Cursing and Belittling

Week of March 13, 2002

Mar 13, 2002 at 4:00 am
Are you a self-affirmer or an admonisher -- or, like a parakeet in a cage, do you just enjoy hearing yourself chirp? What Do You Say When You Talk to Yourself?

Which is the proper vocation for a fine young dude: bass player with Mobile Chicken Party Unit or seller of video games in a West County strip mall? James Layman does both, and he amuses himself on a 45-minute commute from Alton. "My stereo got stolen, so there's nothing to do but talk, sing or fall asleep at the wheel," says Layman. "It's usually on the negative side, like when I've messed up something -- I'll damn myself to hell for being so ignorant. Really, there's lots of cursing and belittling. Well, my mom's not around, so somebody has to do it."

"Oh my gosh, I do tell myself things that I wouldn't say to anybody else," says Dr. Mary Rose Grant, assistant dean of St. Louis University's School for Professional Studies. "I guess if I'm trying to make a change in my life or considering something bizarre like running off to Mexico, I run it past my 'confidante,' my inner self, just in case this isn't the best idea. And when I talk to myself, it's always in a very positive way: I don't say, 'If I was richer or thinner, I could do this.' I always say, 'You can do anything you want.' I mean, other people always tell me I can do anything; it's just sometimes I have to convince myself -- but then I don't always listen to myself; that's the problem."

"I mutter to myself when I first open the door to the store," says Gus Torregrossa, owner of Gus's Shoes & Fashion on Washington Avenue at Tucker Boulevard, "and I wonder who's the first idiot who's gonna come in trying to return something he bought at Christmas -- shoes with paint spilled on 'em or a jacket with a broken zipper -- and tell me it came in the box like that." Gus was with Raymond DeConinck, owner of the Brussels Tigers American-football team. That's Brussels, Belgium, not Illinois. DeConinck was working with Gus to get his players some spiffy new uniforms for an upcoming game with the Charlevoix Cougars -- that's Charlevoix, Belgium, not Michigan.

Johnnie Corcoran, bass player with the band Rock God Superstar, pipes up while waiting on fries at the Lafayette Pub & Grille: "I say to myself, 'Johnnie, you're smart, you're handsome and you can do it.'" Corcoran also answers to the moniker Johnnie Rocker -- and, funny enough, he pulls out his lower lip; there on the inside is tattooed the word "rocker."

"Usually I remind myself of things I need to do and then criticize myself for the way I actually do them," offers Josh Adams, a mass-communications student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "Like, today, I'm telling myself I have to study, and then an hour later I'm still sitting in the chair, asking myself, 'Why aren't you studying?'"