Here are a couple of pages from one of the stories in the book.
Hopefully this will give you an example of my writing and send you into a wild book-buying frenzy.
The Dinner Meeting
One warm summer evening in 1995, I was working at the computer in a bedroom on the second floor of my house, when my wife called my name. At that time we were both thirty-eight years old and had been together for twenty years.
Two people who have lived together for more than half their lives have certain modes of communication that are incomprehensible to the rest of the world. For example, it is common knowledge that many qualified members of this segment of society (the severely married) are capable of having entire twenty-minute arguments with their partners telepathically. Mrs. Severely Married will just look at this person with whom she has spent her entire adult life and in a few seconds be able to communicate, with subtle body language and almost imperceptible facial expressions, her side of the argument. And Mr. Married will respond accordingly. It is an extremely effective energy conservation program. And a survival skill.
My wife is particularly masterful at this style of communication. When she crosses her arms and leans her body slightly to one side, I know that is shorthand for her ten-minute diatribe about what an asshole I am for not doing more to help her around the house. When she tilts her head to the right and raises her left eyebrow, that, I know, is shorthand for her brilliant ten-minute indignant response to my feeble attempt to justify my lack of productivity on the weekend with some lame argument about how hard I work during the week. And when she places her hands on her hips and I see heat begin to rise from her head and shoulders, that is her way of telling me in no uncertain terms that I cannot possibly win this argument, and that it is in my best interest to shut the ball game off and help her.
These are twenty-minute, high-volume arguments, done silently in thirty seconds.
In addition to this complex visual language, there is also an entire audio vocabulary between long-time companions through which they can communicate, not so much with words, but by inflection.
My first exposure to this audio phenomenon occurred when my son was an infant. When he wasn’t sleeping or staring into the fifth dimension, he was crying. That’s what he did, he cried. To me it all sounded the same. One annoying baby sound—waaaaaaaah. However, his mother heard an elaborate, articulate vocabulary within the subtle (and to me imperceptible) differences in every sound that came out of his little mouth. She was equipped with a specialized hearing system that instantly decoded the secret world of infant cry/speak.
Often he would cry in the middle of the night. Sometimes she would ignore him and he would go back to sleep. That waaaaah, she knew, said, “Where the hell am I? Oh, there’s my mobile. I know this place. Everything is cool, back to dreamland.” Other times she would get up casually and nurse him. She had translated that cry: “I’m starving here. Where’s the nice lady with the big tits?”
But occasionally my wife and I would be asleep and our son would begin to cry. Not even a full waaaaaah but just the first waa. . . and she would catapult out of bed and be at that baby’s side in two one-hundredths of a second. She knew by the inflection of this sound that he was hurt. He wasn’t hungry. He wasn’t teething. He wasn’t scared. He was in pain and all he had to do was make the “I’m in pain” sound for one millisecond and his mother would instantly appear to untangle his leg from the bars of his crib.
At my computer, my wife’s voice penetrated my air-space. One word—two syllables—my name—Donnie. I have heard my wife speak my name nearly every day of my adult life. At last count, she could say it with over four hundred inflections, each clearly communicating a unique reason, motivation, and sense of urgency. From the lips of my wife, my name is an entire language, one that we both speak fluently.
When the first consonant of the first syllable of my name reached my ears it did not make the lengthy trip to my brain for analysis and interpretation. It was snagged and identified by a visceral, adrenaline-driven, high-speed processor located in the pit of my stomach.
This astounding piece of equipment was developed, and used on a daily basis, by prehistoric man in an era when taking the time to think, “Hmm, that sounds like a lion,” was more than enough to significantly increase the likelihood of a Cro-Magnon’s abrupt and unceremonious return into the food chain.
Move and live. Or think and die.
I move. I do not get up from the chair and run downstairs. I just appear there. My son and his friend are standing in the living room with my wife. They are drenched in trauma. Before a word is spoken I already know that our lives have been permanently altered.
© 2006 Don White, all rights reserved.