quiet person day

Today (i.e. whatever day you’re reading this) is the day when we celebrate the quiet person. The quiet person among us is often overlooked and even scorned. This occurs for many reasons, all of which are rooted in the very nature of being quiet. Quietness can be interpreted as a supernatural state. This has caused problems for certain quiet people. Back in the day, the quiet person was often suspected of witchcraft and either burned or crushed to death under large boulders. Throughout history, quiet people have been perceived as oracles, goddesses, world-creators, world-destroyers, saints, sinners, aliens, demons, angels, lunatics, et cetera. An urge to fear the quiet person presents itself. The quiet person rarely speaks unless spoken to. What is going on in their heads. How menacing. Some people think this means the quiet person is a snob. In fact, often a quiet person will open up like a rare flower (e.g., an orchid) when spoken to. Or the quiet person will simply wilt into a pile of rotting organic matter. You’ll never know which unless you try.

Some people think the quiet person has no opinions, but get that person alone and look out! You will not believe the endless stream of words flowing forth from the quiet person. You may wish you had never engaged the quiet person in conversation. At times during this ‘conversation’, it may seem like the quiet person has been possessed by some manic force. When will this person ever shut up, you may find yourself wondering, I can’t get a word in edgewise. However, the quiet person is usually smart and insightful (if you have the right decoder ring), leading you instead to wish you’d not previously overlooked this person. In fact, you may wish you could bottle the quiet person’s wisdom and keep it with you at all times, so that you could take it out when needed and breathe deeply of its essence. Too bad for you that is not possible (yet). Besides, that’s just being greedy! It’s not your place to package the quiet person into a commodity to be bought and sold on the open marketplace, you capitalist bastard. The quiet person will resist the tyranny of your economic systems!

Unfortunately, the quiet person can be perceived as ‘creepy’ or ‘weird’ due to an inherent tendency to hang back and observe instead of participate in whatever inane activity the non-quiet people are currently engaged in. This is blatant discrimination. Quiet people are not all serial killers. It’s unfortunate that the description ‘seemed nice, kind of quiet, kept to her/himself‘ can apply to both sociopaths and non-murderous quiet people. Being quiet carries a heavy stigma, whether the loudmouths among us realize it or not. So step off, fools.

To help celebrate this important day, here are a few helpful suggestions on how to honor the quiet people in your life:

1. Leave them alone. (Can’t go wrong with this one, folks.)

2. Smile and nod at them in tacit approval of their right to remain silent.

3. Refrain from ‘volunteering’ them for public speaking.

4. Do not suggest that they ‘mingle’. They’re leaning against that wall for a reason.

5. Excuse them from any ‘icebreakers’  or other forms of forced socializing (see #4 above).

6. Learn to read minds so that they are not forced to articulate their thoughts.

7. Stop asking them to speak up all the time. Instead consider buying yourself hearing aids.

8. Engage in a ‘not-talking’ contest with them. (And don’t be a sore loser, chatterbox.)

9. Invite them to a mime performance.

10. Do not assume their quietness equates to a dislike for you.

ice wrench grip

Clutching the bedside table again. After so many nights with it lodged against my hip. And now while cross-checking your references. The calming effects of copyediting, the sly satisfaction of reducing months of hard labor to a few sentences in need of tightening. I reach in with my wrench and look for loose bolts, as in my ears the sun kills the moon. And now the wind blows. An exchange of smiles is a warm point of light in ice. Now occupied with the business of shuttering another week. So carry me, carry me, Ohio.

unfinished studies in probability

I am trying to determine how it is possible that I never see my immediate neighbors. We literally share walls. And I am out in the streets at least twice a day walking Farley. Yet I never encounter them. How is this possible. What are the odds of me seeing even one of them? That’s what I’d like to know, though I’m not at all a gambling man, just a curious one. Is it because I leave at random times, and they also leave at random times, making our odds of intersection quite low? Or is it because I leave at random times and they leave at the same times, also making our odds of encountering each other low. I know that I never leave at the same time, so perhaps I am the reason we never meet. My erratic behavior may be the cause of our never meeting. However, some people in the neighborhood I see quite often, even though they don’t even live on my street. Why them, I ask, why not the ones so close by. This I don’t understand.

Sometimes I look out a window and I see my immediate neighbors but they appear so far away, like they are in another dimension, another world even, or as if in a dream, and I consider that I may never know them for it is too late, too much time has passed and so we are destined to remain strangers. Somehow, in some hidden unreachable part of my insides, I think I know this is true, and for some reason it saddens me, though I don’t quite know why, but I think it may have to do with how I have created personalities and lives for all of them and the stories of their lives in my head are ongoing and can grow quite elaborate at times, and for reality to now impose on these stories would ruin them and probably depress me.

Meanwhile, the other day as I approached the revolving door at work from outside, someone also approached it from inside, and we pushed simultaneously and the door swung with ease, depositing each of us in places opposite of where we had been, and this was pleasing to me, for it rarely happens, and in general I am ambivalent to revolving doors, yet when serendipity such as this occurs I am reminded of their occasional magic, leaving me with a lingering sense of connection to my partner in door-pushing whom I didn’t know and didn’t speak to nor do I want to know or ever speak to.

the people

We made up names for the people we didn’t understand. This helped us decode their mysterious juxtaposition to our lives. The names we gave them were based on our keen observation of their behavior. We categorized this behavior, internalizing its significance, and assigned the names accordingly. Over time, a parallel world began to form, separate from the one we were living in. This world was inhabited by these people we didn’t know or understand. However, the strange thing about this world was that it existed in the same plane of time and space as our own. On occasion, we saw these people. But the question remained: could our lives ever intersect? And if so, what would happen to the lives we’d imagined for these people? Would the detailed personalities we’d dreamed up for them withstand deeper scrutiny? Or would they melt away in the acid of reality?

We had spent many hours carefully crafting the stories of these people and we were not prepared to alter those stories so readily. These people had names, held significance to us, in the world we had created for them. The idea that they, in fact, might be different from how we had imagined them was anathema to us. Our theories, constructed as they were from toothpicks sutured together in idle hours, began to quiver. We feared their collapse under the cold authority of hard evidence. We worried that we’d be proven wrong and exposed as frauds. Or worse yet, as unlicensed judges of human character.

In the end we left. We saw no other solution. The authorities had discovered the parallel world. Someone leaked it to them. We came home late one afternoon and found workers in the street, their industrial saws cleaving the invisible fabric. I’ll never forget that day. I stared in horror as our most intricate creation washed away under the silent cresting breakers of two worlds joining. The people were out there, too, watching as their lives closed in on our own. I could tell they didn’t even know what it all meant. That was the worst part. And now they will never know who they might have been.

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