Completing other people’s sentences for them sounds like a very niche job for a person already in prison. Perhaps I should have described it as a nick job. It certainly wouldn’t have appealed in the days of capital punishment, unless the appeal worked.
Lady Brett Ashley, the central female character in Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, ‘The Sun Also Rises’, speaks to people without ever finishing her sentences, preferring to “let others finish them as they like.” She sounds to me — too late for a spoiler alert 96 years later — like a complete looney.
In our time, we have all probably been faced with exam questions which began with the words, “Complete the following sentence…” and essentially Lady Brett was asking people to help her cheat in everyday life.
Sometimes only a limited response is available to a sentence. There are, for example, just two possible answers to the question, “Will you marry me?” — or three, if you include “maybe.” (Or was that just my wife?) In Duck Soup, Groucho Marx, as Rufus T Firefly, says to the recently widowed Mrs Teasdale, “Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.”
If someone asks you which day you want to meet next week, you have 7 different options to choose from. Sounds easy enough, although I once turned up a day late for a job interview, no thanks to the remaindered calendar I bought from a shop called Poundland. It seemed like a bargain at the time (December 1997).
I have occasionally been spoiled for choice when expected to finish a sentence instigated by someone else which allowed for a plethora of replies. An Italian lady in a gelateria once said to me, “The flavours you want in your ice-cream cone are–” Famously indecisive about flavours — everyone has one fault — the formerly vast assortment of ice cream in the counter display had melted to half its original size by the time I had made up my mind that I didn’t want to pay for such small portions. Leaving the shop, I was glad I didn’t understand Italian.
One psychologist claimed that finishing other folk’s sentences is quite normal, adding that it is a sign of impatience, insecurity, or deafness. Apparently “eidetic” people retain vivid mental images that can actually remain visible to them; they can see an object for a few minutes after it is no longer present. That sometimes happens to me with my money, such is the sense of loss and regret. The correct description in that case is ‘heartbreak.’
At my age — although policemen constantly tell me I look much younger — I have few friends left to supply me with sentences to finish, as usual I am the last one to leave the party, long after the host has retired to his bed. He said something to me as he went upstairs with his candle, but I only caught half of what he was trying to say,