Everyone needs a safe place, a sanctuary. I know that, but often I’ll yell to him.


“All right, all right, I’ll shut up,” he answers. Sometimes. Other times he ‘ll say “If you tell me to be quiet one more time, I’m gonna kill you.” He doesn’t mean it, I think.

After my spinal surgery, Karen and I slept on the couches in our TV room. It was easier for me to roll off the couch and prop myself up from the floor than to roll out of a high bed. Nate slept in our room for days. I could hear him, watching TV and talking loudly to himself. He was having a ball, and my voice was shot from having a breathing tube during the five hour operation. There was no one to tell him to pipe down, though occasionally Karen did tell him to stop.

When we returned to our bedroom, Nate was happy, though his non-stop party had ended. “Guys, it’s great to have you back up here!” As I continued to recover, it was actually soothing to hear Nate’s non-stop monologue from his room. It was a sign things were getting back to normal.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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