Now, of course, I see my wife every night. (The mistresses are later). We certainly don't need to wait till Saturday to talk. And, in fact, we don’t—we talk every night (except on Tuesdays, when I drink Tio Pepe in the study with my former midshipmen). But, I know what she means. Weekday nights, in the apartment, is not an occasion which lends itself to moments of deep reflection on life and love. It’s an occasion which lends itself to Project Runway and bed.
But, of course, we have to talk. (Get to! Get to!) And this brings me to the sort-of point of this sort-of observation, which is that one of the skills, for want of a better word, one learns, being married, is to have and enjoy what I will call (non-pejoratively) “low-content conversation.” We can’t always talk about ‘important’ topics, either because we’re tired or because we have no new thoughts on the subject. But we want to talk—not to sit in silence. So we discuss small things: how best to store our baking powder; my wife’s various tribulations with the fitness cult she’s joined at our gym; what to get my brother for Christmas (A Maserati? Or a parrot?) And though some information is communicated, the point is less what we’re saying, than the fact of saying anything at all. It’s like, by speaking, we reassure each other we exist and that we care about the other’s existence.
It recalls to me this passage, from Donald Barthelme's Snow White. (I know: I quote him a lot. Because he's SO DAMNED GOOD).
Dan sat down on a box, and pulled up more boxes for us, without forcing us to sit down on them, but just leaving them there, so that if we wanted to sit down on them, we could. “You know, Klipschorn was right I think when he spoke of the ‘blanketing’ effect of ordinary language, referring, as I recall, to the part that sort of, you know, ‘fills in’ between the other parts. That part, the ‘filling’ you might say, of which the expression ‘you might say’ is a good example, is to me the most interesting part, and of course it might also be called the ‘stuffing’ I suppose, and there is probably also, in addition, some other word that would do as well, to describe it, or maybe a number of them. But the quality this stuffing has, that the other parts of verbality do not have, is two-parted, perhaps: (1) an ‘endless’ quality and (2) a ‘sludge’ quality. Of course that is possibly two qualities but I prefer to think of them as different aspects of a single quality, if you can think that way. The ‘endless’ aspect of ‘stuffing’ is that it goes on and on, in many different forms, and in fact our exchanges are in large measure composed of it, in larger measure even perhaps, than they are composed of that which is not ‘stuffing.’ The ‘sludge’ quality is the heaviness that this ‘stuff’ has, similar to the heavier motor oils, a kind of downward pull but still fluid, if you follow me, and I can’t help thinking that this downwardness is valuable, although it’s hard to say just how, right at the moment….
Having transcribed this passage I now apprehend that it actually has only the slightest relevance to what I’m talking about above. Either there is another passage from Bartheleme—and I think there is (about ‘blague?’)—that DOES address the topic, or I am just completely wrong. In which case, I invite you to draw whatever reasonable conclusions may be drawn from my initial post.