The Sounds of Silence

My doctor-imposed four-day laryngitis silence is over and I can talk again. Of course I sound like a porn star and could probably get work as a phone sex operator, but the vocal chords are working again if even at 80 percent. Thank god, because it was embarrassing handing a note that said, “I have laryngitis and can’t talk. Please only ask me yes or no questions” to Sue the checkout lady at Bi-Lo Supermarket and Chuck at Country Farm Supply. Sue suggested I pin it to my shirt. It’s a good thing I couldn’t talk or I’d have told Sue what she could do with her suggestion.

I’m not catchy anymore, but you still might not want to eat the fat-free Cool Whip in my fridge. I ate a lot of Popsicles and Jell-O this week and of course, what’s Jell-O without Cool Whip? And why dirty any dishes when it was so easy to dip my germed-up spoon in the Cool Whip before dipping it in my little plastic cup of sugar-free Jell-O? There’s enough cold virus swimming in that vat of white fluff to take out the Taliban.

It was frustrating at first, this being silent. But once I realized that my husband really couldn’t read my mind, that my hand signals only made sense in my head, and that this was the way things had to be for a few days, I gave in and listened and lived in my little world without comment.

It takes patience to be silent. (Well, that and a prescription cough medicine.) Life is more interesting when you’re forced to listen and touch more and talk and taste less.

My dogs and cat know I love them just by they way I pet them. My words make no sense to them anyway.

A red-breasted woodpecker and an indigo bunting fed at our bird feeder yesterday and my talking would have scared them off.

A friend I usually talk to on the phone sent me email in place of verbal conversation. The silence ensured the stories that would usually get lost in vocal communication were completed. How many good stories never get finished when we talk to each other because the other person inserts his or her own story within our story, or we get distracted talking about something or someone else and we forget what we were saying in the first place?

If I were busy talking, I’d have missed watching the lady walking down the street holding the hand of what I assumed to be her 3-year-old granddaughter. The woman was smiling, they were walking slow, and the little girl was chatting about the bugs and grass that were so much closer to her little eyes than her grandmother’s.

The things I absolutely positively thought had to get done this week were put on hold. And guess what? The world didn’t end. Hell didn’t freeze over. The sun rose and set and it was lovely.

I was also reminded that the act of talking doesn’t mean the person you’re talking to is engaged in the act of listening. For instance, the one time I did “talk” during this silent week was on Tuesday night when Inconsiderate Touchy-Feely Psychiatrist Neighbor let his dog outside again without a leash. The dog ran over to our yard and began attacking our old diabetic cat who was just sitting on the grass grooving to the sunshine. Poor Bungee can’t run and defend himself like he used to and so he hunkered down as this dog tried to bite him.

Larry and I were on the porch and I flew out of my chair and “yelled,” but nothing came out. Larry got the dog off the cat as Inconsiderate Touchy-Feely Psychiatrist Neighbor called for his dog to come home. No apology, no acknowledgment that his “perfectly trained” dog had nearly killed my cat. So I “yelled” down the street, “Keep your DAMN DOG off my yard!” but he couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t hear me. And that’s when I realized that Inconsiderate Touchy-Feely Psychiatrist Neighbor wouldn’t have heard me even if I did have a voice. He hasn’t in the past and he won’t in the future. A little visit from the cops might improve his hearing a little, though.

Introspection of silence didn’t make me want to join hands and sing Kumbaya with stupid people. It just quieted my world a little and forced me to see and hear life with a little different focus.

And when I finally could eek out some words, I talked to my husband about space and life on other planets and the plight of the bumblebee. (More on that conversation in my next blog.) I had more interesting things I wanted to discuss than the grocery list, what chores had to get done, who was taking the dog to the vet next week. Now that I can talk, there’s plenty of time to discuss all that later. Space and time and rock and roll were much more interesting topics after four days of quiet. 

2 thoughts on “The Sounds of Silence

  1. Kev couldn’t understand why I burst out laughing at the part where you said your hand signals only made sense in your head. I just pictured you holding up the universal hand signal for…well…you know. lol I’m glad you’re on the mend.

  2. I am so glad you have your voice back, my friend! I know I don’t call you often, but knowing that I can makes all the difference somehow. On the other hand, maybe I missed my chance to get in the first – and last – word! :^)

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