Sometimes I speak Swahili. It’s the only possible explanation. Except for the fact that people who speak Swahili can’t understand me, either. So maybe sometimes I speak a heretofore-unknown but terribly clever secret language.
Yeah, that’s gotta be it.
Has this ever happened to you? I’m standing in front of somebody flapping my gums, and I think I’m being perfectly clear. Then I see the glaze of bewilderment in their eyes.
I try harder. I explain it a different way.
If they’re nice, polite people, they try really hard, too. They frown in concentration. They watch my lips. They try to read my body language for a clue. And incomprehension spreads across their faces like local anaesthetic during dental surgery.
Eventually, we give up by tacit agreement. They nod and pretend to understand. I nod and pretend to believe them. We walk away frustrated, brains feeling like wrung-out sponges.
Or, if they’re not particularly polite, their eyes dart sideways before they sneak a glance at their watch and exclaim, “Geez, look at the time! Gotta go!” And then they flee.
Frankly, I don’t blame them.
I hate it when words fail me. The problem is, they don’t fail me in the sense of refusing to come out of my mouth. They fail me in the sense of refusing to come out of my brain in any kind of useful pattern.
That happened to me the other day on a blog. I wrote a comment. I checked the comment over and edited it, because I’m anal and that’s just what I do. Then I posted the comment. When the blogger replied, it seemed words had failed me again.
Written words are worse than spoken ones. When you’re standing in front of somebody, your voice and expression and body language combine with your speech to get your message across. But a few black squiggles on a white background can’t do that, and when I read them again, my words didn’t say what I really meant to say. I felt like an idiot.
So I posted another comment, explaining what I’d really meant, and apologizing if I sounded like an idiot.
Then I felt like an idiot apologizing for being an idiot. Sheesh.
Life would be so much easier if we could just do a Vulcan mind-meld. Then we could understand each other completely, bang, in a single moment. Imagine the time and frustration it would save.
Then again, I’m not sure anybody would want to mind-meld with me. You really don’t want to know what’s lurking inside this skull. Maybe Harry Potter’s Pensieve would be a better solution. Just yank out the specific thought you want to convey and pass it on.
Hmm. Nice idea, but I don’t know where to get a Pensieve. Maybe I’ll just get a T-shirt that says, “I’m not really an idiot, I just sound like one sometimes.”
At least I hope it’s only sometimes.
Did any of this make sense?