Learn another language – slam a door

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Courtesy of Patriiciiaa suga

Courtesy of Patriiciiaa suga

 

I taught myself to slam doors as a second language. I picked up a bit of it when I was a teenager, but I attained fluency after I got married.

 

By the time I said, “I do,” I had lived through almost thirty winters and considered myself a bona fide grown-up who dealt with problems in a calm and rational manner. Thankfully my husband thought I was calm and rational, too.

 

I also believed that my college education and years of reading books with big words allowed me to articulate my thoughts in a cogent and persuasive manner.

 

But after we each pulled tight our end of the knot at the wedding and began to live together, words failed me.

 

Since I was much too nice of a person to harbor ill will or feel irritated or hurt, whatever was bothering me was too petty to even mention, so I didn’t. Instead, I began to speak in slams.

 

Courtesy National Park Service

Courtesy National Park Service

One light slight slam of the cupboard or drawer meant I was chafed about something. To indicate that the problem needed more immediate attention, I slammed harder. Each slam and its intensity indicated my level of unhappiness or distress. Emergencies required a wall-shuddering large door slam.

 

Unlike English, door-slamming lacks subtlety. It consists mainly of nouns and adjectives: soft slam, lively bang, vigorous boom, and so on. The paucity of nouns is counterbalanced by comparative and superlative adjectives: the softest slam, a livelier bang, and the most vigorous boom of all.

 

In spite of these limitations, my husband learned to interpret his wife’s new language skills and use his words to coax me to use mine.

 

Me: Bang!

He: Is anything wrong?

Me: Headshaking and heavy snorting.

He: Do you want to talk about anything?

Me: Slam! Slam!

 

Eventually I would blurt out, “If you loved me, you would know what’s wrong!”

 

At the time, it was clear to me that if he would show common courtesy and read my mind, I wouldn’t have to speak in an unknown tongue. I was dumbstruck by what I interpreted as either obstinacy or lack of trying on his part. Clearly I was trying – very trying.

 

It took over two decades to realize that my thoughts were as opaque to him as his were to me, so I began to use my words and admit the things that bothered me. Big things. Small things. Trifling things that I should have been able to laugh off, but couldn’t. I married the man to be known, but my biggest fear was that he would fully know me, including my pettiness, my fears, and my insecurities.

 

Every door I slammed in the house mirrored a door I shut within myself to silence the words that would reveal that I am flawed and in desperate need of love and acceptance. And though my husband developed keen interpreting skills, he never attempted to speak the language.

 

Courtesy National Park Service

Courtesy National Park Service

I’ve lost my fluency in door-slamming and I think both of us are pleased about that. During the years I spoke in slams, my forceful manner of talking loosened screws, which meant both the doors and I were always in danger of coming unhinged. Having fewer loose screws is always a good thing.

25 thoughts on “Learn another language – slam a door

  1. My very best door slam took place when I was a teenager,
    quarreling with my mother, of course. I was taking something out of the refrigerator, and before I could shut its door, my mother said something. God knows what she said, but something that was, clearly, unbearably provocative.
    It was, in fact, the Last Straw. And so I slammed the
    refrigerator door. And as she stalked towards me, we
    both heard a noise that stopped us both in our tracks.
    It was a click, click, click sound coming from the refrigerator.
    She slowly opened the door, and each one of the shelves on
    the door filled with jellies and butter and pickle relish, oh you know, tipped out onto the floor, the stuff rolling all over. It was breath-taking. My father came into the kitchen and when he had finished blaspheming, he said, I’ll wire it up, good as new. Which we thought he could do. Which we thought he had done. But, alas, the ways of the refrigerator are not our ways. The shelves held, the shelves held, and then, all of a sudden, we would hear an unprovoked click, click, click coming from the inside of the refrigerator. And we knew then, a refrigerator never forgets.

  2. Love this. I wonder how those new kitchen cabinet styles with the “soft closing doors ” might require new language skills For those folks who are still speaking door slam.

  3. “Clearly I was trying – very trying.”

    You may have just unknowingly summed up my entire relationship history with just about everyone I’ve ever loved. I’ve always known you were a brilliant writer, but telling an entire life story in only six words is really taking it to the nth degree, don’t you think? 🙂

    You consistently make me wish I was a better writer, even while simultaneously causing me to be genuinely happy that I’ve been lucky enough to bump across your blog in this great and vast world of the internet. It’s a little like enjoying a delicious meal, complete with tasty dessert, all while listening to the perfect music, and sharing company with someone you love. And then, when it can’t possibly get any better, the stars come out, and shine all over you. Drenched in sparkling star-shine. That’s you.

  4. A beautiful post, my dear year stricken… more powerful than most. And you know, I love almost all of your posts. I went the opposite way, after finding my true love. I told her everything. I spilled out pettiness and foolishness, as well as scientifically exact descriptions of my reactions to certain things that bothered and disturbed me. I could have saved myself the trouble, and used four letter words. She often sympathized… and sometimes even identified with my pain… but there was no change in the difference… that huge gap… that separated the way we related to things. Time proved that we were lucky. There was more love to bring us together, than irritation. We learned to live together, as did you. What luck. I congratulate you on your good luck.

    • Marriage is always a gamble. I had no idea my husband would be so patient and understanding. And, of course, he had no idea I could be so impatient and obstinate. 🙂

      Like you and your true love, we managed to work things out. It takes a lifetime to learn the language of love – there are so many tricky ways of saying things and not saying things. We’ve reached a level of fluency, but we’ll have to study it for the rest of our lives.

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