She will be involved in this blog, but only tangentially. Once, a long time ago, I was a reasonably interesting and funny conversationalist. I’m not saying I was being asked on the Sunday morning political shows or being invited to host the Oscars, but if I was on a topic I found interesting, I daresay I could make a dinner companion forget to eat his tuna carpaccio.
I have spent too many years spending a majority of my conversational energy talking to a small child, and I have been permanently damaged. My linguistic stumbles can be summed up in two phrases:
1. I state the obvious, and
2. I state the obvious repeatedly.
First things first. Recently, I was driving somewhere when I spotted a Yorkshire Terrier being walked down the sidewalk. I announced breathlessly, “Oh, look! There’s a Yorkie!”
Daughter and I like to look at animals, we like to talk about animals and we like to speculate and debate on the bloodlines of mixed-breed animals. We especially like small dogs, because they tend to be either cute or strange, and are frequently wearing outfits which become a whole secondary topic. One memorable day, we saw an extended family of Chihuahuas in traditional Mexican mariachi costumes.
In such ways, Daughter’s childhood passes.
Anyway, I went to the trouble of noting this dog, and waited for a response from the back seat. It was only then that I remembered Daughter was not in the car, and I was alone. Nonetheless, I was still kind of pleased about my small dog sighting. I was even more pleased I was alone. I’m not confirming this, but it’s possible I once shrieked “Ooh! Labradoodle!” while sharing a car with two adults I was trying to impress.
This is who I am now. I am the color commentator without any color. I say things like “Oh, good, you put on your bathing suit”, and “You hold the library books while I open the car door and then we’ll go to the library” and the incredibly insightful “Wash your face, please…oh, you’re washing your face already”. It’s as if I fear my brain might start playing “The Girl from Ipanema” if I leave a single moment of quiet.
Actually, to be completely accurate, the last phrase would have been more like “…Wash your face, please. WASH your face, with a washcloth, wash your face. Wash your face please. Oh, you’re washing your face already. You’ve already washed your face.”
And that is the other graceless part of my speaking pattern, the bit where I say everything repeatedly. On certain days, I sound as if I fell off of a second-story balcony and landed eyeball-first on a picket fence. But here’s the thing: I believe I need every single one of those words or my world grinds to a halt. To prove my point, we’re going to play a game. You, the reader, are going to be Daughter. I am going to play Quinn, a role I am hoping to pull off credibly.
You, Daughter, are in your room. You have been told three times that we are leaving. You were given fifteen’ minutes notice, ten minutes’ notice, and then five minutes’ notice to put on your socks and shoes. Your mother (Me) flies in the bedroom. You, as Daughter, are creating beds for Barbies out of your paperback books, all of which are on the floor. You have put on your socks.
QUINN: You must put on your shoes now.
Somewhere in your outer ear, this sentence gets trapped in a whorl and dies from lack of attention.
QUINN: NOW is the time to put on your shoes.
This sentence neatly leaps over the previous sentence dying in your outer ear, makes its way towards the smallest bones in the vicinity in the eardrum, and is summarily destroyed by a white blood cell which recognizes it as a foreign body.
QUINN: PUT DOWN THE BARBIE AND PUT ON YOUR SHOES.
You, as Daughter, are now confused. Mother is in your face, touching your shoulder to get your attention and speaking VERY CLEARLY. This is all puzzling; why is Mother going on about shoes? You aren’t wearing any. Clearly, this message is for Daddy. The third message reaches your brain and is quickly filed under “Mommy tells me things she really means to discuss with Daddy”
Mommy unaccountably grabs Barbie, trots to the kitchen, and places Barbie on the top of the fridge.
QUINN: IF YOU DON’T PUT ON YOUR SHOES, BARBIE WILL LIVE ON TOP OF THE FREEZER INDEFINITELY.
You, Daughter, realize Mommy is very, very emotional about something. You ask the only possible question.
DAUGHTER: What does “Indefinitely” mean?
MOMMY: PUT ON YOUR SHOES. PUT ON YOUR SHOES. PUT. ON. YOUR. SHOES. YOUR SHOES. PUT THEM ON. PUT THEM ON YOUR FEET. YOUR SHOES. PLEASE.
Somehow, when Mommy does Lamaze breathing and starts subtly frothing, that serves to shake loose the fifteen or so previous versions of the same sentence.
Somehow, shoes are put on.
I then say perceptively, “Your shoes are on”.
And with that, I go looking for my keys.