I can’t talk. That’s right—not one word. I know this is a welcome respite to those who must listen to me on a regular basis, but not talking is not my thing. I have laryngitis and have suffered the plight of the speechless for almost 48 hours now and it’s getting very old.
Al and I watched Jeopardy last night, as we always do, and he completely obliterated me even though I was desperately whispering many (ok, some) of the correct answers. He never heard me, and didn’t believe I knew them, so it came down to a case of he said/she said, except she couldn’t say anything.
I never realized how essential one’s vocal chords are for daily functioning. I answered the phone each time it rang today, but the person on the other end didn’t have a clue who I was or what I was trying to say. Solicitors probably thought I was just messing around with them (Pee Wee Herman style) so they’d hang up. My daughter kept calling back, “Mom, are you there? Hello?” as I silently shouted, “Yes, Alli, I’m here,” as she hung up again and again.
This morning, I went to Dunkin Donuts, and had to write my order on a napkin and hand it to the clerk. Her eyes widened with fear when she looked down at the writing, probably thinking she was about to be robbed. A few minutes later, sitting at a table by the window, I tried to swallow an Advil with my steaming hot coffee so I wouldn’t have to buy a water, and the capsule lodged in my throat.
I frantically took out my cell phone and texted: “Pill stuck in throat, need cup of water,” and handed it to the same clerk. Again, a look of alarm swept across her face as she read the words on my phone and said in a hushed voice, “I understand.” What the hell did that mean? We weren’t in a James Bond movie passing secret codes, I just needed a glass of water. Eventually, she gave it to me, but by then the pill had already made its way down my esophagus.
After this stressful experience, I headed over to my son Jay’s house to check on the status of his two dogs, who were supposedly confined to a pen inside the living room while he and Kim were working. Annie and Tank, both big, black, rambunctious puppies, have destroyed four rugs, two couches and about 100 stuffed animals, so they have officially been placed under house arrest.
When I pulled into Jay’s driveway, I could see the indoor pen he had built through the front window, and it was quite obviously devoid of inmates. I got out of the car and went closer, and saw a furry beast standing on the sofa and running back and forth excitedly. It was Tank, the accidental love child of a bulldog mother and a Labrador dad, both of whom lived next door to me. He resembled a bully in the face but had the floppy ears and long legs of a Lab, and happy, face-licking, sweet slob demeanor. When he was born, he was by far the biggest of his 7-littermates, which earned him his name.
Right behind this brown-eyed behemoth stood Annie, a “Gentle Giants” rescue dog, who had arrived from Georgia for adoption 11 months ago. Her sleek black coat and agile body are more regal than her lumbering stepbrother, and she moved with an easy grace from the couch to the coffee table. I’m convinced the long-snouted, jewel-collared dogs pictured on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs were Annie’s ancestors.
I texted Jay immediately. “The dogs are loose. They’re running amok.”
“Are you kidding me?” he replied. “I made that pen five feet high and anchored it with 50 pound dumbbells. How could they possibly have gotten out?”
I soon found out how. The two 4-legged Houdinis must have exited through the pet door that was accessible from their pen, went into the fenced yard and then returned via the kitchen door, which they had pushed in and was now wide open filling the house with frigid air.
As I closed and locked the door, my cell phone rang. “Mom, go into our bedroom, and see if they destroyed anything,” said Jay. His voice was heavy with a sense of dread. I walked into the room that he and Kim had just finished renovating. It smelled of fresh paint and new carpet and I was almost afraid to look around to assess the damage.
In the grand scheme of accidents caused by these canine vandals, it was only a fender-bender. A large pet bed was destroyed with chunks of blue foam strewn across the room leaving a deflated mass of plaid fabric on the floor. And a wet toddler diaper had been extracted from the trash and shredded to pieces on the rug.
I tried to yell at Tank and Annie as they bounded into the room and began a tug of war with what was left of the dog bed, but the only sound I could make was a pathetic wheeze. My silent pleas went unheeded until I hauled Tank out of the room by a handful of his excess skin, much as a mother cat would pick up a kitten in her mouth and transport it elsewhere.
I wanted to call the dogs out into the yard, but you need a voice for that. I wanted to tell Alli about the turn of events at her brother’s house, but that too was impossible. And when my cell phone ran out of juice, even my ability to text a message to the speaking world was over.
But I guess there was an upside to this non-verbal day that I was begrudgingly subjected to. As Confucius once said: “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”
Of course, that was just one of 369 other quotes (https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/15321) attributed to the great philosopher. Apparently this guy had plenty to say for someone who was advocating silence.
Here is another pithy piece of his advice— “And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” ― Confucius
Is that really so meaningful and wise? It sounds more like a line from the Three Stooges to me.
“Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk, no matter where you go, there you are.” —Curly
“Shut up, you Knucklehead!”—Moe
How’s that for wise and discerning?