Psycho Killer, by David Byrne:
You start a conversation you can’t even finish.
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything.
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.
Say something once, why say it again?
This is one of my favorite songs. I sing it with a facial tick to portray a person fed up with mindless communication. I especially love when people ask you a question then answer it themselves. I wish we would learn to be quiet around each other. The longer I hear people talk the more I can pick out meaninglessness. At that point I can translate their subtext, which is the same for everyone who runs off at the mouth, including me. I think we’re really saying that we’re lonely and that we want people to know that we exist. We want people to like us.
We don’t have confidence in our ability to simply take positive actions to secure bonds with people, so we run off at the mouth instead. Why are we afraid of quiet? Why can’t we just experience time together? I like when you can nod, sigh, moan, smile, and raise your brow at a person, and they get it. My grandma and I do that sometimes when we go to the café at the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale. We stare out of the window at the palisades and Hudson River, drink coffee and eat David’s white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. It’s very cool, and we don’t exhaust ourselves with all of that running off at the mouth. More importantly, we don’t run the risk of choking to death from talking with our mouths full.
I get irritated when a stranger says God bless you after I sneeze on the bus or train. It’s just another one of those mindless things that we say. It has nothing to do with being good to your fellow human being, not really. And worst of all it means that I have to say thank you, and sometimes I don’t feel like opening my mouth, especially since I don’t get enough sleep as it is. Most of the time I’m too tired to even talk to myself – some folks don’t realize how much energy talking takes. When a stranger says God bless you, sometimes I just nod and groan unintelligibly — Scooby Doo speak. I respond, “ran ru,” but really, I don’t open my mouth or move my lips. It’s stressful when a stranger says God bless you. I’m nervous about having a succession of sneezes as they might be a person who says God bless you after each sneeze, so I hold my face tight around my nose to prevent sneezing again. I think you could have a heart attack doing that.
Are you really asking God to bless me or is this just a cheap way for you to feel like a mensch? A cheap display of humanitarianism. Blech! Maybe the next time some stranger says God bless you to me I should say: ‘Thank you ever so much for asking God to bless me especially during this time in my life where I am plagued by a myriad of mental, spiritual, and physical problems. There are microscopic pill bugs crawling on me and telephone calls that I get from Uranus, yet it seems that no one wants to help. The worst of it is that I’m being followed by people trying to brand me with a barcode. Maybe I should just have a glass of Tang and relax on the fire escape. Maybe I’m just stressed out. It’s so nice to meet you. What’s your name? Mine’s Sandee, or Sword-chinned bitch, as my friends call me — sometimes I am called Sandor. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you asking God to bless me. May I have your phone number so that I can talk to someone kind, while I’m at the looney bin?” The next time someone sneezes, I’ll bet that person thinks twice about saying ‘God bless you’, about saying something to a stranger without thinking about exactly what they’re saying.
But to be fair, it takes time to cultivate this ability to be silent around people. It’s a skill where you use body language and good vibes to communicate. You have to appreciate stillness. Telepathy – I’ve had it with a couple of ex boyfriends and it’s very economical. When you don’t talk as much you have more energy for you-know-what. Maybe in the society of the future we can do this, like in that underground society in the movie “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.”