This is the matter. The reason I do not call an old friend, perhaps, or care to watch a popular movie, or read a particular book. Each of these things requires a dialogue, and I have nothing to say. You may judge me for being dull as a consequence. Or rude. Likely so. I am dull about many things. Rudeness comes too easily to me at times. But I think the fact of the matter, the lack of something to say and the unwillingness to say it, is of importance and I would in fact like to say something about that.
Most jabber I hear is nothing more than filler. Stuffing. What is often heard from close-by while trapped on public transportation. I could stand a little decoration and accouterment to any account if it were only fresh, or better yet, brilliant, if only for entertainment, but to have to listen to the cellulose that accounts for most of what passes for conversation, leaves me speechless. To watch some film that has not even bothered to develop its own premise beyond what might be done with the latest computer generated imagery (a magic that quickly bores me as do fairytales now), or read another account of murder, mayhem, or human folly that has not gone deeper than the device used to murder a plot committed to and by characters who are ambiguous and only thus meant to be interesting, is beyond me.
Dialog is precious when it informs. But it cheats us when it only steals from the past. Ambiguity eludes me when the wolf is at the door. I have nothing to say to people who cannot deal with the ugly stench of reality much less the bouquet of the rose in front of their noses but are quiet upset by something someone said—someone they do not know and who could not care less about them, or someone I have never met and have no interest in. Let them tell me something new that I did not know. That’s fine. Tell me a tale that enlarges mine. Fabulous! But no more of when and before.
Conversation is dialogue. Between two or more. Conversation with one’s self is meditation. If what I find between my mind and yours is less than I might have discovered alone, I am at a loss. And this is doing no favor to you, either.
The old friend is upset with me for not staying in touch. But what have the most recent occasions between us been like. After that better moment in youth when we worked side by side or depended on one another for support, when we had much to say to comprehend the moment and confirm ourselves as worthy of friendship, the needs of that time passed and there was too little in common left of the present between us. We had children, and the demands and values of parents engaged in that holy mundane drama, and they were single, or divorced, and had no interest in the needs of children, much less the passions of parents in distress over their own essential ignorance in the face of life’s more important demands. On meeting again, we were left only with recollections of a past that paled then by comparison to fevers in the night, orthodontics, little league, school boards and rent.
In the face of life’s onslaught, we take our pleasures in doses now. A tended garden bloomed at last. (How do you keep the beetles off the peonies? No, they don’t do well in apartment window boxes.) I have discovered a bourbon that is really fine. (But you only drink white wine.) A few words written that seem to mean the same thing we thought. (Oh, you haven’t had a chance to read the last book yet.) An hour of sex. (That is nothing to talk about.) A sunrise. (Words will not describe). A new day, unspent. (Yes, mornings are the best!) No matter how much we liked that friend of old, there is little want of them now. Selfishness demands of us. Why would they want us? We have nothing to say. Merry Christmas! Yes.
Yes, we care about them. They are not forgotten. Is that it?
True, the past is all we have to keep as the present flees our grasp.
How do we bring that thought into the conversation?
I don’t want to talk about a movie. We don’t listen to the same music. We have never been to that part of the world that they have just returned from—and can’t afford to plan such a journey—imagine! We are on our own courses now, and only that brief past is tangent. Yes, it was swell. But I have said that before. I am just too dull to cut that loaf again. I am guilty. Now I am a bore.