Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Language of Love...?

My wife speaks "pronoun." For the uninitiated and unmarried, speaking pronoun is the peculiar ability, attained by wives immediately upon the last "I do," to carry on entire conversations, alone or in the company of other wives, without specifying the identity of any person of thing they are talking about. Everything comes in pronouns. By some clairvoyant means, the other wives present seem to inherently understand the subject of the conversation without having to ask. They are equally adept at picking up and continuing the conversation in the same language. They all speak "pronoun."
Naturally, husbands are genetically indisposed to this ability. The average husband sits by wondrously clueless as his beloved carries on with numerous "he's," "she,s" and "its" to the utter bewilderment of the English language.
My wife's favorite ploy is to step into the middle of a thought she has been keeping to herself until she erupts with a statement, like "Did you see or talk to them today?"
This leaves me to wonder whom among the nine hundred, sixty-four people I've met today that I've chosen to both see and talk to.
"Uh, sure," I answer, not wanting my wife to think I've been neglectful of meeting and speaking to at least someone; and hoping for some hint or clue to know who she is talking about.
No luck. "Well, it's about time, " she answers, "You haven't talked to them in the last two days, and I saw her out in the yard yesterday."
Not only am I clueless, I am also guilty. And I don't even know who the victim is.
But this is only the beginning. My wife has mastered the art of speaking pronoun while switching subjects from one conversation to another, and almost in mid sentence. As a result, "he" and "she" may refer alternately to one of two conversations either coming or going. About the time I have "their" identity figured out, my wife will triumphantly announce, "Oh, I'm not talking about them. I've changed subjects."
Thanks for the warning.
The oddest thing about all this is that after more than thirty-four years of marriage, I find myself beginning to make sense of what my wife is saying. Scary. I think it has something to do with being familiar with our habits, interests and most common subjects for discussion.
This can produce some truly odd conversations for those who care to eavesdrop. For example, suppose the phone rings and I answer. The conversation goes something like this:
"It's her again."
"Have you seen her in the past two days? Oh, and is he up yet?"
"Yep. Talked to her this morning. He was on the loose again. And yes, he's up but he's still in the basement."
The forgoing mythical conversation is about three people in two entirely different situations. I promise, if I showed my wife the dialog, she would know who I am talking about.
What does all this mean? That two people who spend their lives together can develop a kind of unwritten, unspecified communication. They are so close, they do not need a lot of detail - like names and places - to make sense with one another. They can speak in "pronoun" and still understand one another. It comes with long marriages. It comes with intimacy. It's a sure sign they know how to communicate.

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