We Still Like Ike
Volume III, Issue II - Fall 2012
  • We are not speaking. In other words, our phone lines don’t connect. We do not peck out texts to one another. Our mouths do not open when we see each other; our tongues and breath don’t collude to make noise. Noise that calls the other to respond.

    At first, there were brisk hello’s: our tongues sliding quickly against the roofs of our mouths, bouncing off our front teeth. Tight smiles. Those stopped. Now we look the other way. It started with you. But I ratcheted it up. You were a loyal friend until you weren’t, which to me is not being loyal.

    We are not speaking. Unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Speak no evil.

    To me, not speaking is a lowly thing. Not speaking is not nice. I hate to say the words aloud. Not speaking. Ugly words. I used to believe that could only happen in a certain class, to certain people. To people who didn’t know how to communicate, resolve problems. The Hatfields and the McCoys. People who were eager to appear on Jerry Springer, to yell at the people to whom they were not speaking. In a book I read as a child, a simple country couple stopped speaking to each other. They were both obstinate.  ............

  • They crossed their arms and sat on hard wooden benches, and didn’t talk or get up to close the door to their cottage. Animals and thieves came in to ruin and rob them. All the while, they sat with their arms crossed, stubbornly not speaking.

    In academia, in my department, certain people don’t speak to other certain people. Colleagues who have known each other for years silently glide past one another in the hallways. You do not speak to me. I do not speak to you. We are just two of the twosomes of non-speakers. I never thought I would join these ranks.

    It seems even worse when family members don’t speak. In my family, my sister does not speak to her ex-husband. This is so common that it hardly falls into the nonspeaking category. But then she and my brother stopped speaking. And then my niece and her father. Now I don’t speak to my brother. There are others. It is hard to keep track of who is not speaking. I am too ashamed to speak of these non-speakings.

    Then a friend mentioned an estrangement between a woman she knew and her son and I had an epiphany. Estranged? Such an elegant word. Upper crust. Refined. They are not not speaking.  ............

  • They have become strange to one another. It has become strange to lift the phone, move the tongue. Not immovable. Mysterious. I feel better.

    What can I say?

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