Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Failed Silencers

This break is based on a true story.

What I didn't add, because it would have weighed down the break, was the fact that the guy interrupted a private conversation to tell me not to talk about something that he didn't want to know about, which seems to me to be a bit invasive.

I've been told to shut up in public a lot.

One day at a Chili's I said "Fuck" in a conversation at a table with friends.  A man several tables away stalked over to our table to rage at me about his children possibly hearing that kind of language.  I replied that I'd try to keep my Turrets in check for him.  He turned purple but he went away.

Another day I was having lunch with a friend when an elderly man came to our table to thank me "Very much for sharing the conversation with the whole room," but would I mind speaking more softly.  I wanted to keep things nice for my friend, so I capitulated.  My voice DOES carry.  I studied opera and did lots of live theater as a kid.  I sang Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance when I was seventeen.  As an asthmatic my ability to project was hard-won, but it's also an occupational hazard.  In retrospect I should have told him that the sarcasm was unnecessary.

Just last week I was at the UPS store, fighting with a copy machine.  This time I was very sotto voce, but the man behind me was also hearing a nonstop dialogue from his seven year old daughter, who had to proclaim the cuteness of every card on the rack.  She was trying to connect with him but he, having a male brain with half the language wiring of hers, was suffering from frayed nerves.  I said to the copy machine, nearly under my breath and for the third time, "Oh!  Nonononono!"

He wheeled on me and spat, "You know, talking to the machine is not going to help!"

I got all smooth on him.

"Dude," I purred, "In case you haven't noticed by this point in your day," I nodded in the direction of his daughter, "Women are going to talk whether it helps or not,"

He lowered his head in what resembled defeat but what might have been a cringe against his own urge to strangle me, and left me alone after that.

For me, being a public target of so much male frustration is hilarious.

They sure listen to me when I'm on the radio.

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