A few nights ago Jacob and I sat talking on his front porch about personality traits we seem to share. We are introspective and reflective about ourselves and the people around us. Our questions usually circle around ‘why do people do what they do?’. Of course, we also ask that same question about ourselves. And then I might also ask myself, “Was I or had I been reactive or proactive?” when reflecting on interactions with someone I know.
Jacob and I are listeners and observers who sometimes find ourselves hearing the stories of others we do not know well. Yet often, with those closest to us, conversation is difficult and even impossible. The public persona is not the private persona.
From his dad, Jacob believes he inherited a charm. That is the word we used to describe it. My husband has a certain charming manner when he is in public social settings or with someone he does not know well. He jokes and laughs with people, especially women. Fortunately for him, I was a trusting wife who was never jealous of that. With men, he might talk for hours regaling them with his stories. I grew accustomed to him being gone for hours on what had promised to be a short trip. I always thought, “He’s still talking.” Since I was often uncomfortable in social settings, I admired his easy manner in charming people. I liked when people liked him. My father-in-law had that same charming manner. When he died, a young woman commented that she had always liked him. I knew exactly what she meant; it was that charming public persona. I have seen that same easy manner in Jacob. He can easily make conversation with strangers and acquaintances. At a funeral, I observed my cousins all laughing and smiling as Jacob sat there talking to them, and that picture reminded me of my husband. Unfortunately, Jacob’s wife was not trusting and often jealous.
Is that charming manner in the genes or something learned by observation?