Monday, September 20, 2010

silence, endangered.

"to a poet, silence is an acceptable response, even a flattering one"
says the french novelist sidonie-gabrielle colette. i've never heard of her. it's fascinating how i can click around the internet and find everything i don't know about, and suddenly i know about it. i don't care to know much about colette beyond that quote, though. it stood out. i would appreciate it if i were next to the water or in the forest. the silence in nature is brilliant. in real life, silence is impossibly complicated. i aspire to it and despise it all at once. love/hate, my faithful companion.

when i was in second grade i got in trouble with the teacher for asking too many questions. i don't remember why. she probably had pms or hated her husband or thought her ass looked big in her polyester pants. she was your typical small-town teacher — settled down young, had kids, started dressing like her grandma shortly thereafter (sometimes i feel sorry for husbands...when i'm not busy thinking men are nuts). anyhow, the woman she was and the woman i'd become...let's just say never the twain shall meet. i bet she already knew that.

the second-grade classroom was on the other side of the stage where we had band practice. i can still feel that spit-soaked wooden reed in my mouth and see the band teacher showing us the proper way to hold our lips so the clarinet wouldn't sound like a duck when we blew into it. when you do it right, it sounds like a goose. one is not more pleasing than the other. i quit after a few months. beyond the stage was the gym, where we had assemblies and watched movies on special occasions. our principal, mr brown, would stand in front of us kids sitting cross-legged on the floor, pacing back and forth, and then he'd raise one hand — always the same hand — that meant we were supposed to be quiet. he was missing a finger. i know he raised that hand on purpose.

i saw old yeller for the first time in that gym. no tears. i was too new to the world. that's why we cry at movies, you know. the older we get, the more of our own sadness we collect. movies give us an excuse to cry. that way we're not crying over things we can't change, we're crying along with everyone else over a nonexistent dog dying. it makes sense. good excuses usually do.

colette was born before automobiles and television. she was in her 50s when "talkies" replaced silent films. it's no wonder she appreciated silence. she had no idea of what the world would become.

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