Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Books as First Friends

When books are your friends, the written word takes on special importance.  Books always say what they mean, and they generally say it well.  Books are eloquent in ways a verbal communicator can not be.  Sentences are carefully measured; words are well chosen; awkward pauses are nonexistent.  Y'know?  (See what I mean?)
A bookworm tends to desire to relate in like manner.  Spoken word is mere communication; written word is expression.  Early friends like C.S. Lewis and Louisa May Alcott define conversation as much as the friends on the baseball diamond or at the sleepover do.  Bookworms, I suspect, are blogworms, as well, choosing written expression as their best expression of self.
My husband and I had a discussion the other day.  He struggles with the fact that I take his words very literally.  He will occasionally choose a word that doesn't fit well with the topic he is discussing.   Maybe he'll say taunt instead of taut, or invoke rather than encroach.   When I appear perplexed, he misconstrues my confusion as ridicule.  It has always been very difficult to convince him otherwise.  As a lifelong reader, I enjoy a larger vocabulary than he does.  As a man whose bread and butter is earned from verbal expression, this pleases as well as intimidates him.  I understand, then, his natural conclusion that I'm laughing at him.

During our conversation, insight finally sparked. I am a person of the written word.  Phrases are rarely misspoken in my native tongue.  I am not a better verbal communicator, as he suspected, but a worse one.  My look is one of genuine misinterpretation.  It takes time for me to translate into my book-learned language.  Others, whose first friends played kickball and dollhouse, talked and laughed and joked in good, honest verbal vernacular.
The explanation helped him understand.  It also helped me to pinpoint an area of growth I've struggled with for a long while.  Good communication is not always precise and standardized. In fact, sometimes the best conversation is ragged and random.

1 comment:

  1. This was much shorter when I mistakenly typed it in a small font. My apologies - I don't like to be quite so long winded!