The Perils of Verbal Restraint

blue soapbox  “Think before you speak”—could there be a clearer path to a wholesome life?

But clinical tests now show that verbal restraint can lead to significant health problems.  Indeed, unspoken zingers and lost chances to tell someone where to go were recently identified as primary causes of word deposits in the body.  Researchers believe these fatty deposits are directly correlated with Impacted Vowel Syndrome, a condition that in severe cases may also involve consonants.

I myself suffered from IVS, and had numerous doctors dismiss my symptoms as psychosomatic, before an astute diagnostician properly identified my condition.  Thankfully, I was able to reintroduce the pointed barb into my verbal repertoire before it was too late.

If only I’d been aware of my condition years ago!  Your book is about equality, yet it’s written in jargon for the elite, I would have said to a smug sociology professor.  And, to an attractive acquaintance:  Are you consciously trying to ruin your lovely features with that horrible hairstyle?

One time I was parked on College Avenue in Berkeley, just south of Ashby.  Evan and Reuben had run into Gordo’s Taqueria on our way to some lesson or other, and I was waiting in the car where I could keep an eye on them.

An officer of the law appeared.  “Ma’am, you’re in a bus zone,” he pointed out helpfully.

Yes, and do you notice that buses never, EVER pull over into their designated spots in this infuriating town?  That they leave their butts out in traffic and tie cars up for blocks behind?   Tell you what.  Just as soon as you cite bus drivers for NOT using this spot, you can cite me for using it!

Unaware of the therapeutic powers of such a response, I opted for “So sorry, officer.  But I haven’t left my car.”

“Doesn’t matter, Ma’am.  You’re parked illegally.”  Out came the citation pad.

“But—I have to keep an eye on my kids,” I whined, instead of If you were actually out there fighting crime, I wouldn’t have to obsess about keeping my children within eyesight. In retrospect, I swear I could feel the word deposits forming on my liver.

“Ma’am, you should’ve parked legally and accompanied them.”

“But I’m in my car!  And I’d move if a bus came,” I added halfheartedly.

He peered at me skeptically, then kept scribbling.

You’re right, I probably wouldn’t—because those traffic barricades force you to travel two miles out of your way to go around the block!  Head up Ashby, and next thing you know, you’re in Orinda!  I’m saving gas here!  I’m saving the planet!  Isn’t that considered correct behavior in Berkeley?

I held my tongue, and was sick for weeks afterward.  Since the ticket was nearly $400, I naturally attributed my symptoms to hemorrhage.

These days I’m better.  I even recently came clean with a cousin who always thought I shared her appreciation of the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” (it’s abominable).

With my IVS in remission, life is much more manageable.  For me, at least.  I can’t speak for those around me.

Published in the Piedmont Post, February 9, 2011

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