Left in a lurch

My parents have four children. At the time we lived in 55 sq. meter flat, they had three. I was the eldest. My sister was 3 years younger and my brother 7 years younger than me. We all shared the same bedroom. Problem with three kids in the same room is that, instead of falling asleep, two of them fall into endless conversation during the night. More oft than not my sister and brother were those two. I was doing my best to fall asleep.

Their favorite topic was “Whom I will invite to my birthday party?” To me, those conversations were mostly futile since

  1. their birthdays were more than half year away
  2. their guest list depended on their mood that day
  3. they had limited circle of friends so during one evening some of those friends were several times put on and deleted from a list.

I often called any of my parents to make them shut up. They would shout and threaten from their bedroom (that was also our living room) and that was basically it. It is not that my parents did not treat us lovingly, they were just tired of the whole day’s work and needed some time for themselves.

Left in a lurch, I developed a strategy that made those talking sessions more bearable: In their age, ‘jokes’ they were telling were actually endless stories. I would ask my sister to tell me a joke. She would start but I never got to hear the end. I would fall asleep and so did she in the process.

How come conversation bothered me and joke did not? Joke bothered me as well, it just bothered me less. Jokes were told by the same person using the same (monotone) voice with mundane plot. It was easier for my brain to regard a joke as background noise than their conversation.