There’s something to be said for staying quiet. I once tried to speak and spook instead, and let me tell you, that was an embarrassment, yes the proverbial egg had cracked and dribbled down its partner chin that day. In high school I tried to take a vow of silence, would write out standard comments on flimsy flash cards, refuse to answer questions, though it usually never lasted more than an hour. It’s easy to forget to hate the world, or sometimes bitching makes the hating fun, but mostly I’d forget and speak or spook or spork and an hour of work would be down the drain and I’d have to hop on one foot and yell about the miracle of the juniper bushes and start my penance over.
But there’s something to be said for staying quiet. I did the math today, and I have passed through 97% of my 20s, will, in fact, begin my thirties nigh under three months from now, and talk and talk and talk as I might, it never seems to get me anywhere. It’s okay to have opinions, but sharing them might be the problem, and I get the biggest social hangovers after even an hour of people, all of them strangers, strangers in a country where I’m the strange one, the English speaker, the foreign devil, and sometimes it’s hard not to feel lonely, but when you speak and speak and get back garbled English half-understood, it’s hard not to ask yourself why you’d spoken (or spooken or sporken) in the first place, what it added to the world of discourse or even just the conversation at hand.
It’s the hangout hangover, where I sit on the sofa after a conversation and repeat what I’ve said in my head and weigh it against what might have been expected, accepted, appropriate, like when I referenced Irish twins to an English woman I know, or when I accidentally called her a bird, forgetting that’s British slang, and not classy either, or when I bring up fascism to a German or have to awkwardly defend my own country when someone brings up the fascists there, and I say it’s not all bad, we’ve got some good things, like free refills and freedom and how you can order something from a store and not wait 10 weeks for it to get delivered, and I forget whatever minutely clever things I may have uttered and remember only the missteps and mistakes and misunderstandings, all the things missed in this most basic of transmissions, the exchange of culture and knowledge and data through bits of sound forced through a cartilaginous box embedded in my throat, and I tell myself never again, never again, never again, but I always find a way because it’s either that or feeling lonely, a stranger in a strange land, grok grok grok.
Still, though, there’s something to be said for staying quiet.