It is possible to fit 10 diners around a table meant for four.
We did it last weekend with the Norwegian Artist, his Girl Friday through Thursday (that’s me), the four progeny, and the grand progeny.
Oh, and the female progeny’s’ individual cell phones.
I must say, although these latter three don’t eat much they make up for it in dominating the conversation.
One of the phones buzzes; another one shrieks; the third one retches. When they all go off at once it sounds as if the dog is getting sick.
Generally, however, the devices sound off one at a time, with one to five minute intervals between messages that range between “Wusup” and “I am so freakin bored.” Regardless of the inanity of the missive, the owner of the phone drops whatever she is doing (eating) and spends several minutes texting back, no doubt something profound like “Yeah im eating dinner w my famly.”
Apparently this sparks a lively discussion since, if the Norwegian Artist and I don’t put our death glares to work in tandem with the nostril sighs of doom, a “conversation” ensues that involves a succession of buzzing, shrieking, and retching that makes me wish that the dog would actually get sick and draw everyone’s attention elsewhere.
Eventually, however, we get the point across, namely by announcing that the next person who takes time out to text will forgo dessert. It is amazing how the threat of losing dessert works long past childhood, and as a mother whose dominating philosophy has always been, “Whatever works,” I have no problem serving myself an extra slice of cheesecake.
Interestingly, this digital gene is totally missing in the Son and Heir, his portion of this particular DNA strand having been apportioned out to his sisters, in favor of a genetic code that focuses on medieval warfare, tree climbing, and the ever-changing geographical borders of places like Uzbekistan.
I guess one could say that he has no textosterone.
Now lest I sound like a digital drama diva, I clarify that I do own a cell phone for occasional use — generally when I’m traveling — and that, given five minutes or so, I can manage to send a little text, along the lines of,
“I’m waiting outside your front door. Where are you?”
(Notice the punctuation, correct spelling, and capitalization? That’s what takes me so long, not to mention lack of practice.)
Other than that, if I am in the mood to indulge in inane conversation, I chat with the dog (“Do you need to go outside? Whoops. Guess so.”) or one of our superfluous cats (“Bad kitty! Out of the plant pot!”).
I had an English professor once who claimed that, without inane conversation, most relationships would fall apart.
“We can’t always be looking into one another’s eyes, murmuring ‘I love you,’ he said. “Once we run out of the monolithic statements, we are reduced to silence.”
For this reason, he went on, we need observations like “It’s really raining outside!” or “I smell the dog. It must be that new food,” simply to fill up space, and that conversation, like life, is largely composed of the little things.
This statement, however, was made back when portable phones looked like bricks with antennae sprouting from the top, and the professor’s only acquaintanceship with the word “texting” was as a typo (remember that word?) for the synonym of “examinations.”
I don’t think he could have imagined just how superficial shallow conversation could be.
We are recklessly close to the point where the monolithic statements — “I love you,” “I’m pregnant,” “The car’s not totaled, not really,” and “The dog died,” (that poor animal — retching, illness, gas, bad food) — will no longer be spoken, difficult as that may be, but texted — and in doing so, will be reduced to inane statements, no more important than “Im freakin bored.”
Oh please, let’s not do that.
Let’s grab onto the sweet things in life, and I’m not talking about dessert here. I mean the touch and feel of real skin, the fleeting emotions across a face, the low pitched murmur of a missive meant for our ears alone.
Let us not belittle the little things.