Thursday, January 26, 2012

No Words

I'm never at a loss for words... almost, never.

It might be due the fact that unlike most people, my words don't begin life in my brain as prenatal thoughts that slowly gestate to maturity, then pass through the birth-canal of my throat and pop out my mouth fully-formed. Nope, my words just show up in my mouth all growed-up. My brain seems always to be the last to know, finding out what I said just like everyone else, by hearing the words and wondering, "what the heck?"

If my brain's distracted working on a problem or a bit inebriated by a glass of wine or just plain old hyped-up and five miles ahead of the conversation, my words can come as complete surprise.

Yeah, I'm never at a loss for words, even when I think I am.

Ah... but what about the "right" words? The appropriate words? The best words?

Well, I guess that's a matter of what you mean by right, appropriate or best. There's always better, so best is just a matter of what you've got in the moment. In the case of having or not having words, then the good words spoken are still better than the best words unspoken. So best is a moving target. Sometimes you need to start with less than best just to get the ball rolling.

Right is a funny one; you've got your righteous right and your factually-accurate right and your less well understood because-it-works right. I'm not a big believer in the first one and actively make it not a goal that my words be righteous. I try to be factually accurate, but when in doubt opt for clarity in the moment over factually-accurate later (the former providing immediate opportunity for correction if my assumptions are wrong).

In the end, the most important question to be asked about the rightness of words (righteous or not, accurate or not) is: did they work? You see, that's the beauty of words. They're never uttered without purpose. The measure of their rightness is directly proportional to the degree to which they accomplish that purpose.

Appropriate is something I've never been able to figure out. All I know is that my idea of appropriate is often misaligned with the ideas of people around me. Over the years I've undertaken initiatives to be more appropriate and they've been as effective as Mark Kaufman's many diet plans. Seems that whenever I try to be appropriate, I just get a headache and everyone around me gets confused. Let's just say that appropriate is as appropriate does; I trust that my words are appropriate in the moment; otherwise my mouth wouldn't have said them, right? They must have seemed appropriate to my mouth at the time.

Over the past twenty-four hours or so, my mind has been conducting a moratorium on words. I must say it nearly worked, that is, until I got up this morning and started typing. Did I mention that words sometimes form in my fingers? It's a little backchannel path that my mouth uses when my brain takes over.

Yup, I got up this morning and just started typing. You see, I have this friend who was so much bigger than life that life could no longer hold him and he moved on. And I... Hey, that reminds me.

A pause to google.

Too Big for this Town
Jonathan and I often quipped using movie references. We shared a favorite scene from the movie, Big Fish. In this scene our hero, Edward Bloom, confronts a giant. The scene begins with Edward describing his youth...

EDWARD NARRATES
Most times a person grows up gradually while I found myself in a hurry.

My muscles and my bones couldn't keep up with my body's ambition. So I spent the better part of three years confined to my bed with the encyclopedia being my only means of exploration.

I had made it all the way to the G's hoping to find an answer to my "gigantificationism" when I uncovered an article about the common goldfish.

"Kept in a small bowl, the goldfish will remain small. With more space the fish will grow double, triple, or quadruple its size."

It occurred to me then that perhaps the reason for my growth was that I was intended for larger things.

After all, a giant man can't have an ordinary-sized life.

As soon as my bones had settled in their adult configuration I set upon my plan to make a bigger place for myself in Ashton. I was the biggest thing Ashton had ever seen. Until one day, a stranger arrived.

THE SCENE OPENS WITH A LITTLE GIRL SCREAMING
Doggy! My doggy! My doggy's trapped!

A CROWD FORMS AROUND THE MAYOR
Calm down. Calm down, everybody. Calm down. That's enough.

Mr. Mayor, he ate an entire corn field.

He ate my dog.

If you ain't gonna stop him, mayor, we will.

MAYOR
I won't have mob violence in this town.

EDWARD
Now, has someone tried talking to him?

MAN 1
You can't reason with him.

MAN 2
He's a monster.

EDWARD
I'll do it. I'll talk to him. See if I can get him to go.

MAN 1
That creature could crush you without trying.

EDWARD
Oh, trust me, he'll have to try.

EDWARD WALKS TO THE SPOT WHERE THE GIANT WAS SEEN

EDWARD
Hello? My name is Edward Bloom, and I wanna talk to you!

GIANT
Go away!

EDWARD
Now, I'm not going anywhere until you show yourself!

GIANT
I said, go away!

EDWARD
Armed with the foreknowledge of my own death I knew the giant couldn't kill me. All the same, I preferred to keep my bones unbroken.

GIANT
Why are you here?

EDWARD
So you can eat me. The town decided to send a human sacrifice and I volunteered. My arms are a little stringy, but there's some good eating in my legs. I mean, I'd be tempted to eat them myself. So I guess, well... If you'd just get it over with quick, because I'm not much for pain, really.

GIANT
Go away

EDWARD
Oh, come on! I can't go back! I'm a human sacrifice. If I go back, they'll think I'm a coward. I'd rather be dinner than a coward. Here. You can start with my hand. It'll be an appetizer.

GIANT
I don't want to eat you. I don't want to eat anybody. I just get so hungry. I'm just too big.

EDWARD
Did you ever think that maybe you're not too big, but maybe this town is just too small?
I've heard in real cities there are buildings so tall you can't even see the tops of them.

GIANT
Really?

EDWARD
Oh, I wouldn't lie to you. And all-you-can-eat buffets. Now, you can eat a lot, can't you?

GIANT
I can.

EDWARD
So why are you wasting your time in a small town? You're a big man. You should be in a big city.

GIANT
You're just trying to get me to leave, aren't you?

EDWARD
What's your name, giant?

GIANT
Karl.

EDWARD
Well, mine's Edward. And truthfully... Well, I do want you to leave, Karl. But I want to leave with you.

GIANT
You think this town is too small for you?

EDWARD
Well, it's too small for a man of my ambition. So, what do you say? Join me?

GIANT
Okay.

EDWARD
Okay.



Happy Thursday,
Teflon

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