Various studies purport that women use more words per day than men [30,000 vs 15,000]. That’s open to debate. Some add that women also use more signals and silences per day. Now that one strikes this husband as far less debatable. Throughout history, the female of the species has had far fewer vocal opportunities, thereby perfecting these more nuanced alternatives.
One effective way to stop a bellowing male in his huffy tracks is with an arch of the eyebrow or an icy silence. Weapons for which most civilized men have yet to find a viable defense.
However, the high art of signals-and-silences can become deadly dangerous when practiced by heads of state. One chilling example played out exactly 50 years ago.The Cuban Missile Crisis. With atomic weapons aimed and poised between the Soviet Union and the United States, Kennedy and Kruschev played a game of cards-down poker that shoved the world to the edge of annihilation. I know because our little family had prepared our own basement-bomb-shelter that harrowing October.
Lately we repeatedly hear reports like, “The US Embassy sent a signal to…”, “The White House signaled Congress…”, “The Taliban’s terrorist attack was their clearest signal yet that…”, “The European Union is now signaling its willingness to…”
Does anyone look the other person in the eye and just say what they mean, for god’s sake? I remember feeling this frustration in high school whenever I’d ask Peggy or Nancy for a date, and they never quite answered with any of those handy 30,000 words! A smile, a giggle, a blush, a shuffle of their penny-loafers, but not one decipherable word.
I wanted to spit spiders. Instead I usually reported back to the boys something like: “She was so surprised I left her speechless.” However, when great leaders of great powers are toting guns in Dodge City, signals-and-silences may look good for their closeups back home; but the room for error comes at a much higher risk than any of my adolescent heartbreaks.
Come on folks, at this level of play, coy is no longer cute. We’re supposed to be living in the greatest age of human communication in history. Soooo….?
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