Do it, You Won’t: The silent treatment

If there’s one thing I like doing more than anything else, it’s making my life harder on purpose. That’s why, for the next several weeks, I’ll be embarking on a series of self-set challenges, ranging from things that could actually benefit me to things that are downright stupid.  

The Challenge 

If there’s one time you really don’t wanna be sick, it’s during tech week.  

You’re sniffling, coughing, and getting sudden hot flashes when you’re trying to mop the stage with an old fashioned string mop that you doubt is really cleaning anything. The smell of Green Clean is just irritating your nose even more.  

But to me, the worst part about being sick, especially in the midst of anything important going on, is not being able to speak.  

Last Friday, at the height of my voice being MIA, was a major work day for pre-production tasks for the upcoming play. I croaked the best few words I could manage. One of my co-workers joked that “I should keep my voice that way.”  

I agreed.  

Now, it’s a little over a week later and I’m feeling fine and dandy again. But Dave needs another blog.  

My next challenge is to speak as little as possible for 24 hours.  

 The Rules 

I say “as little as possible” because there are instances I really do need to speak, like helping a student during my library shift, asking someone to let me in because I forgot my ID, or going to Valley Optometry to plead with the front desk guy to fix my glasses after I unknowingly dropped them in the Jeffords parking lot and they got run over by a car (yup). 

So, I’ll allow myself 150 words. A typical paragraph length, and no more.  

The Experience 

The challenge began on Monday at 2 p.m. My afternoon class was cancelled, so I decided to go into Rutland and say hi to my mom (I got her sick) and then get my to-hell-and-back glasses fixed.  

It was a painfully silent drive into Rutland. I never realized how much I talk and sing to myself, even if it’s not very loud. Or maybe it was just the awareness that I couldn’t talk to myself that made me uneasy.  

I arrived at my house and instantly when I walked in the door, my mom knew something was up. I wouldn’t say hi to her and just started laughing.  

Kind of psychotic.  

So I showed her my little notebook, on which I’d written, “Feature Writing challenge. No talk. Monday, March 27 2 p.m. to Tuesday, March 28 2 p.m.”  

“I don’t know what to say to you,” she said. “You’re a little rat!”  

I was leaving to go to the eye place when I ran into a guy on my porch with a bill for my dad. “I can take that, thank you!” I said.  

144 words left.  

Fast forward to the eye place. I was so nervous all my words would be eaten up in this one interaction. So I got straight to the point.  

“Hi, my name’s Pearl Bellomo and my glasses kind of got run over by a car. The lenses and frames are still intact, but the sides are pretty bent up. I was hoping someone would be able to fix them.” 

Without questions or conversation, the front desk guy took the glasses and went to work his magic. Like 15 minutes later, he came back with them looking brand new again.  

After a very sincere thank you, I was out of there. 

90 words.   

Later I went to Grand Union and CVS with my mom. To say it was awkward would be an understatement.  

For context, I’m the type to tell my mom everything. We’re always talking and laughing, even about stupid things in the grocery store. She talks to herself a lot too (it’s something we have in common) and I usually bandwagon off idiotic things she says. Like if she hears “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie, she’ll snap back, “Big girl’s actually do cry!” or I’ll give her crap about staring into space in the produce section.  

“Can I help you?” I’d say.  

But our little grocery trip was dead silent on my end, besides me laughing when I couldn’t respond to her. But I did help her pick out a nail polish at CVS using hand signals. That was fun.  

I caved a couple of times. A few short sentences and one- or two-word answers. It’s hard to say absolutely nothing to your own mother.  

I went back to campus that evening with like 30 words left. And that’s being generous.  

I left my ID in my room, so I had to ask a guy if he had his.  

18 words.  

My last obstacle of the day was my library closing shift. If I could just get through those two hours, I could just sleep in and avoid people until the next afternoon.  

A few “hi, hellos” with my evening supervisor. I usually talk to her quite a bit. I definitely would’ve told her that my glasses were run over. But I was dead silent the whole shift, zoning in on the several overdue assignments I didn’t do during tech week.  

A student asked if we had creative cloud on the computers. I said no and listed the places that do. I said goodbye to my supervisor and to have a good night.  

I was definitely out of words.  

It’s currently 1:57 p.m. the next day and I haven’t left my dorm. I think I accidentally gave myself social anxiety. 

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