'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
LOSS OF VOICE MEANS IT’S MIME TIME
We so often take things for granted. Sometimes we don’t realize how fortunate we are until we lose a very special possession. Recently I lost something very special to me: my voice.
Along with approximately 300 million other Americans, I came down with a cold last month. On the very day my throat was getting rather scratchy, I had to conduct a seminar where I was required to speak for four hours straight. Thankfully, I made it through the presentation, although during the last hour some people wondered why I was doing a Rod Stewart impersonation. (I hoarsely explained, “No, this is a Blythe Danner impersonation.”)
The minute the seminar was over, my larynx said to me, “That’s it, pal. I’m done. See you next week.” By the way, I discovered larynx is not the name of a new sport utility vehicle by Mitsubishi. It is actually the technical medical term for the human voice box, the thingee in our throat (thingee being its other technical medical term) that produces speech.
From that moment on, my larynx ceased to make a sound. I was transformed into the Marcel Marceau of Connecticut. And I have to tell you, I did not enjoy wearing that striped shirt and white face paint one bit. Also, no matter how hard I tried, I could not master the “trapped in a glass booth” routine.
It’s amazing how often during a typical day we are required to speak. For example, the phone rings and we are required to say, “Hey, I’m on the ‘Do Not Call’ list! Don’t ever bother me— Oh, hi Mom. Sorry, I didn’t know it was you.”
Or the drive-thru loudspeaker says, “Merrah taycoo oreplee?” (Translation: “May I take your order, please?”), and we are required to say, “A medium black coffee and a glazed cruller—no, make that two glazed crullers.”
Or the boss comes into our office and says, “Where’s the report you were suppose to finish yesterday?” and we are required to say, “Oh, I thought you said you were going to do it.”
Or the missus says, “When are you going to clean out the gutters?” and we are required to say, “Oh, I thought you said you were going to do it.”
When you are unable to speak, it is impossible to reply to these simple inquiries. You are forced to shrug your shoulders, wave your hands, point to your throat, and finally start doing the “trapped in a glass booth” routine. With people who are on the other end of the telephone or working the drive-thru window, these gestures are not particularly effective because they cannot see you. With your boss and your spouse these gestures are not particularly effective either, because they think you are insane.
It’s not that my voice, when healthy, is anything to write home about. Some people have truly magnificent and melodious voices, people such as Luciano Pavarotti, James Earl Jones, and Pee Wee Herman. My voice is really not meant for public display. (Maybe someday I’ll tell you about my naïve foray some years ago into the world of talk radio. Before I admit anything about that, however, I first have to check to see if the statute of limitations has expired. I don’t want to be charged with crimes against humanity by the FCC for the pathetic tones and ideas I babbled over the airwaves.)
Well, after a few days I finally got my voice back. I’m so glad I can communicate once again. And I’m really glad I don’t have to do that “glass booth” routine anymore.
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